Cornish pasty ‘invented in London’

  (Photo: Image credit: The Cornish Pasty Association  )

A leading historian has claimed that the Cornish pasty was actually not founded in Cornwall.

Peter Brears has said that traditional Cornish pasties were in fact developed by urban middle classes in London – not the West Country.

He wrote in an article in food studies journal Petits Propos Culinaires, that pasties in Cornwall in the 19th century were also mostly vegetarian, and the term ‘Cornish Pasty’ was coined by London cookery teachers.

According to the Western Morning News, he wrote: “Always containing red meat, its use was spread throughout the entire country by London-trained cookery teachers who invented the term ‘Cornish pasty’.

“They did not originate in Cornwall and although they drew their inspiration from those enjoyed by tourists to the county, were quite different from the true pasties of Cornwall in a number of ways.

“Firstly, they selected only meat, potatoes, onions etc as their filling, rejecting all other traditional ingredients and secondly, but most importantly, they were tiny, only a couple of inches across. These were not intended to feed a miner or an agricultural labourer but to make an economical savoury nibble for polite middle-class Victorians.”

Brears added that the granting of Protection of Geographical Indication under EU law in 2011, which means only pasties made in Cornwall can be called ‘Cornish pasties’, has “totally bemused” most Brits.

He continued: “A product made throughout the country for at least a century and which they, like me, had purchased under that name everywhere between Dover and Berwick-upon-Tweed could no longer be sold under that name.”

A spokesperson from Cornish Pasty Association repsonded: "The application for protection of the name Cornish Pasty does not make any claim about the origin of the pasty, it is of much greater relevance that the genuine recipe now protected by the EU is a distinctive product that has strong and verified cultural associations with Cornwall going back hundreds of years."

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