Let’s hear it for a great British product the Cornish pasty and a brilliant tale or vanquished regret – oggy, oggy, oggy oi, oi, oi!
IF YOU have been listening to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show this week, then you will know all about the #PassThePasty phenomenon.
A Cornish pasty has been travelling pass-the-parcel style from its baker creators in the south west of England all the way to Aberdeenshire in Scotland.
And the reason for this mercy mission? Listener Sarah expressed her regret she had never eaten one before and the team decided to put that right, giving a whole new meaning to public service broadcasting.
.@gregjames is sending a pasty from Cornwall to listener Sarah in Aberdeenshire, who has never had a pasty before! And we want the help of YOU our wonderful listeners. If you’re near the pasty and can help it on its journey, then please get in touch to help us out #PassThePasty pic.twitter.com/xNERzIR1yW— BBC Radio 1 (@BBCR1) September 3, 2018
The intrepid food stuff relay-raced its way to the final destination – Newmachar – after four days of travel across the British Isles, 19 stops and 674 miles.
Its adventures included a visit to @BurnleyOfficial Football Club ground, a stint on the @TourofBritain route and a trip on the #FlyingScotsman steam train to help rack up the miles.
To the sound of the bagpipes, a ravenous Sarah sank her teeth into the pastry sensation and exclaimed: “I have no words. This is brilliant!”
Originally a calorie-filled, transportable meal for hungry workers – possibly the first real convenience food – it would have contained cheap ingredients such as potato, swede and onion without the succulent meat that is included today. That came later as people grew into bigger meat eaters and pasties became more widely consumed.
It was the advent of Cornish mining in the 19th century that really brought the pasty into its own and made it an important part of the life of so many Cornish families. Pasties were taken down the mines by the adults and children who worked there; the shape and size made them ideal for carrying. They became the staple for the daily ‘crib’ or ‘croust’ – Cornish dialect for a bite to eat, usually taken mid-morning.
It is thought miners gave the pasty its distinctive D shape too – the crust became a handle, which was discarded to prevent contaminating the food with grubby, possibly arsenic-ridden hands. Others will dispute this, arguing that miners ate their pasties wrapped in muslin or paper bags so that they could enjoy every last bit, as is done today.
For many families, pasty-making was a daily task and recipes were passed from mothers to daughters, rarely written down. Producing a magic pasty takes a certain knack and many cooks take so much pride in theirs that not many will share their secret ingredients. Some have even been known to take them to the grave, refusing even to give them to their offspring.
At least 120 million pasties are made in Cornwall each year and are the mainstay of every village and high street bakers. They generate £300 million-worth of trade for the Cornish economy, representing 20 per cent of the total turnover of the county’s food and drink sector, with at least 2000 people employed in their production.
The most popular cut of beef for the pasty is the skirt, a long, flat, boneless piece from the diaphragm muscle, prized for its flavour.
Crimping is the technique of sealing the pasty and is still done by hand in the vast majority of pasty bakeries. A skilled crimper can do three or four a minute, although seven has been known. If the crimper is left-handed, they produce a cock pasty. If they are right-handed, it is a hen pasty.
The cry ‘oggy, oggy, oggy’ was thought to originate from pasty seller or tin miners’ wives announcing the arrival of their freshly-baked wares. The enthusiastic acknowledgement was ‘oi, oi, oi’.
Pasties made in Cornwall are transported every day, chilled or frozen, across Britain and the world – maybe just by more conventional means than those encouraged by Greg James and Radio 1.
And a pasty for breakfast? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.