The pasty began over 300 years ago to meet the needs of Cornish tin miners who needed a simple, hearty meal. Meat and vegetables wrapped in a pastry casing made it a very practical lunch (known locally as a ‘Crowst’) as the filling was kept free of dust and soot.
Some Cornish mines even had huge ovens on the surface to keep the miners’ pasties hot until it was time to eat – miners’ wives would score their husband’s initials on the left-hand side of the casing so they could tell them apart from all the rest. The pastry crust, which would be thrown away, meant that miners could hold their pasties without their dirty hands (possibly including traces of arsenic from the mining) touching their food or their mouths.
Cornish miners would often leave a corner of their pasty for the ’little people’ of the mines that were believed to cause all manner of misfortune if they hadn’t been placated with a small amount of food.
Despite where its story began, the Cornish pasty is now one of the most popular snacks in Britain!
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