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Never eat anything bigger than your head
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Whenever you see crossed chives you are in trouble
We should all be eating less meat and better meat

ARE PASTIES PAST THEIR BEST

We do get some compensations for growing old and knobbly. Only live long enough and there comes a time when a good many of the stories in the media strike familiar chords and realisation dawns that there is less original writing out there as we are led to believe. But it’s good to meet with old friends, this week there is an article about pasties which rehashed (perhaps that should be refreshed?) a good deal of pasty lore. There’s the story that pasties were strong enough to withstand being dropped down a mineshaft. There’s the tale that the thick crimp was invented so that miners could eat the pasty and then throw the pastry “handle” which their hands would have contaminated with arsenic. There’s the great Cornish versus Devon argument. Lots of this stuff is made-up. There are three different ways of sealing a pasty – bottom crimp; side crimp; and top crimp. Strictly speaking, when the top crimp is used this pastry cased treat becomes a hoggin rather that a pasty. (The newspaper piece in question had a glossy photograph of a tray of “hoggins” captioned “pasties”). Much of that “only Cornish” origins stuff is spurious. Lancashire, Cumbria and Yorkshire have turned out their own pasties since the 1880’s. From 2011 the Cornish pasty has had “PGI – protection of geographical indication”. Sensibly enough this means that a Cornish pasty must be made in Cornwall, but the arguments continue to rage. What goes into a pasty? The consensus is beef, potato and swede. The biggest shock of all lies in the size of a genuine pasty – those fine Cumbrian pasties, and Cornish pasties in Victorian times, were tiny – no more than a couple of inches long – which makes a radical change to the balance between filling and pastry. More cocktail snack than miners packed lunch. So surprise surprise those huge pasties sweating in hot cabinets at railway stations may be unauthentic. Perhaps Cornish pasties should really be called Cornish empanadas?

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