Cornish Food Identity in the "Land Apart"

By: Andrea Broomfield  

I begin with an overview of the pasty’s beginnings as a cereal paste surrounding a filling, to its ubiquity as the miner’s croust (dinner), to its identification with Cornwall proper. Over the last century, the pasty has come to encapsulate many Cornish virtues, including self-sufficiency. Containing a full meal in a sturdy edible pouch helped thousands of laborers avoid the need to pay others to make food for them. Equally important is the pasty’s identity with hardship and the Cornish tendency to embrace and learn lessons from struggle. In this regard, the pasty’s ingredients and construction mirror both economic booms and busts. When hundreds of mines closed down in the 1860s, putting many Cornish families out of work, the pasty was reduced to a barley-and-water paste encasing potato, onion, and swede. It baked in the ashes of the meagre family fire. In boom times, the pasty was enhanced, with wheat and fat replacing the barley and water crust, and beef bulking out the insides. As present-day Cornwall grapples with Brexit, debates a Cornish Assembly (Senedh Kernow), introduces Cornish into schools, and confronts the complexities of globalization, the pasty as both food and symbol gains importance. The hard-won victory to secure its PGI status in 2011 is indicative. No longer can a food called a Cornish pasty be made outside of Cornwall, and it must be made to exacting standards and ingredients. This delicious hand-held food joins the Cornish Pirates, St. Piran's flag, and Tintagel as an enduring symbol of pride and resistance to being “Britished out of existence” (See G. Evans, The Fight for Welsh Freedom, 2000, p. 124).

"Food Sovereignty", " Ethnic", " Regional", " Culture"
Food Policies, Politics, and Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Dr. Andrea Broomfield

-, -, Johnson County Community College, United States
Kansas, United States

I am an English professor and food historian, author of _Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History_(Praeger, 2007) and _Kansas City: A Food Biography_(Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). I am currently co-authoring with Beebe Bahrami a book entitled "The Atlantic Celts: A Gastronomic Memoir from Ireland to Iberia" with anticipated publication in 2020. I currently co-teach courses on food culture and history for my college's hospitality-culinary program, as well as courses focused on food writing.