Archive for July 22nd, 2009

Historical Failure – Part One

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

Part one: Our Pal the Pasty

When I told a friend of mine that I was looking into doing a project where I explored the history of packed lunches, the first thing out of her mouth was something like “You gonna make Cornish Pasties?”  I told her yes, but what I was really thinking was “gaaaahhhh paste?”  Yeah, mind like a steel trap and all that.  My thoughts must have been clearly reflected on my face because my friend took pity on me and explained a bit about what a pasty was.

Associated with Cornwall (on the west coast of England), pasties are hand pies filled with mixed veggies and meat that are crimped along the edge.  Basic construction includes adding filler to a round piece of dough and then crimping the opn edges together to seal it up.  The pictures I’ve seen show both putting the filling directly in the middle and folding the two edges to meet in the center, or just adding filling on one side and folding it in half.

According to what I’ve read, pasties were a favorite of miners because they were filling, and could be eaten just by holding the crimped crust.  The crust could then be thrown away after being handled by dirty hands and instead fed to the ghosts that haunted the dark tunnels and shafts.  Also, pasties are traditionally large this way it could be spread over two meals.  Initials of the pasty’s owner were often put on one side of the pasty so that leftovers could easily be identified by the owner.  Some pasties even contained one savory and one sweet end so that you could have both your main meal and a dessert.

Pasties are one of the oldest forms of cook and carry food, so it would seem logical that some form of these would be found in early American packed lunches.  Regardless, I figured that making them would be a fun way to start my project.  Damn, I should really learn to stop listening to myself…

Oh, and for those of you who would like a bit more info on the history of the pasty head over to this article at What’s Cooking America.

Next time – Part Two: “Tastes like Failure”