The History of the Pasty

What is a pasty? According to the History of the Pasty:

“When the Cornish came to the copper mines of the Upper Peninsula, they brought with them a lot of mining knowledge which the other ethnic groups did not have.  The other ethnic groups looked up to the Cornish and wanted to emulate their mining successes.  Many Cornish practices were then copied by the other ethnic groups, including the pasty as the standard lunch for miners.  The pasty became popular with these other ethnic groups because it was small, portable, was very filling, and could stay warm for 8-10 hours.  Pasty rivalry occurred between the Finns, Swedes, Irish, Poles, Germans, Scots, Italians and French with each group contributing something in the way of seasoning and other ingredients.  All groups agree that pasties must contain two things, potatoes and onions.  The portability of the pasty not only made it easy to carry, but if it should get cold it would be relatively easy to heat up.  This was done by putting the pasty on a shovel and holding it over a head-lamp candle.  Miners never ate a pasty with a fork, they ate it end to end, and held it upright to keep the juices in.  Since entire Cornish families worked in mines and each member of the family wanted different ingredients in the pasty, the Cornish wife would stamp the bottom corner of each pasty with an initial.  According to the Cornish Recipes Ancient and Modern, “The true Cornish way to eat a pasty is to hold it in the hand, and begin to bite it from the opposite end to the initial, so that, should any of it be uneaten, it may be consumed later by its rightful owner.”

Have you ever eaten a pasty? Where is your favorite place to get a pasty? Do you have a family recipe that’s been passed down through the generations? Please share in the comments below!


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Vaibhav says:

    Fascinating post. Here in India there’s no dish called pasty – there’s something similar looking called patty (could be a mis-spelling?) of phyllo dough and curried vegetables (largely potatoes). Some vendors sell mince meat ones too. Looks exactly like your photo though. 🙂


    1. Yes! I know the dish you speak of. I love Indian food.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. R. Edwards-Monarch says:

    My Grandpa was a Cornish tin miner that came over here with a few miner buddies. He taught the cook at his boarding house here in the UP how to make pasties. That cook ended up becoming my grandmother.


    1. Very neat! Hopefully she passed down the recipe!


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