Perspective: Make mine a Cornish pasty
IF I had not been born and bred in Hertfordshire - and, despite its faults, have always enjoyed living in the county - I would have chosen to be a Cornishman.
I’ve regarded it as a magical land ever since I first ventured west of Devon when I was 16 years old and lived a happy, hippy dream during the school summer holiday.
It was my first time away from home and quite an experience, spending three weeks in a tent on the steep slope of a field leading towards the beach.
It was the Sixties and I was with a friend, who was destined to become a folk singer, along with his older brother who played the banjo and fancied himself as a busker.
So we trailed round the pubs in his wake waiting for the pennies to cascade into his upturned cap on the pavement.
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The freedom of the West Country was exhilarating and the locals were welcoming.
We wandered where we would and ate when we were hungry. Our base was the lovely village of Looe nestled in a valley leading down to the sea.
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The fish and chip shop was a popular stopping point but the meal I enjoyed most of all was the Cornish pasty available from the butcher’s shop along the main narrow street in Looe.
It cost 10p a time, was just the right size to satisfy a starving teenager and was the best pasty I have ever scoffed. Nothing since has surpassed it, although many imitators have disappointed.
The combination of ingredients in the pasty was perfect. They were made locally, of course, and you had to be there early in the day to get one before the latest batch were snapped up.
I knew then that these pasties from the land of dragons were special. Now I’m pleased to learn that the European Commission no less has given them protected status.
After a nine-year struggle by producers, from next week the real McCoy has a PGI on it – protected geographical indication - which means that only those pasties produced in Cornwall can be called Cornish. Anything similar made anywhere else in the world is just a pasty.
Now I think we should be turning our attention to real Cornish scrumpy, the sort of farm-produced amber nectar which used to arrive by barrel at a Looe hostelry to go on sale at 7pm each evening. There was always a queue of people waiting to sample it. It cost one shilling a pint and a pint-and-a-half of it was enough to challenge many men.
I was quite willing to join the line to quaff the brew or get hold of a pasty. But I would not have gone as far as a hungry woman in Cardiff the other day.
She wrecked a shop because it had run out of her favourite flavour of fairy cake. Glass display units were smashed, shelves knocked down and cupcakes were thrown at staff and shoppers.
One would not see that sort of behaviour in a well-run Cornish pasty shop.