My angel in an apron cooks up the perfect pasty
Yew! Ask any Cornishman who makes the best pasty and he will invariably reply: "Mother!"
With St Piran's Day coming up – when it is the cultural duty of every Cornish man and woman to consume their national dish – Living Cornwall would like to hear about your favourites. Who gets their pastry just right? Who achieves that fine balance of ingredients? Who seasons to perfection?
Forget the big boys, the mega-bakeries that transport our joy to the world. And forget your mum (sorry, mother!). Think more farm gate, WI stall, micro-baker, farmers' market.
To kick it off, I'd like to introduce you to my own angel in an apron...
Marion Burchell cooks up some of the finest oggies I've ever tasted (and I've tasted a few). Created in the small kitchen of her Pensilva bungalow, she mainly sells at farmers' markets or will cook up a batch to order. And they're so good, if I didn't know better I'd suspect her of some form of witchcraft. Consistent in their quality, perhaps the key to this food heroine's success is her singularity of purpose. You see, Marion makes pasties. Not pies or cakes or bread or flans or sausage rolls. Just pasties. It's clearly a case of practice makes perfect. Mmmm, I can almost smell 'em. Hey, you at the back! Stop drooling!
Fortunately for the other competitors, Marion will not be taking part in tomorrow's inaugural World Pasty Championships. The event, at Eden, has been organised mainly to promote and celebrate our favourite tuck further afield, rather than to actually identify the best baker.
And the Cornish Pasty Association, which is backing the event, hopes people locally and across the world will take part.
Phil Ugalde of the CPA said: "If you know anything about Cornwall, you know that pasty making is a very emotive subject. People feel very proud of it – this was the original fast food."
Eden managing director Gaynor Coley added: "The pasty is one of the great icons of Cornwall and also one of its best exports, carried in the hands of all those hardy mining families who left this coast and who took their skills – and their favourite food – across the world."
Judges will be looking for the best pasty made to the traditional recipe. The CPA, which had to come up with the "genuine" recipe as part of its successful Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) application, said an authentic pasty should have a distinctive "D" shape and be crimped on one side, never on top.
It said the filling should be "made up of uncooked chunks of beef, swede, potato and onion, with a light seasoning" before being slow-baked. As well as the traditional variety, separate sections of the pasty championships will be held for alternative recipes hailing from different parts of the world.
But they'll all have to go a long way to beat one of Marion Burchell's. Cheers n'gone.