Posted on 09th April 2014
Standing among the most popular holiday destinations of the UK, the rich history, scenic tours and relaxed way of life found across Cornwall make it the perfect place to head in search of peace and tranquillity.
While you explore the endless catalogue of blue-flag beaches or peruse the streets of the quaint harbourside towns that are brimming with tradition and charm, it’s almost certain that you will work up quite an appetite while staying in one of the beautiful coastal cottages in Cornwall. With this in mind, why not expand your cultural voyage of the Duchy to your palate and sample some of the region’s traditional recipes?
Sure to look like no pie you’ve ever seen before, the stargazy pie is a fish pie that traditionally contains sand eels, dogfish, ling, horse mackerel and herring. This combination of seafood is then mixed with eggs and potatoes before being encased in a shortcrust pastry top. The key ingredient is whole pilchards, the heads of which will be shaped to protrude out from the pastry. While this method helps them look to be gazing skyward, reflecting the name of the pie, it also has a practical method because it allows the oils released during cooking to flow back into the pie.
Showcasing Cornish food at its best, the dish originates from the fishing village of Mousehole near Penzance, which was thought to have been served to commemorate the bravery of a 16th Century fisherman called Tom Bawcock, who went out on his boat during a severe winter storm to save the whole village from the threat of starvation. It’s this story that was used as the basis for The Mousehole Cat, a children’s book written by Antonia Barber which won the 1991 British Book Award for Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year.
Image Credit: Nick J Webb (flickr.com)
Cheese makes up a large part of Cornish food, although none offers quite the same taste as Cornish Yarg. Produced solely in the Duchy, it is a semi-hard cheese produced from the milk of Friesian cows. After being left to mature, the cheese is wrapped in nettle leaves which, in time, form an edible rind. The uniqueness about Cornish yarg is its varying textures, from the crumbly texture in the middle to the beautifully soft and creamy cheese found just under the skin. A variant is the Cornish wild garlic yarg, which is covered in wild garlic leaves in place of nettles. Although widely available in supermarkets, the cheese is at its best when it comes straight from Lynher Dairies.
By far the most famous of all the Cornish foods, the popularity of the pasty is incredible and, despite being initially popular with the working class, it continues to be the snack of choice for people all over the country to this day. Whether you call it the ‘teddy’, ‘oggie’ or ‘pastie’, the traditional key ingredients are beef, swede, onion and potato. This delicious concoction is then spooned into the middle of pastry circles, which are in turn folded in half and sealed with the trademark crimp. It’s this crimp that is thought to have made the pasty popular with Cornish miners during the 17th and 18th Century, with the cooler crimp enabling them to eat the pasty without getting any dirt in their mouths.
As the pasty is considered the national dish of Cornwall, the Cornish Pasty name was awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PDI) status by the European Commission in July 2011 following a nine-year-long campaign by the Cornish Pasty Association. While they are available to sample all over the country, why not taste them at their very best during your Cornwall family holidays?
Image Credit: Joe Gough (Shutterstock.com)