Monday, May 08, 2006

Geography of Food: The Pasty

The pasty is a hearty food. Inside a thick crust can be found diced meat along with potato, onion, rutabaga, and other vegetables. Common toppings include salt and ketchup, lots and lots of ketchup.


The Geographic Travel of the Pasty:

The pasty in its present form came from Cornwall, England. The reason for the creation of the pasty in Cornwall is because of the tin mine industry. Miners needed a filling food which could stay warm for hours and also supply vital calories. The food also needed a thick crust because tin on the finger tips would leak into food and act as a poison. The pasty was invented to fulfill this need. A combination of meats and vegetables was kept warm for hours in a thick crust. A ridge on the crust, designed to stop the poison from spreading into the food, could be held and thrown away.

The pasty was a huge hit with the Cornish miners. It quickly became a common dish in Cornwall in pubs and homes. When Cornish miners immigrated to the United States and elsewhere the pasty went with them.

Probably the most interesting place the Cornish and pasty went was the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Upper Peninsula (UP) has many resources including iron, copper, and silver. Small groups of Cornish immigrants migrated and became miners. Along with the Cornish were Finnish miners who adopted the pasty. Later even more Finns migrated to the UP. They saw their countrymen eating pasties and assumed it was some sort Finnish invention. The pasty was quickly adopted it into UP-Finnish culture. Today the UP is the only area of the United States with a Finnish plurality and the pasty is everywhere.

Doing a simple internet search will reveal an almost 50-50 split between the Cornish pasty and the "Finnish" pasty. Some of the top hits are from pasty shops in Michigan who will sale pasties over the internet. Pasty sales hit a high during the colder months but are common all year round. If you are ever in Cornwall, stop in a pub and enjoy a pasty with your drink. If you are ever in the UP, enjoy a pasty and do not forget to have ketchup, lots and lots of ketchup.

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