Official: only pasties from Cornwall are Cornish

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Indy Lifestyle Online

All over Cornwall, champagne corks are popping. The county's humble pasty, like the fizzy French wine, has been afforded protected status.

Following a long campaign the European Commission has ruled that only pasties prepared in Cornwall and following the traditional recipe can now be described as Cornish.

The dish joins an exclusive list of products with "protected geographical indication" status, including Stilton and Roquefort cheese, port wine and Parma ham. Larry File, a spokesman for Ginsters of Cornwall, one of the UK's leading pasty makers, said: "It's good news for all pasty producers in Cornwall. It is a really important industry in Cornwall. More than 2,000 people are directly employed in it."

As well as this geographical restriction pasties that include carrot can no longer be described as Cornish. More controversially, neither can those crimped on top, and not on the side as is the the correct Cornish style.

One pasty maker from Devon, where they like to crimp on top, described the ruling as a "black day", condemning European bureaucrats.

Morrisons, the supermarket, said it would have to rename many of its pasties. Sainsburys too said it had stocks from food suppliers outside Cornwall. Many supermarket pasty suppliers are not based in Cornwall.

Alan Adler, chairman of the Cornish Pasty Association, set up in 2002 exclusively for the purpose of achieving this recognition, said: "By guaranteeing the quality of the Cornish pasty we are helping to protect our British food legacy. We lag far behind other European countries like France and Italy, that have hundreds of food products protected, and it's important that we value our foods just as much."

Other pasty makers will be allowed to continue but may no longer brand their products with the word Cornish. However, authentic Cornish-made pasties can still be finished elsewhere in Britain as is the case with popular pasty retailers such as the West Cornwall Pasty Co.

The Cornish pasty is popularly believed to have been invented for tin miners to eat underground. They were easy to reheat and the crimped edge was used as a handle and discarded.

For the association, the key elements of a Cornish pasty are abundantly clear. It said a genuine pasty had a distinctive "D" shape and was crimped on one side never on top.

"The texture of the filling is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5 per cent), swede, potato and onion with a light seasoning. The pastry casing is golden in colour, savoury, glazed with milk or egg and robust enough to retain its shape throughout the cooking and cooling process without splitting or cracking. The pasty is slow-baked and no artificial flavourings or additives must be used."

The earliest references to the Cornish pasty date from the 13th century. It is not the county's first entry on the protected list which also features clotted cream and, since November 2009, the Cornish sardine. There are 42 other British protected products including Melton Mowbray pork pies and Arbroath Smokies.