Leading article: Life of pie

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The Cornish Pasty Association has prevailed. The Cornish people's great culinary gift to the world has been granted protected status by the European Union. Only pasties prepared in the county can now display the official Cornish pasty logo.

This recognition comes not before time. The pasty's history is entwined with that of our nation. Pasties were first referenced in a 13th-century charter. They appeared in The Canterbury Tales and the plays of Shakespeare. They have had royal endorsement, too: pasties were mentioned in one of Henry VIII's love letters to Jane Seymour. The classic Cornish pasty recipe – mince, swede, potato and onion – can be found in a 1746 document in the Cornwall Records Office.

The pasty is also a shining example of British innovation. It was one of the first portable meals. The crimped edge enabled tin-miners to grip their lunch without contaminating their meal with poisonous dust on their hands. It was thus one of the earliest examples of fast food – and there have been few healthier. Europe is often presented as the enemy of British food culture, issuing demands that the bananas we import be straightened, or that we buy vegetables by the kilo rather than the pound. No longer. Europe will henceforth be regarded as the protector of our pasties.

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