If you travel to deepest Cornwall, an age-old superstition can be found within the fishing community. It is said that merely to have a pasty aboard ship is to bring bad tidings. The roots of this myth, however, do not derive from some ill-fated storm or the like, but rather from the mining community. Protective of their invention, it is claimed that they put about the lie that a pasty would bring misfortune to sailors in order to keep the pasty for themselves.
Another myth relates to the Devil. It was said that he wouldn’t dare cross the River Tamar, which divides Cornwall from Devon, for fear that he would end up inside the county’s pasties. This fear derived from the knowledge that Cornish women would turn anything into a pasty filling, even the Devil himself.
Finally, we turn to the crusts of Cornish pasties. There is an area of debate in regards the reason for the crimped edge. Some insist that these were created to protect miners from being poisoned. Arsenic is often present in tin ore and thus the crust, so the story goes, acted like a handle. This allowed miners to eat the rest of the pasty without fear of contamination, the crust then being thrown away.However, due to a number of old pictures and photographs, this belief may well be a myth. These depict miners holding their pasties in paper bags or muslin and show no evidence of them leaving their crusts. Ultimately, no matter who’s right, the Cornish pasty just wouldn’t be same without their delicious edge of crimped pastry.
Story by Edwin Page. Image from Exeter University /Camborne School of Mines