The Meat Pasty Makers of Cornwall Don’t Want to Leave the EU

If Britain leaves the EU, poser pasties will abound.

BUDE, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 09:  Julie Martin from Pengenna Pasties prepares their version of a Cornish pasty in their bakery in Bude on September 9 2008 in Cornwall, England. The EU is currently considering an application that would give the Cornish pasty protected status and if successful, only pasty makers in Cornwall that use strict traditional methods and recipes for their meat and vegetable snacks would be able to use the trademark, which would end copy-cat products from branding and marketing their products as being Cornish pasties.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDE, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 09: Julie Martin from Pengenna Pasties prepares their version of a Cornish pasty in their bakery in Bude on September 9 2008 in Cornwall, England. The EU is currently considering an application that would give the Cornish pasty protected status and if successful, only pasty makers in Cornwall that use strict traditional methods and recipes for their meat and vegetable snacks would be able to use the trademark, which would end copy-cat products from branding and marketing their products as being Cornish pasties. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
BUDE, UNITED KINGDOM - SEPTEMBER 09: Julie Martin from Pengenna Pasties prepares their version of a Cornish pasty in their bakery in Bude on September 9 2008 in Cornwall, England. The EU is currently considering an application that would give the Cornish pasty protected status and if successful, only pasty makers in Cornwall that use strict traditional methods and recipes for their meat and vegetable snacks would be able to use the trademark, which would end copy-cat products from branding and marketing their products as being Cornish pasties. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Roughly diced or minced beef. Sliced or diced potato. Rutabaga. Onion. Seasoning to taste. At least 12.5 percent beef and 25 percent vegetables. Shortcrust, rough puff, or puff pastry crust, sturdy enough to bring down the mines, across the fields, and out to sea. Produced west of the Tamar, in the wonderful county of Cornwall, England. That’s what makes the mighty Cornish pasty, according to the Cornish Pasty Association.

These pasties, or baked pastries, have stood the test of time. But they are under threat, according to the association, which says it is “the home of everything you need to know about the Cornish pasty.” That’s why, after having “been asked numerous times about the impact of a possible exit from the EU,” the association decided to take a stand. This month, it has come out in strong support of Britain remaining in the European Union.

On Thursday, June 23, Britain goes to the polls to decide on the question of a “Brexit” — whether or not Britain will leave the EU. "It is time for the British people to have their say,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech on the referendum. “It is time to settle this European question in British politics." And Cornish pasty makers have chosen their side.

Roughly diced or minced beef. Sliced or diced potato. Rutabaga. Onion. Seasoning to taste. At least 12.5 percent beef and 25 percent vegetables. Shortcrust, rough puff, or puff pastry crust, sturdy enough to bring down the mines, across the fields, and out to sea. Produced west of the Tamar, in the wonderful county of Cornwall, England. That’s what makes the mighty Cornish pasty, according to the Cornish Pasty Association.

These pasties, or baked pastries, have stood the test of time. But they are under threat, according to the association, which says it is “the home of everything you need to know about the Cornish pasty.” That’s why, after having “been asked numerous times about the impact of a possible exit from the EU,” the association decided to take a stand. This month, it has come out in strong support of Britain remaining in the European Union.

On Thursday, June 23, Britain goes to the polls to decide on the question of a “Brexit” — whether or not Britain will leave the EU. “It is time for the British people to have their say,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech on the referendum. “It is time to settle this European question in British politics.” And Cornish pasty makers have chosen their side.

The EU recognizes the Cornish pasty as a protected food name. That means poser pasties can’t claim to be the real thing, which gives the tried and true Cornish pasty makers valuable protection. “It would be wholly inappropriate… to support anything that could potentially impact” that protected status, the association said in a statement.

The hearty meat snack has long tempted various imitators.

On Thursday, August 28, 1862, First Baron Swansea Henry Vivian — a Welsh industrialist, member of Parliament, and president of the Cambrian Archaeological Association — entered one such attempt into the historical record.

“The Cornish pasty, which so admirably comprises a dinner in itself — meat, potatoes, and other good things well cooked and made up into so portable a form — was a subject of much admiration, and reminded me of the old coaching days, when I secured a pasty at Bodmin in order to take it home to my cook, that it might be dissected and serve as a pattern for Cornish pasties in quite another part of the country,” he told those assembled at the association’s evening meeting in Land’s End, Cornwall, the most westernly point in all of England. Like any true archeologist, he wanted to investigate, and to reverse engineer what he had discovered, so mightily had it beguiled his palette.

Vivian could do as he pleased 150 years ago. If he attempted the same thing now, however, and tried to sell his imitation outside Cornwall, he’d risk running afoul of the law. Under the EU’s Protected Geographical Indication status provisions, a Cornish pasty cannot be marketed as such in any member state unless the meat pasty in question is in fact a genuine Cornish specimen, made according to the proper recipe and of Cornish provenance. A Brexit would change that.

Former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has campaigned vocally for a Brexit, attracted ire in May when he brandished an authentic Cornish pasty from the door of his “Vote Leave” campaign bus, helping it earn, among his detractors, the nickname “Boris’s blunder bus.”

“Were it not for the EU’s Protected Geographical Indication laws, our great Cornish pasties could be priced out by cheap pastiche pasties produced anywhere else in the world,” James McGrory, a campaigner against the Brexit proposal, told Huffpost Politics, United Kingdom.

Photo credit: MATT CARDY/Getty Images

Twitter: @bsoloway

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