Friday, 4 March 2011

Crimp my Pasty!

A Ginster's Cornish Pasty
Two of the joys of life are seasonal and regional produce. From a Fat Rascal (a Yorkshire fruit tea bun) to the Wensleydale cheese I so love with a morsel of fruit cake to the delicate white flesh of an Arbroath Smokie. 

Local produce is great and where once these products were literally only available locally the rise of rail and road transport saw these goods transported to towns and cities and across the land. Foods that reflected local topography, commerce and requirements in many cases extended beyond the locality in which they were created. The addition of the place name can imbue a product with positive imagery, evoking the rural, the old, the never-changing. It might be mythical in many cases, but it resonates.

Is a Cornish Pasty vastly superior to one made in Devon? Is it better than one made in Milton Keynes or Carlisle? One can understand the Cornish wanting to claim the heritage as the inventor of a novelly shaped pasty filled with nourishing ingredients, designed to fuel the work of a Cornish tin miner deep down a hot and dirty hole. Today the pasty is 'food on the move', the well loved snack of drivers and those who can't or won't stop for a meal break. It's beloved of visitors to Cornwall, just walk through the streets of St Ives and count how many people are joyously munching their way through their pasties. 

The last time I ate a Cornish Pasty was following a meeting I had at Ginster's. Part of the brand experience and also my lunch. Ginster's rightly claim their local credentials as Larry File, their Brand Communications Manager, states, "It really is an important industry in Cornwall. More than 2,000 people are directly employed in it." The announcement that only pasties produced in Cornwall are able to be labelled 'Cornish' resulted in welcome publicity. There's an issue of shape here too. Pasties crimped on the top and not at the side are also unable to be called Cornish, so there are manufacturers who are genuinely  'Cornish' who will have to alter their crimp.

Hot from the Brand Guardians kitchen...not a 'Cornish' but a hearty meal in itself following the traditional recipe - and no carrot!
The Protected Geographical Indicator, the system under which the origins of products, has become increasingly important in recent years as a means by which producers protect the uniqueness and quality of their products and ultimately their livelihoods. They also deliver a guarantee to the consumer. So whereas a piece of cheddar cheese can originate from anywhere, White Stilton and Blue Stilton cannot. 

There are three different designations under the system:

The Protected Designation of Origin (PDO)
For products processed and prepared in a specific geographical area where the features and characteristic of the product is due to that area.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)
For products produced or processed within a specific area where they have a reputation, features or certain qualities attributable to that area.
Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG) 
For products which are traditional or have customary names and a set of features which distinguish them from similar products, not be due to the geographical area it is produced nor based on technical advances in the method of production.

The Camberwell Pasty
Our contribution to local food. A new variety with a local feel. An 'all rounder' plenty of crust, lots of lean and vitamin filled filling for busy urbanites on the move.
So, if you like Yorkshire Forced Rhubarb, Cornish Sardines, Whitstable Oysters, Rutland Bitter, Melton Mowbray Pork Pie and Jersey Royal Potatoes are all registered. Many more will follow. These products command a premium because they promise to deliver a high level of quality and taste established over generations. They're important tools in the Grocer's brand armoury. Each has their time and place. Eat them all at once and you'll have mighty indigestion!

(I think it sounds like a rather perfect pub lunch - Kate)

by Pauline