Last Saturday I attended the annual Pasty Festival in Redruth, where we celebrate the international home of the Cornish pasty. The weather was glorious, and I even tried my hand at making my own pasty!
When we think of the mass Cornish migrations of the late nineteenth century, we tend to think of the moves to Australia, South Africa or the US but Cornish miners fanned out across the world taking their mining and engineering expertise to new countries. Wherever the Cornish miners from Redruth went, they took the Cornish pasty with them.
Cornish miners also settled at Real Del Monte in Mexico. I have previously met local representatives from the town when they visited the Heartlands project in Pool and there were other Mexican pasty makers in attendance last Saturday and there was a Mexican band.
Cornish miners were responsible for developing silver mining in Real Del Monte during the nineteenth century. They also introduced football and other sports to Mexico. Hundreds of Cornish miners ended their lives in the area and many are to be found in one of the local cemeteries, apparently facing home to Cornwall which was a common request at the time. This cemetery was damaged by storms earlier this year and credit is due to Mike Kiernan from the Cornish Global Migration Programme who helped raise funds to repair it.
Today the Cornish heritage is evident in some of their architecture and in their love of pasties.
Four years ago, I and Cornwall’s other MPs, were in the middle of a battle to reverse the government’s decision to put VAT on freshly baked pasties. The traditional exemption from VAT was what civil servants described as an “anomaly”. Thankfully, common sense prevailed and George Osborne intervened to reverse the measure and ensure that the Cornish Pasty continued to be given the special treatment it deserves. Last Saturday was really well attended with a buzz about the town.