Cornish Cuisine is Ready for Its Close-up

A big thank you to Country Walkers for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

As always in our travels, food plays an integral role in our explorations. That was even more important on our recent trip to Cornwall because it was a walking tour, so needless to say we needed all of the energy we could get.

A traditional Cornish breakfast  starts out similar to our American version with eggs,  fried potatoes, bacon, and sausage, but then veers off our usual fare by adding tomato, mushrooms, and black or hog’s pudding, which is a spicy mixture of pork, suet, bread, and oatmeal or pearl barley.

Odd as some of that sounds, we grew to love it, and unlike the rest of England, it did not include beans. That was a plus in our book.

We also found that fish dishes were often offered as an alternative morning meal, and in an attempt to avoid getting bogged down with the same breakfast every day we tried a couple of them. Often it was as simple as baked cod or salmon, but an Indian style curry dish of haddock, rice, parsley, hard-boiled eggs, and butter or cream called kedgeree was a happy discovery. Still, in our minds this may have fit better as a lunch.

Speaking of lunch, a pasty, pronounced pass-tee, is the go to fast food in Cornwall, so much so that they have been given Protected Geographical Indication status. Traditional pasties consist of a sturdy crust filled with beef, potato, swede (also known as turnip in Cornwall) and onion. They are designed to be hand-held, as in hand to mouth.

We first encountered these delicious pies in the U.P. of Michigan several years ago, and learned that they were brought there by Cornish miners back in the 1800s. The origins of the pasty in Europe are unclear, but there are many mentions of similar turnovers going back centuries. No doubt Cornish bakers were not the first to think of stuffing meat and potatoes into a crust, but they certainly perfected it.

Another quick bite is the classic pork pie. If it sounds like we’re saying we’d eat our hat it’s because the shape of these little meat pies is how the chapeau got its name. They are generally served cold, like revenge, and not particularly unique to Cornwall, but we had to try one.

For an afternoon pick me up, cream tea is just the ticket. This is true across the U.K., but in the Cornish version the scone is first slathered with strawberry jam, then topped with clotted cream, which is backwards from the process that originated in Devon.

Not knowing any better, we applied our cream and jam backwards.

Although the debate about the order of application for the jam and clotted cream on a scone may never be resolved, cream teas are served and enjoyed both cream first and jam first throughout the kingdom.

Ice cream is also an enormously popular afternoon snack, especially near the beach. Cornwall is renowned for its dairy products and with one lick of a cone we knew why. The secret is that the confection is created using Cornish clotted cream, which makes for a much richer flavor and creamier consistency. We may never look at ice cream the same way again.

A Cornish dinner is a varied affair, as with most everywhere, but seafood is often the star of the show. We were lucky enough to experience this at one of the premier restaurants in the region, Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, feasting on fresh scallops and lobster.

Afterwards we were treated to spectacular desserts featuring fresh berries, chocolate, and more of the incredible cream that Cornwall is famous for.

In addition to the bounty from the sea, Cornish food directly reflects the area’s agriculture, so lamb, potatoes, barley, peas, and cabbage are all quite common, and on our last evening we found them all together in a sumptuous stew.

Certainly nothing fancy, but perhaps the best meal of the trip and a great way to finish.

See more from our Cornwall walking tour here.

See all of our adventures in England.

A big thank you to Country Walkers for providing this adventure, as always, all opinions are our own.

David & Veronica,

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