Sunday 15 June 2008

Cornish Delights

When I think of Cornwall, I inevitably think of pasties, cream teas, and surfer dudes. I tried my hand at all these things in the week I was in Cornwall. I have to say, I'm much better at eating pasties and cream teas than being a surfer.

There were pasty shops everywhere in Padstow, most selling traditional pasties but also variations, such as spiced chickpea, or even sweet ones such as apple and blackberry. Rick Stein's deli even made crab pasties which I tried; it was quite unpleasant.

The pasty is said to originate from Cornwall, and they were originally made for lunch for the tin miners. As their hands would be dirty from the morning's work, the crimp was what you used to hold the pasty; you'd eat the semi-circle part and throw away the rest. Another rumour is that the pasties were half savoury and half sweet, so that you'd get your lunch and a dessert for afters. We didn't see any of them on sale though.

Being a seaside town, we also managed to get little pots of cockles and crayfish, served with vinegar and served in little polystyrene cups with a toothpick, so quintessentially in the style of the British seaside. I think this was perhaps the only seafood we ate which wasn't related to Stein. They even had jellied eels on offer, but I wasn't brave enough.

I suspect if we made it out fishing we would have gotten our fill, but alas, the seas were too choppy. Before us the skipper had taken out 11 people, and 6 were sick. He didn't fancy our chances. Perhaps we looked too much like city folk, Londoners. He'd probably be right.

One thing I wish more London chippies would do though, is scallops or oysters as a side. Rick Stein's fish and chip takeaway offered shucked or oyster frit and battered or grilled scallops.

Jonathan Swift once reportedly said "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster". I'd be inclined to agree; they're not particularly attractive specimens, but I simply cannot resist them. We went to the chippy twice, and for 90p each I couldn't help myself. I couldn't tell you exactly what type of oyster it was, but they were damn tasty - they were very fresh and sweet. A lot of people I've met don't like the idea of them as apparently they "look like snot". It's hard to convince people that this isn't true. If ever I was given good advice, it was from my dad - "always sniff an oyster before you eat it". Good advice indeed.


Anonymous said...

:) I like your analogy to oysters looking like snot. Unfortunately I tasted them and came to the conclusion they taste like it too! I think they must be an acquired taste....

Anonymous said...

I love oysters too - fabulous taste and the more the merrier. I haven't had them deep fried though so that's something to try.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm. Oyster Frites! Simply divine. We loved the frites so much we kept going back for more. It's a shame no where else does it in the UK - we've tried looking. Can't justify the 5-6 hour drive to Padstow just to eat them!

Anonymous said...

I once read John Lydon said a similar comment about oysters he ate. I find them ocasionaly, as I forage the coast.Bigbury perhaps is responsible, they are very good.
Other places Brownsea Island (a small farm). I know I should not say this but French fines de claire oysters are a great one, especialy for newcomers to oyster eating.