9 Iconic Cornish Foods
April 30th, 2018
Cornwall is undoubtedly one of the UK’s leading foodie destinations. Renowned for its thriving restaurant scene, with offerings from top chefs such as Rick Stein, you’ll find plenty of fantastic foodie spots around the coastal county. However, it isn’t all about the Michelin stars here, as there is an abundance of traditional delicacies created in Cornwall that rightfully hold their place as the most iconic of Cornwall’s food. The people of Cornwall are so proud of their food even that many of these delicious treats are geographically protected, meaning that no one else can make use of the reputable Cornish name! Here are some of our favourite dishes!
Cornish Cream Tea
While the origin of the cream tea has long been battled over with neighbouring county Devon, the scone is still as popular as ever Cornwall. If you are enjoying a nice cream tea in the Duchy, then it is important to remember the ordering rules, for fear of being deported back over to Devon! The scone must first be spread with jam before it is topped with a big dollop of clotted cream. Do this the other way round in Cornwall and you will be shunned!
There are over 60 varieties of cheese produced in Cornwall, but none are quite as famous as the Cornish Yarg. The semi-hard cheese is made from cow’s milk and has an edible rind formed from nettle leaves. Not to worry about getting your tongue stung though, as they are frozen first to remove the sting. The texture of the cheese is often likened to Caerphilly. Cornish Yarg has long been enjoyed in the coastal county, with recipes dating back as far as the 13th century!
Originating from the fishing village of Mousehole in the 16th century, Stargazy Pie is one of Cornwall’s most famous, and strangest, dishes. Beneath its pastry crust is a combination of eggs, potatoes and pilchards. However, what makes this dish truly special is the fact that the pilchards’ heads poke out of the pie crust so that they are gazing at the stars!
Cornwall is ubiquitous with the pasty, and the humble snack has seen a meteoric rise in popularity in recent years. A typical Cornish pasty consists of a pastry filled with diced beef, potato, onion and swede, with the crust crimped on one side. Only pasties produced in Cornwall can be recognised as Cornish pasties, thanks to its Protected Geographical Indication. Pasties are now so popular that they contribute a staggering 5% to the Cornish economy.
With over 400 miles of coastline in Cornwall, it is no surprise that the fishing industry was second only to mining in the 18th and 19th century. Many of the quaint coastal villages that we enjoy today, such as Polperro and Mevagissey, came to be due to pilchard fishing. As such, pilchards became somewhat of a Cornish food staple, making their way into many dishes, such as the famous stargazy pie. Also known as the ‘Cornish sardine’, these fish will be found at many food festivals and markets throughout Cornwall.
Similar to a teacake, the saffron bun is a popular Cornish teatime treat. This rich, spiced bun is flavoured with saffron, one of the most expensive spices in the world, giving it the distinctive yellow colouring. The bun also contains currants.
Also known as heavy cake, the hevva cake is also associated with the pilchard fishing times. To help the fishermen locate shoals of fish, a person, known as a huer, would stand atop a cliff and shout ‘Hevva!’ to alert the boats as to where the pilchard shoals were. Once the fish had been caught, hevva cakes would be baked, using lard, butter, flour, sugar, milk and raisins, to celebrate the catch. Traditionally, the cakes would sport a criss-cross pattern on the top, to represent the fishermen’s nets.
Considered to be the traditional biscuit of Cornwall, the Cornish Fairing is similar to a ginger nut, although they are a little more buttery. These biscuits get their name from having been sold at fairs around the country, particularly during the Victorian era.
While crabs can be caught in many spots around the Cornish coast, it is the ones found at Newlyn, near Penzance, which are undeniably the best. Setting the standards for crab meat, the Newlyn crabs contain both brown and white meat, coming from the claws. The white meat is exceptional in sandwiches, while the richer brown meat is used in stocks and soups.
Which of these delicious dishes have you tried? Be sure to give some a try during your stay at our luxury Cornish cottages!