Pasty contest draws global interest

Food lovers from around the world have descended on Cornwall to celebrate a particular delicacy - the Cornish pasty.

The inaugural World Pasty Championships saw more than 100 pasty-makers, amateur and professional, pit their crimped products against each other.

Most were from Cornwall but people came from as far away as the United States to pit themselves against experienced locals and win favour from a judging panel of experts at the Eden Project tourist attraction, near St Austell.

Dave Meneer, the head judge, said: "We weren't sure what to expect, we have had 102 entries today and actually for the first time out that feels about right. I have tasted a few. They all taste great, I am genuinely saying that as a pasty eater, (but) one or two of them looked a bit funny.

"Typically the judges are judging in pairs. There are 20 of them, and they are judging two or three each. They are all marked to a standard set of marks, so they are all scored out of 100 and they have to mark on crimping and taste and pasty and texture, all of those things."

Pasties are taken very seriously in Cornwall, where they started out as a simple convenience food for tin miners and agricultural labourers centuries ago but remain a popular lunch for anyone ranging from farmers to office workers.

So seriously are they taken that in July last year the Cornish pasty joined a growing list of Europe's privileged foods whose names are protected from imitation.

Only pasties made in Cornwall to a specific recipe can now claim to be "Cornish pasties" after they were granted EU Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status.

Under PGI it has to be made in the traditional shape, crimped on one side.

The contents are simply uncooked minced or chunks of beef, swede, potato, and onion "with a light seasoning". Additions like peas and carrots are frowned upon, but Mr Meneer added: "We do have a section today which is completely open, so there are all sorts in there, including squirrel."