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Marian Blazes

Empanadas and Cornish Pasties

By March 25, 2010

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We recently visited a California gold rush town, where we feasted on Cornish pasties of all things. During the 1800's, miners from Cornwall came to provide their mining expertise, and with them came one of their favorite snacks, the delicious Cornish pasty. Cornish pasties have remained a popular treat in several of these California towns after all these years.

What struck me was how incredibly similar Cornish pasties are to empanadas.  They have the same half moon shape, and a very similar crimped braid along the seal.  This is a picture of the Cornish pasty that I had for lunch - it could easily be mistaken for an empanada, no? The fillings are different of course, especially the seasoning.  Cornish pasties have hearty meat, onion and potato fillings, just like empanadas often do, but the seasoning tastes of pepper and herbs, more like chicken pot pie.  The pastry of a cornish pasty is much flakier than an empanada, because the fat (lard and butter) is only slightly blended in with the flour - like pie crust.  And I doubt there are any empanadas out there with turnips in the filling, nor are there cornish pasties with raisins, olives, and hard boiled eggs.

Still, the similarities are quite striking. Anyone know of any theories about a connection between the two? Did South American miners like to eat empanadas?  Empanadas came to South American via Spain and Portugal - so is Europe the common thread? Please feel free to post a comment if you have a thought!

Recipes and Information About Cornish Pasties
Empanada Recipes

Comments

February 22, 2011 at 2:28 pm
(1) BRIAN HIGGINSON says:

clearly the people of the english county like to steel other peoples ideas the pastie is obviousely south american which they took for there own as usual just like the english cream tea even the so called cornish ? language is not there own it originates from the west midlands and the north of england the language they stole they use to be devisive so im not sorry to say but everyone is being bamboozeled by the people who live in the english county of cornwall

April 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm
(2) Belle says:

Uhhhh what? Your comment makes no sense and your spelling is atrocious.

As best I know, empanadas and pasties have no direct influence on the other. They both arose out of need. Cornish miners would have lunch on site, so their wives would bake their typical lunch foods (meat, potato, basic garden staples) into a pastry “bag” so the meal would stay warm inside the pastry, not get dirty and because pastry was cheap but lunch pails were expensive.
Real cornish pasties has a thick ridged seam across the top which was used as a carry handle, which empanadas do not have.
It really doesnt take a genius to work out that putting food inside some form of pastry is a good idea, so I’m not surprised several cultures have invented something similar.

October 14, 2011 at 11:15 am
(3) Nathan Eddy says:

Because wherever there were mines there were cornishmen including Mexico and South America.

May 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm
(4) Mike says:

Different shape but same basic idea and has been around for countless centuries.
I would say it came from India like it says here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samosa

March 21, 2013 at 8:54 am
(5) Will Breeden says:

Some very interesting ideas from you all, some of which are very very improbable.

The most simple explanation is to be found in the Celtic connection between Spain and Cornwall. The word Empanada derives from the Galician verb (Galicia is a region of Northwest Spain) ‘empanar’ which means to wrap in bread or pastry.

The Galicians, like the people of Brittany in France and the Cornish in England all shared the Atlantic coast, and were all originally from the same Celtic people, trade went on between them, and many aspects of their respective culture, language and customs remains similar and this is the most likely cause of this culinary similarity.

September 2, 2013 at 12:31 am
(6) beauty salon truro says:

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November 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm
(7) Derek Kissach says:

Although I’m a couple of years late in stumbling across this page, I feel I have to leave a comment, as the first one is so bad.

I agree with Belle about the spelling. But even worse, the misinformed opinion passing for fact about the Cornish language, needs to be corrected. It’s got nothing to do with neither the West Midlands, nor the North of England. The Cornish language is a Gaelic language, close to Welsh, and similar to Breton in France. The other side of the Gaelic languages are Irish and (Scottish) Highland Gaelic.

As for the history, it’s anybody’s guess. Pasties have been around for hundreds of years, and the neighbouring county of Devon, claim their version is earlier.

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