Friday, November 23, 2007

Cornish Pasties

Reading the Great Big Vegetable Challenge has been illuminating for me. For starters… I've realized I’m pickier than I thought I was.

I make a rather embarrassing little kid blech! face when parsnip, rutabaga and brussel sprouts are discussed as potential menu items. It’s not that I’ve never cooked with any of those things (I have), but… well, who wants to think they’re as picky as a little kid? Not me. Turns out, though, I’m not... un-picky. I feel pretty comfortable saying I’m not a quinto quarto (innards) kind of girl. I’ve had pasta sauced with intestine. I’ve had my share of liver pate. I’ve had scrapple. And really, yuck. Scrapple sucks (and for those of you from Pennsylvania who consider it a beloved food of your childhood: I hear you, I respect that you like it and it’s a distinct regional food employing thrift and ingenuity, and I still think it sucks). The GBVC helps me remember, as a parent (and it turns out I'm a rather picky one, even if I'm in some denial about my pickiness), to put different foods in front of my kids and just see how it goes. Because while I may be their mother, they’re still going to surprise me. If I expect them to be polite, and try what’s in front of them… it can turn out pretty well sometimes. Other times it can feel like a delicate, emotionally charged hostage situation that could spin completely out of control at any moment, but you can’t win every time. I was bummed that the GBVC was doing the potato, a venerated vegetable in my house, right when the kids came down with the flu, one at a time. As they wrapped up the flu, I had an ice hockey tournament (in which, while weighing whether or not to line up a player who had hurt one of my team-mates, I spent too much time listening to the internal debate between my conscience and my anger, forgot to pay attention to skating, tripped over my own feet and went headfirst into the boards. Apparently I am Moe and Larry for my Curly.), and then once I finished my post-tournament Advil party (4 games in 48 hours requires a little ibuprofen, at least for me), came Thanksgiving, and since the big feed was at our house, just the grocery shopping required a fairly substantial amount of time. Potato participation opportunities were severely limited, and I would read the GBVC and frown.

But… I realized, there was a wee window, Wednesday night, in which I could participate. And I knew what I wanted to do: Cornish pasties. Meat and potato hand pie? What’s not to like? Granted, the GBVC had since moved on to variations of baked potatoes, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. The few times I’ve gone to Cornwall, I’ve eaten pasties as often as possible. One of my favorite lunches, ever, was when my mom and I bought pasties in the morning, and went for a walk on the coastal trail. When we got hungry, we stopped and ate our pasties (I think she may have gotten me two, as she was trying to fatten me back up after a winter-long bout with pneumonia that very briefly left me a size 2). The ocean surged against the cliffs, the sea air was all damp and lovely and the pasties managed not to be nasty and congealed, although you would think something with that much butter and meat juice would have been. Instead, they were scrumptiously moist and still retained a tiny bit of warmth, just the thing for a long walk in the mild air.

However, it’s never, ever, occurred to me to make a pasty. Why? I don’t know. I am probably not the best person to ask why I am so deeply oblivious. However, seeing that Charlotte actually took her kids to a pasty-maker to learn to make them (how cool is that?) I realized, in a dimwitted person’s epiphany, that I, too, could make pasties.

So we grated up a rutabaga (which was what I guessed a Swede is) and both grated and finely diced potato (my favorite pasties have had finely diced potato), chopped skirt steak and wrapped it up in pastry.

Naturally, it smelled delicious, and we didn’t have a walk (which clearly has the virtue of giving the things time to cool) before eating them, so we all scalded our mouths a bit in the first few eager bites. If you’re in need of a lovely, simple dish for a frosty night, check out the GBVC’s recipe. You won't be sorry.


sognatrice said...

I just mentioned innards not being for me the other day on my blog...and I'm from central PA, and I *still* don't get Scrapple. Blech.

Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving :)

chris said...

Ahh, pasties. I having Northern Michigan school cafeteria flashbacks. I'm probably the only person I know who went to a school with excellent food--of course, my mom was a terrible cook.

Hope thanksgiving went well!

Meg said...

Sognatrice- do you ever feel like you SHOULD like scrapple? It's deeply regional, and a bit unusual and I have this nagging feeling I'm supposed to. And then I think: but it looks like bad dog food, and tastes awful.

Chris: Pasties? At school? That's a good cafeteria. UP or just northern?