Patrons & Pasties
With St George’s Day coming up on the 23rd (Shakespeare’s birthday too – big day!), I’ve been thinking about how to acknowledge it. I’ve never understood why the day isn’t celebrated as much as, say, St Patrick’s Day. George is not only the patron saint of England, but also of the scouts, the cavalry, archers, butchers, farmers and more. And, of course, there was that business with the dragon, which is what got my attention in the first place. Go George.
Anyway, the weather is properly autumnal now, lovely and cool and brisk. This weekend I made a massive beef casserole, which was delicious and hearty and kept the house and everyone in it warm. I got the recipe from The Really Useful Cookbook, which I reviewed last week, and am still enjoying reading. When all was done and eaten, there was still heaps left, so naturally my mind turned to a quintessentially English food; the Pasty.
Growing up, a Cornish Pasty from Coughlans bakery was my takeaway lunch of choice, and it never let me down. I’ve never tried to replicate it, and I don’t think I ever will, just as I would never go back to that bakery and order one. The memory is perfect, and I have no desire to test it in any way. Disappointment would be inevitable. Besides, those pasties belong to my childhood, they are the stuff of Saturday lunch, brought home after a visit to the library and the park or the shops and eaten with a squiggle of tomato sauce along the ridge.
What I made this weekend were by no means proper Cornish pasties. All I did was put some casserole in the middle of a circle of puff pastry, brush the pastry with egg, press together the seams and bake until they were golden. But the result was hot and tasty and good. I like to think St George might happily stop at his local bakery or pub for something similar. They’re perfect for lunch on an autumn day and, dare I say, not a bad choice for the patron saint on the go.