As we were going to St. Ives…

…we didn’t actually meet a man with seven wives. However, we did encounter numerous fudge shops and purveyors of pasties.

We really enjoyed our day in this lovely seaside town, just about 20 minutes from Penzance by bus. It is absolutely a tourist haven, but for good reason. The setting is very dramatic, the streets and alleys are so so scenic, and the town by now has just caved in to the onslaught of visitors, who need to eat, drink and spend money.

There is also an “artistic” side to St. Ives, meaning that there are lots of artists’ studios and galleries, somewhat like Nantucket. The Tate has an outpost here, for which we got clear directions from the Tourist Office. They did, however, neglect to mention that it was closed for renovation till next year, but I suppose they thought we wanted to admire the building. Oh well, there was already an abundance of art on view.

And then there were the beaches and the sea. It was cool and blustery by our standards, but that did not deter the students of the surfboard or beach-goers in general. It was very nice just to watch.

The streets and cottages here just oozed charm. I have my eye on a few, for when the lottery money starts pouring in. The church was sweet, and the local entertainment looks inviting, even if they did slightly elaborate on the “Jersey Boys” name – lest someone misunderstand whose music would be heard.

And then we returned home to our lovely Penzance. Seems awfully quiet and tourist-free in comparison.

We do have to name-drop, though, since Don suddenly remembered that the world’s first supermodel, Jean Shrimpton, retired from her blockbuster career in 1979 and came to Penzance, married her partner and gave birth to her son, Thaddeus. He now runs the Abbey Hotel, which she owned and operated for many years. And it’s right down the road!! We are on high “Shrimp” alert.

Don’s Food Corner

When in Cornwall how can you not have pasties? So we did. With many shops to choose from (and how can so many pasties be consumed in one day?), we popped into a place that claims to have been voted for serving the BEST pasties in all of the West Country. It’s not like we haven’t had pasties before. We’ve had them in Bath and, curiously enough, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where pasty shops seem to line the roads, harkening to the rich Cornish heritage of that part of the U.S.  Another area where pasties are served in the U.S. is a small section of central Wisconsin.

Of course, the concept behind the pasty has nothing to do to with providing tourists with a food curiosity that they can carry around and eat while looking at the gift shop windows or for breaking off bits to through to the sea gulls. Instead, they were used to great efficiency as all-in-one lunch boxes for miners who couldn’t come up to ground level for lunch.

At today’s pasty shop there was a large array of different types of fillings in those distinctive crimped-edged pastry pockets. It is certain that many of these fillings would never have passed the lips of miners. Chicken tikka? Curry-spiced chickpea? All vegetarian? Pork and pineapple? Cheese and pickle? Cheeseburger pasty?  Philly steak pasty? I don’t think so. But the basic concept does reveal its adaptability.

Since we couldn’t taste everything, we went for the more conventional choices. In fact, one choice was “traditional.” The filling for this is a little bit of meat pieces (very little bit of meat) along with potatoes and rutabaga. It’s all cooked up as a type of stew and wrapped in the pastry and then baked. The other pasty we ordered was “steak and Stilton.”  This version was very similar to the traditional, but it did seem to have a little cheese thrown in.

Verdict? Filling and straightforward food designed to satisfy a a hearty hunger, fast.  The pastry was thick, but flaky. However, we are not going to make this meal of the Cornish mine worker part of our routine cuisine back home. We’ll stick to the peasant dishes of Italy and France.


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