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Friday, July 30, 1999 Published at 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK


Cornish anger over pasty pasting

Biting back: Pasty makers say their industry could be hit

The owner of pasty shop in Cornwall has staged a ceremonial burning of the Stars and Stripes after an American food writer criticised the quality of Cornish pasties.

The BBC's Jane O'Brien: "The Cornish pasty has become the centre of an Anglo-American food war"
He had told readers of the New York Times, that Cornwall "probably offers more bad food per square mile than anywhere else in the civilised world".

As for the Cornish pasty, he had eaten them by the dozen and likened them to doorstops.

The basic problem, he said, was that they were bland.


"At least with a hamburger, you can disguise it with relish, but with a pasty, you've got this five pound football-shape thing sitting in your hand and there's nothing you can do with it."

[ image: Furious: Ann Muller]
Furious: Ann Muller
Ann Muller, who runs the award-wining Lizard Pasty Shop, said she had set fire to an American flag because the article represented an attack on the Cornish people and their way of life.

She told BBC News Online: "There are thousands of people who depend on the pasty industry and for him to describe them as doorsteps is irresponsible.

[ image:  ]
"We have got to defend it."

She admitted: "I am a little ashamed of burning the flag, but that is how Cornish people feel when the pasty is maligned.

"The flag is a symbol of the country and one of our symbols is the pasty and he should not have maligned something that is so special to us."

"I stand firm on what I said abut the pasties" - William Grimes and Ann Muller head to head
Mrs Muller's pasties, which contain beef, turnip and onions, have featured in gourmet magazines across the world, and she maintains that properly made pasties are delicious and good for energy.

[ image:  ]
However, Mr Grimes was not wholly condemnatory of Cornish food, praising the seafood and local cheeses, as well as the freshly dug potatoes and a perfect cream tea.

And he hopes the furore he has caused will lead to an improvement in the quality of pasties in Cornwall which he describes as "generally God awful".

"I'm hoping it will lead to a lot of soul searching, reflection and improvement in the pasty area," said the critic, who has visited Cornwall twice.

"I would love to find a good one. I'm willing to give it another try and a place has been recommended to me in Hayle."

'Positive impression'

Mr Grimes stressed his criticism did not extend to other features of Cornwall, just the pasties.

"I have a very positive impression of Cornwall in general, particularly the people" he said.

And he denied that his comments were going to affect the tourist trade.

"The awfulness of traditional British food has been known to the world for a couple of hundred years, and Britain has a thriving tourist industry," he said.

"I don't think people go to Cornwall for the pasties."

He added: "Not often do I inspire the burning of the American flag."

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