Devonport Pasty debate heats up

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By TrubblnStrife | Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 11:15

A DEBATE is heating up in Devonport over what is – or isn't – a Devonport Pasty. The Royal Dockyard has a long and proud association with the noble pasty, and to this day local bakers produce their own versions of this local favourite. But recently, SW high street baker Warrens has been promoting its own 'Devonport Pasty'. It looks, smells and tastes like a Cornish pasty, so what's behind the name?

Here at Devonport People we were intrigued, but try as we might, the Devonport connection eluded us, so we dropped into a local branch of Warrens and asked the nice lady behind the counter. 'We can't call it a Cornish pasty,' she told us, 'and we already do a another small pasty, but without swede, so it had to have another name.'

Now, since the pasty in question conforms to all the statutory requirements of a Cornish pasty (ingredients, shape, colour of pastry, etc.) the only area where we thought it might be falling down would be its place of origin. Under European law, the Cornish pasty enjoys Protected Geographical Indication, which means that unless a pasty is prepared in Cornwall (it can be baked elsewhere) it can't be called a Cornish pasty. But no, the Warrens Devonport Pasty is made at their factory in St Just in Cornwall, and so is perfectly entitled to be known as a Cornish pasty. Just like gravy, the plot was thickening...

So why 'Devonport Pasty'? We had to take this further.

A spokesperson at Warrens head office enlightened us. In a Warrens Devonport Pasty, the filling ingredients (beef, potato, swede, onion and seasoning) are mixed together, rather than layered, as in the traditional Cornish pasty. She thought the 'Devon' part of the name had been chosen to 'make it a little bit different', but wasn't sure why it was specificaly named after the Royal Dockyard. Perhaps Devonport's proximity to the Tamar suggests a pasty resembling one from across the river?

Now, obviously Warrens couldn't have called their new product a Devon pasty, since – as any true Devonian will tell you – a Devon pasty is crimped on the top, and the Devonport Pasty bears the telltale Cornish side crimp. But if a pasty has to be made in Cornwall to be a Cornish pasty, surely a Devonport pasty should be made in Devonport?

'Definitely!' says Jackie Jones of Ron Dewdney's bakery. Based opposite the Dockyard gates, Dewdney's has been handmaking pasties for over 60 years, and in 2009 their 'handheld masterpieces' won two Golds in the Taste of the West Awards. So, I asked Jackie, surely theirs are the real Devonport Pasties? 'Of course they are!' she agreed. And Ron Dewdney Director Katrina Hanmer told us of her surprise when she saw the Warrens sign: 'I saw it and I thought – the cheeky little monkeys!'

So what do you think? Is the Warrens pasty a compliment to Devonport, or an affront to local pasty makers? And how does it compare to the real thing? Let us know!

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