It might be quite easy for other people in Britain to be dismissive of the proposed 20% VAT to be levied on pasties and hot pies. This patronising video from CNN sums up how little a ripple it’ll make in our nation’s capital, “..the sort of food that keeps a lot of us going in the less wealthy parts of the country”, says CNN’s Becky Anderson.
In my local town, in the heart of Cornwall, there are at least 6 bakery shops who make their own pasties and 2 or 3 butchers that also make and sell hot pasties. The queues that form can often run out of the door and onto the street of a lunch time.
Munching a hot pasty out of a paper bag is the lunch hour preferred activity over pealing cellophane off plastic sandwich cartons or washing plates. Cornwall goes to work on pasties: the weekday lunch fuel for labourers, office workers and shoppers. It’s also the weekend quick fix meal staple for mothers with hungry kids.
OK, so it was an April’s Fool spoof, still I’m thrilled by the mere suggestion that the pasty really might be the Olympic superfood for our cycling team.
A proper pasty, made in Cornwall, is so good and so special that only last year it was given European protected status and the Eden Project (in the neighbouring parish) has just held the 1st World Pasty Championships.
Here, eating pasties is not an option in the ‘what do I fancy for lunch today?’ kind of way. Cornish children are raised on them, tin miners survived in long gruelling hours down the mines on them, tourists have to eat at least one when they come to visit.
My husband once boasted he could run a ‘4 minute pasty’. That’s basically all the time it takes him to run from our house to buy the hot pasty and get it home to eat. I can’t help wondering what other people in other parts of the country have to eat at lunchtime?
Add 20% VAT and the humble pasty will become ‘treat’ or ‘indulgence’ food (like every other take-away) rather than a staple, wholesome, fortifying and comforting delight. Sandwich makers must be rubbing their hands in glee.
It wasn’t very long ago that I could buy a large steak for less than a £1 (perhaps that’s my age talking), a year or so ago they were less than £2 but with the rise in wheat prices bread and pasties have seen an unnatural hike. Add VAT and the £3 pasty will put it beyond the pocket of the average Cornish man or woman in the street especially the likes of me with a family of five to feed.
Hot pasties will soon stop being street food. We’ll either buy them frozen from supermarkets or cold from bakeries to heat up at home. They’ll pop up in restaurants as a regional oddity with chips and salad garnish sides and people – who know no better – will smoother them in tomato ketchup or worse!
It’ll be a sad day if the Conservatives levy tax on pasties . About as devastating to the Cornish economy as the day in 1998 they closed the last tin mine in Cornwall and ended 4,000 years of mining.
Making, selling and eating hot pasties is not an option if you live in Cornwall. It’s an institution.
Kernow King is organising a #Pastytax march on April 29th in Falmouth. Come and join.
- Cameron caught out on pasty eating fib (liberalconspiracy.org)
- Cornish MPs could form alliance to stop ‘pasty tax’ (guardian.co.uk)
- I’m saying no to the “pasty tax” (mynotsofictionallife.wordpress.com)
- Dan Rogerson MP writes… The crusade to protect the Cornish Pasty (libdemvoice.org)
- Campaign launched over ‘pasty tax’ (independent.co.uk)
- ‘Pasty tax’ get the go-ahead (express.co.uk)