JOANNA’S TASTY MORSELS: Tidbits for Wandering Travelers to Cornwall

Posted by on Feb 5, 2014 in Blog, Cornwall | 1 comment

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Although the earliest evidence of humans in Cornwall dates to 30,000 B.C., the first mention of the name, Cornugallensis, was between 852 and 857 by the Bishop of Saint-Corentin at Quimper Cathedral—in Brittany, France. The ancient Cornwall-French connection derives from the fact that the same Celtic tribe, with the Latinized name Cornovii, meaning, horn, or headland, settled both sides of the English Channel. The two regions spoke a similar language, which became Cornish in England and Breton in France. With the Anglo-Saxon invasions from roughly 500 to 926, when they succeeded in conquering the Celts of England’s southwest peninsula, came the suffix wealas from the German walh, indicating a foreigner, especially a Celtic, or Cornish, speaker. Hence the names Walloon, Wales, walnut, Walsh, and Wallace. Hey, personal disclaimer: Wallace was my maiden name.

FAMOUS WRITER FACT: Virginia Woolf spent her early childhood summers in Cornwall, and although To the Lighthouse is set on a Hebridean island, the lighthouse that inspired the book was on Godevry Island, near the Hayle Estuary, not far from St. Ives.

Cornish pasty

Cornish pasty

TASTY PASTIES: Among the regional specialties our Wanderers will certainly want to sample are Cornish pasties. Though in these days of hybrid and hip cuisine, you may find pasties filled with just about anything, the originals were intended to be a meal-in-one for miners who carried them into the earth.

With vegetables on one end and jam on the other, and often mince and gristle in between, the miner’s initials might be baked into the crust as a handy i.d., while the crimped edges were meant to serve as a handle for dirty hands, and not supposed to be eaten.

Smuggling MuseumHONORABLE PROFESSIONS: There are many of these in Cornwall with ancient roots—fishing and mining come to mind—but smuggling? Indeed. It was such an integral part of life and the economy that there’s an actual Heritage Museum of Smuggling and Fishing in Polperro, not too far from Fowey—a Wanderland destination—on the southeast coast.

1 Comment

  1. I don’t think there’s much connection left between the two regions separated by the pond, but still,
    it intrigues me, and would like to find more beside what I found on google. Any suggestions?
    If we’re to have a lunch or dinner before we sail or fly to Europe, I volunteer to make us Cornish
    Pasties, a favorite dish of my family, where I enforced the ‘wash your hands! admonition, adding
    for good measure, And make sure you use WET water! So crust and all is eaten beside other
    goodies, not necessarily British ones.
    Please tell me if you want me to…

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