It is generally believed that the pasty evolved for Cornish tin miners, who, unable to return to the surface at lunchtime had a hearty, easy to hold and eat, lunch dish. With their hands often dirty from a mornings work, the pasty could be held by the thick pastry crust without contaminating the contents. The thick crust also acted as an insulator, keeping the contents warm for several hours. Pasties were often also made with a meat filling at one end and a sweet filling of fruit or jam at the other - a complete meal in one!
While there are no set ingredients of the Cornish pasty, traditional recipes will always use minced or diced steak, onion and potato wrapped in shortcrust pastry. Variations include the addition of swede or carrots, even peas but a Cornishman will tell you these are not the genuine article. Pasties may no longer be the food of tin miners, but they are one of the nation's favorite snack or lunch foods. The pasty also makes a substantial supper dish when served with peas and gravy.