I thought carefully about appropriate food for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Every blog I’ve read and every magazine I’ve picked up has been full of red white and blue food. The best of these used strawberries and blueberries, the worst used a variety of chemical colourings to obliterate any goodness but they all, without fail, looked extremely patriotic.
I’ve seen incredible edible portraits of the Queen and beautifully crafted cakes and pastries all perfect for sharing at a street party. I have also seen several variations on the cucumber sandwich which surely defeats the object of its tasteful simplicity.
I’ve smiled at witty rebrands (Ma’amite stands out) and classy tributes from those suppliers who already operate “by appointment to the Queen”. I have been rendered speechless with rage at the idea of French Champagne (which I refuse to name) being marketed in a Union Flag jacket. Surely this, of all weekends, is a time for British sparkling wines.
I thought of baking a cake or of arranging red, white and blue cheeses into a Union Flag design but it had all been done before. In the end – hangs head in shame – I didn’t make anything – instead I went out to play and enjoyed the celebrations.
In the village where I live a Victorian fair is held every year on the Spring Bank Holiday. This comprises of a range of market stalls manned by people in Victorian costume selling bric-a-brac, plants and other bits and pieces in order to raise funds for various local charities and community groups. The fair is heralded by a visit from The Giant Bolster and his drummers and the sound track to the day is provided by the Silver band and local choirs. As the afternoon progresses the music becomes amplified and the tea is swapped for local ales and the party atmosphere steps up a gear.
This year, as the fair coincided with the jubilee celebrations, it was bigger than ever and, as the sun shone all day, people turned out in droves to support it.
In terms of food there were BBQs, the inevitable and absolutely necessary WI tea and cakes and of course, this being Cornwall, there were pasties.
OK – I hold my hands up – I have written about pasties before on this blog but these pasties are something that should be talked about, written about and generally shouted about from rooftops. These pasties are made by the men of the village under controlled conditions (in the local pub!) and then judged by those who know. But the most important thing about these pasties is that, after the judging, they are auctioned to raise money for Cornwall Rowing Association for the Blind (CRABs).
Now I’ve had good pasties and bad pasties, I’ve had sweet pasties and savoury pasties but I have never, I repeat never, paid £400 for a pasty – which is exactly what happened at this year’s Victorian Fair. In fact the 20 pasties auctioned raised £2009 – an average of over £100 each.
What’s so special about these pasties? Is there gold dust in the pastry? Or truffles in the gravy? No. What makes these pasties so special is the kind and generous people who buy them. That’s what community means to me – people pulling together to entertain themselves, support each other and spread a little generosity and cheer.
You’re probably wondering if I bought a pasty myself. Well all I can say is that I was part of a consortium who clubbed together to buy the magnificent pasty in the photo for £275. This wonderful specimen was baked by my good friend Toby and my share entitled me to a single bite.
So, whatever you ate this Jubilee weekend, whether it was red, white and blue or mid-brown, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed the mayhem and hilarity of a Cornish pasty auction and that single taste of community at its best.