Richard Armitage, pasty king
There are other Richard Armitages. We all know about the politician, of course, and he shows up here regularly. But lately I keep getting this alert, a quotation from a Richard Armitage who is CFO of a company called Samworth Brothers, which has just purchased a different company called West Cornwall Pasty Co. It’s a fast food company that specializes in (surprise) pasties.
I assume most readers of this blog are familiar with the pasty already, but if not, this is what they look like:
Inside the crust one finds a cooked filling of beef, potato, and a root vegetable like a turnip or carrot, usually just with salt and pepper but lately, I’ve noticed, people are getting fancy and putting other herbs and seasonings in them. We in Wisconsin love pasties (pronounced with a short “a,” incidentally). They are particularly popular in the southeast corner of the state (you can buy them in the Memorial Union of the University of Wisconsin, right as you walk in the main entrance, for instance) and apparently in the northwest, but people like them even in areas of the state where no Cornish people ever lived.
Pasties migrated here in the 1830 and 40s with the Cornish miners, who left Cornwall due to the poor economy there and came here to mine lead and zinc and other things. The pasties we eat here are about the size of my hand, and I guess this was a good thing to eat in the mining tunnels. A lot of the miners moved on to the gold fields by the 1850s but many stayed, and there is a historical site in their memory at Pendarvis. Their descendants are still here, and you still see the distinctive names in the paper that start with Tre- and Pen-, although I guess there are no longer native speakers of the Cornish language here.
We also got our state animal from the Cornish miners. When they came, apparently they lived in tents in summer and in the winter they initially tunneled their way into the sides of the hills in that region of the state and were dubbed “badgers.” Lest you think this is a particularly pitiful story — not so much around here, but on the prairies just west of here, the first Europeans to settle permanently also tunneled into the sides of creek banks or cut up the sod and made houses out of it until they could build more permanent structures. People lived in these “soddies” into the twentieth century.
The seal adopted at statehood has many remaining signs of the Cornish in it — mining tools, lead ingots to symbolize mineral riches, the badger at the top, which is the symbol of the Cornish miners, and of course, the corner miner himself at right. I seem to remember learning in school that there’s some significance to the red shirt — did the Cornish typically wear red shirts? — but I’ve forgotten.
Well, that’s a rabbit trail for you. I wish this particular other Richard Armitage much fun with his supervision of the West Cornwall Pasty Co and I hope that he gets to eat a few.