Archive for September 15th, 2009

September 15, 2009

Stargazy pie – Cornwall’s “sole” food

Stargazy pie

IF YOU THOUGHT THE Scots had long since cornered the market on peculiar British dishes with their haggis – although the English with their infamous spotted dick are catching up fast – then you clearly haven’t ever been to Cornwall.

Stargazy pie originated in the Cornish town of Mousehole (pronounced “mowzel”) near Penzance on the Channel coast and is traditionally eaten at the festival of Tom Bawcock’s Eve on December 23. It is an egg and bacon pie made with pilchards and up to five other kinds of fish covered over with a pastry crust. The fish are inserted into the raw dough and then baked with their tails toward the middle of the pie while their heads poke upwards as if they were gazing at the stars.

I first read about this delicacy long ago in a children’s book called The Mousehole Cat by Antonia Barber, which relates an ancient story that may have its origins in a pagan winter solstice tradition…