A traditional Cornish pasty is miners' food - a hand pie filled with beef, potatoes and onions, with a crust that could be used as a handle. (Most are similar in shape to an empanada.) Even the modern versions found at British chain pasty shops, which may have a lighter, flakier crust, still hew toward no-nonsense ingredients inside: steak and ale, cheese and onion, lamb and minty peas.
That's why the results of this weekend's World Pasty Championships in Cornwall, England, came as a double shock. After judges rated more than 200 entries in professional, amateur and junior categories, the winner of the prestigious Open Savoury Company category was Vienna, Virginia's Pure Pasty Co.
Not only was this the first time Americans have taken top honors at the seven-year-old international competition, but their prize entry contained barbecue chicken, sweet potato, zucchini, red pepper, sweet corn and, most improbably, pineapple.
"If you thought a great Cornish pasty was filled with meat, potatoes and other vegs in a crimped pastry, you'd be seriously mistaken, it appears," sniffed the Daily Mail.
"Pasty containing pineapple voted among best in the world," was the incredulous headline in the Daily Telegraph, which called pineapple "among the most controversial and divisive ingredients chefs can add." It went on to report that the runner-up was a "vegan yellow Thai pasty" from a bakery in Cornwall before reminding presumably flummoxed readers that, "in previous years the category has been dominated by traditional British entries."
Then again, Mike Burgess, the English-born owner of the Pure Pasty Co. (128-C Church St. NW, Vienna), specializes in the nontraditional. "We can't go over there and do an English/British dish," he told The Post's Becky Krystal last year, before Pure Pasty entered for the first time. Its 2017 entry into the Open Savoury Company category was a riff on a reuben, with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, potatoes and caraway, and the shop's menu regularly features pasties inspired by Moroccan lamb or chicken tikki masala ($8-$9).