Seaside fare

Cornish pasty and chips, it must be nearly the ultimate in excess. Brought up to believe that a pasty was a complete meal in itself, with meat, potato, and vegetables,  a voice echoes down the years suggesting that there is no need whatsoever to have chips along with a pasty. Of course, the voice is right, it was an entirely unnecessary indulgence and a pasty in itself would have been quite sufficient sustenance, but with liberal sprinkling of vinegar and shaking of salt, the chips were a delight. And what is the point of going to the seaside if there is no excess?

Trips to the seaside were always a time when normal rules were suspended. In High Ham, the annual outing to Weymouth in Dorset was always an occasion for much eating. There would be sandwiches at lunchtime, so as to be able to spend as much time on the beach as possible, but in the afternoon there might be the opportunity of ice creams or candy floss, and come teatime there would be a meal in one of the town’s cafes. Usually, it was fish and chips and peas with bread and butter along with cups of tea. On the journey home, the bus would stop in Dorchester, some would take the chance of a quick half-pint in a pub, and for those of us too young for beer, there would be bags of crisps. The seaside was about enjoyment and enjoyment meant lots of food.

It might be the abiding influence of those village outings, which for some people were the only time in the year when they saw the sea, but trips to the seaside have always seemed an opportunity to engage all five of the senses. The sights and sounds, the smells and the feelings, join with taste in providing a day of sensory experiences. To go to the seaside and not to eat would seem to miss out on an important aspect of the trip.

Should there be an inclination to think that seaside fare is not a major attraction for visitors, then walk down a promenade, or through the streets of a seaside town, and observe just how many places there are offering edibles of varying degrees of healthiness.  Among the abundant choice of sweets, the sticks of seaside rock, the numerous choices of fudge, the many varieties of ice cream, and the wide selection of other confectionery, a Cornish pasty with chips is a concession to healthy eating.

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