The last thing that I was expecting to find in Mexico was a Cornish Pastie. However, to my surprise, in the state of Hidalgo, far from the popular touristy towns and beaches well-known to foreigners, the pastie is a delicacy which the locals are very fond of. And they are proud of its British roots!
The mountains surrounding the city of Pachuca, Hidalgo are rich in minerals and mining was central to the local economy for centuries. As a result, small towns like Mineral del Monte flourished. Initially the Spanish exploited these natural resources, forcing the local population to work in horrendous conditions. Once all of the minerals near the surface had been mined, it was necessary to look abroad for the technology and know-how to go ever deeper.
In the 19th century, a British company from Cornwall in England invested in the mines in Hidalgo and a lot of Cornish miners travelled from England to work in Mexico. These miners brought their local food and customs with them.
As you may know, the Cornish pastie was a miner's staple food. The pastry kept food inside warm until it was ready to eat. The thick pastry seam acted as a handle for miners to hold onto while eating. Mining is dirty work so this allowed miners to eat with their hands without spoiling their food.
The Cornish miners continued their custom of taking pasties down the mines for lunch and it soon caught on among the local population.
Nowadays, the mining industry has all but dried up in this part of Mexico. However, those who live in the highlands of Hidalgo are still fiercely proud of their pasties. In local bakeries you can find the traditional Cornish pastie made from meat, potato, and onion, as well as a wide variety of pasties with more Mexican flavours, such as chile, beans, jalapeños, mole, and much more.
The town of Mineral del Monte was declared a Pueblo Mágico or Magic Town and is now a popular tourist destination among Mexicans, although it's largely unknown to foreigners still. Throughout the town you can see British and Cornish flags and more pastie shops than you can shake a stick at.