It's not news to anyone who knows me: I'm crazy about the science of preserving. I've been studying it for half my life! When I teach a Canning Boot Camp, I love to include snippets of preserving history. I just had to share one of these fascinating pieces today!
I've always been mesmerized by the "Cornish Pasty" - sort of like today's "Hot Pocket" frozen food. During the Middle Ages, women would bake half-moons of dough filled with pieces of beef, bacon, fish, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and other vegetables. Sometimes a little sweet jam or fruit was baked in one corner of the pocket for dessert! Pasties were easily transportable for workers, and they preserved the fillings until workers broke for lunch.
My favorite version of a pasty, however, is the kalakukko from Finland. "Kala" is Finnish for "fish", and "kukkaro" means purse. Rye in the dough makes this huge pasty quite dark colored. Baked at a low temperature for several hours, the fish bones inside the kalakukko actually melt, adding to the flavor and moistness of the filling.
The coolest version of kalakukko had a wicker handle baked into its side. With no fast food or buffets to enjoy after church, families would carry a family-sized kalakukko to church and hang it on a tree outside. After church, families would picnic together before journeying the long way home!