Luncheons served with Cornish cuisine and history at Empire Mine | TheUnion.com

Luncheons served with Cornish cuisine and history at Empire Mine

Courtney Ferguson
Special to The Union

One of Nevada County's better-kept secrets could be the pasty (pronounced "pass-tee") Luncheons served outside Empire Mine's stately 1905 Clubhouse. It's an ideal venue, surrounded by the famous gardens and stately, shady trees.

"These luncheons offer a unique experience for all kinds of organizations and groups," said luncheon coordinator Jane Bland.

She and co-coordinator Troy Hammer have been hosting such weekday luncheons for the last seven years.

"Each year from May to September we welcome organizations such as Hospice of the Foothills, teachers, book clubs, car clubs, hiking and dog-walking groups, as well as tour buses," Bland said.

"Diners enjoy sitting in the same places where mining magnate William Bourn, Jr. entertained prominent guests from all over the world. Here's where deals were discussed that changed history," Hammer added.

Each lunch includes a traditional Cornish pasty, coleslaw, ice tea, lemonade, a cookie and a Klondike Bar — all served by volunteers dressed in traditional serving-staff attire. A special group tour of Empire Mine is also included.

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Bland has been visiting local thrift shops and purchasing china plates recently.

"While the plates may not match," she said, "they will add a little more tradition to these popular lunches."

It's entirely possible that the Cornish pasty is the world's first convenience food to feature an entire meal in one wrapping. According to a 2006 BBC article, author Les Merton, author of the Official Encyclopaedia of the Cornish Pasty, (English spelling) maintained that evidence of the Cornish pasty could be found in Cornwall cave drawings dating back to 8,000 B.C.

These primitive drawings depicted pasties wrapped in leaves with the edges crimped. The traditional pastry wrap was introduced later, probably in the early 1500s. The Cornish pasty, a favorite miner's meal, made its American debut in the 1840s.

Now, from May to September groups from 12 to 75 people can enjoy these Cornish Pasty Luncheons, as well as the history behind each serving. The cost is $15 per person, and those interested can phone the Visitor Center at Empire Mine State Historic Park on 530-273-8522 for further information.

Luncheons are presented by Empire Mine Park Association, the organization dedicated to maintaining and improving this treasured Park that welcomes around 100,000 visitors each year.

Further details are available at http://www.empiremine.org.

Courtney Ferguson is a freelance writer, as well as Empire Mine Park Association's Outreach Coordinator.

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