Special protection sought for pride of Forfar - the bridie

IT HAS been hailed as Scotland's answer to the world famous Cornish Pasty.

And a campaign has now been launched for the humble Forfar bridie to join its Cornish culinary cousin in being awarded the same level of special protection from the European Commission, which has also been granted to celebrated delicacies such as Roquefort cheese, Parma ham, and Melton Mowbray pies .

If successful, the Forfar bridie would become the second Angus delicacy to be awarded official Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status by the commission in just seven years. In 2004 the Arbroath smokie was granted permission to carry the commission's distinctive protected-product symbol to prevent fake smokies being produced anywhere else in Europe.

Angus Council confirmed yesterday that the authority is in the process of applying for special PGI status for the bridie, which is produced in a handful of bakeries in the town. A successful bid will mean that only bakers in the Forfar area of Angus would be allowed to carry the name "Forfar bridie" on their produce.

A spokeswoman for the council said the authority planned to have a draft application ready for submission this summer.

She said: "We are currently in discussions with the Food and Drink Division of the Scottish Government to ensure that our application for PGI status for the Forfar bridie meets all the correct criteria for a successful application.

"The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has recently given us useful advice regarding the content of the draft application.

"This is being developed to ensure that it covers all of the necessary points, including historical background, links with the local area, ingredients and exactly what makes the Forfar bridie unique."

The council's bid to battle for special protection for the birdie was welcomed yesterday by local bakers in the town. Karen Murray, whose family business James McLaren & Son has been baking bridies at Forfar since 1893, said: "I'm very proud of our bridies. It really annoys me to see bridies in other places being sold as Forfar bridies when they clearly aren't.

"After the PGI denomination they will only be allowed to be called bridies."

Eric Alton, the bakery manager at McLaren's, said that the origins of the local delicacy had been lost in the mists of time. One theory is that the horseshoe-shaped bridie was first made for wedding meals - "bride's meals" - in the Forfar area.Another story is that the bridie was first made by Margaret Bridie from nearby Glamis who sold the delicacy in the early 19th century at the Buttermarket in Forfar.

"There have been numerous stories about the origins of the bridie," said Mr Alton. "But as far as I'm concerned it certainly started in Forfar." The campaign for PGI status is being backed by the Good Soup Guide, Scotland's online tourist guide.

The Forfar Bridie is a flat, horseshoe-shaped pasty crimped by hand along the curved edge. It uses local Angus beef as the main ingredient in a golden pastry cover which is much lighter and richer than other pasties. Gravy and seasoning are the only other ingredients