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The Cornish presence in this remote spot goes back to the days when Cornwall was known (as Poldark reminded us) for copper and tin mines, and Cornishmen were famed as the most skilful hard-mineral miners in the world.They also suffered – again as per Poldark – from chronic insecurity.A plaque at the Dolores mine in Real del Monte states that the first-ever game of football in Mexico was played there in 1900, and there's a great old photo of a rough-and-tumble game outside the mine, but it seems the first proper matches were played at the Pachuca Athletic Club, another Cornish creation.Either way, Mexicans joined in, and the game very rapidly took off.There was a gap between the dwindling of the Cornish community in the 1920s and the appearance of pasty shops decades later, paralleling the decline in the local mines.Don Ciro Peralta, whose Pastes El Portal on Real's main square – adorned with a fabulous mix of Cornish and Union flags, bright papel picado banners, Cornish harbour scenes and other accoutrements – is one of the town's best, still worked as a miner for years after beginning his family pasty business in 1975.The oldest gravestone dates from 1834, and around it are 750 more.

The Cornish brought other things to Mexico, such as Methodism and, most far-reaching of all, football.They also set up their own enterprises, none more so than Frank (or Don Francisco) Rule, the "Silver King" of Pachuca, who arrived in 1853, aged 17.Specialising in rediscovering old abandoned mines, he became immensely rich, and left a permanent mark on Pachuca.Locally, though, the most treasured legacy is the pasty.A string of paste shops, from holes-in-the-wall to glossy drive-throughs, lines the highway into Pachuca from Mexico City.

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