Thursday, November 03, 2005

H is for Hedgehog

A small insectivorous animal, Erinaceus europaeus, found throughout W. and C. Europe. It is best known for a defense mechanism which consists of rolling up and exposing a spiny back to the world, a method which fails against the threat of road traffic. It is nocturnal in habit, and hibernates from October to April.

There are related species in other parts of Europe, and in Asia; but the porcupine, although similarly protected by spines, is an animal of a different genus.

Hedgehogs are not normally sold or hunted for food, except by gypsies, whose traditional method for dealing with them is to encase the animals in clay and roast them, after which the baked clay is broken off, taking the spines with it. The meat is said to be tender and well flavoured, resembling chicken or sucking pig...

The 'hedgehog pudding' which formerly enjoyed some popularity in England, notably in the 18th century but also in the 19th, was so called because of the slivered almonds which were stuck into its upper surface, where they resembled spines.
How did I already know it would taste like chicken?

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