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Game and Offal

There is well-attested record of hedgehog (or 'hotchewitchi' or 'otchie'; see 'horse') being a Romany favourite. The beast is packed in clay to be baked on an open fire so that the hardened clay can be broken away along with the spines and skin to reveal a meat reminiscent of pork.

An typical English wild hedgehog,
as depicted by Beatrix Potter in 'The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle'

'Romano Lavo-Lil or Word-Book of The Romany or, English Gypsy Language, With Specimens of Gypsy Poetry, and An Account of Certain Gypsyries or Places Inhabited By Them, and of Various Things Relating to Gypsy Life In England', by George Borrow of 1855(?) has; "The mode of life of these people may be briefly described. ... After breakfast the men sit down to chin the cost, to mend chairs or make baskets; the women go forth to hok and dukker, and the children to beg, or to go with the donkeys to lanes and commons to watch them, whilst they try to fill their poor bellies with grass and thistles. These children sometimes bring home hotchiwitches, or hedgehogs, the flesh of which is very sweet and tender, and which their mothers are adepts at cooking."

'Gipsy Life' by George Smith (1880) has; "...the old Gipsy mother-in-law, with one foot in the grave, not far from Mary’s Place, near the Potteries, Notting Hill, was trying to make me believe what a choice dish there was in store for me if I would allow her to cook me a hedgehog. She said I should “find it nicer than the finest rabbit or pheasant I had ever tasted.” "

In 1981, Hedgehog Foods Ltd began to produce 'Hedgehog flavoured crisps'. The snacks did not contain any hedgehog, but were flavoured with pork fat, allegedly on the basis of interviews with gypsies. After some kerfuffle involving the Office of Fair Trading, the labeling was changed to "Hedgehog®. Flavoured Crisps".


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