Monday, October 25, 2010

Eat a Grey, Save a Red

There must be a list of things that you just wouldn’t eat. In terms of “normal” food, I am not sure that I would want to eat frog’s legs, or snails, although other people have no qualms. I don’t like shell fish, although I confess my experience is based on pickled cockles and mussels (alive, alive, oh!) When it comes to the more outrageous stuff, I can’t imagine myself, for instance, eating any kind of bug – fried, boiled, baked or moving. I certainly can’t imagine myself eating someone. You know that you get these stories where the plane crashes in the mountains, miles from anywhere, deep snow in all directions and, since some folks died in the crash anyway, and you’ve ran out of pre-packed plane meals courtesy of “Cuisine al la Clouds”, the next step seems to be eat the dead people or die.

I came across something else I probably wouldn’t eat the other week. Rugby, a market town in Warwickshire, still manages to boast of an open air market. It has downsized over the decades to just a few select stalls. One of the stalls was a cake stall – delicious looking cupcakes at £1.25 a shot.


One stall was a pie stall. Melton Mowbray isn’t so far away, so pork pies featured heavily. There were other kinds of pies – pigeon pies, pheasant pies, beef and ale pies and such like. In the centre of the table were squirrel pies. They looked harmless enough, nothing to tell you that Peter Rabbit’s pal, Squirrel Nutkin was skinned and quartered, braised with vegetables and encased in pastry.

Grey squirrels are hardly on the brink of extinction – but pie filling? Is this a step too far? The stall holder didn’t think so. He didn’t confess to having eaten one, but he rattled off on his fingers the numbers of squirrel pies that he had sold each day at the market. He wasn’t swamped with orders, but there was sufficient demand from the squirrel eaters in Rugby to make it worth his while.

It was the advertising slogan that caught our attention – “Eat a Grey, Save a Red.”

A Lament for Squirrel Nutkin

Little Peter Rabbit had a very special friend
But poor old Squirrel Nutkin met a nasty sticky end
An enterprising baker with a greedy little eye
Murdered Squirrel Nutkin and put him in a pie


(Actually Squirrel Nutkin would be safe from pie making bakers on account that he is a red squirrel, not a grey one.)

1 comment:

Catrina Bradley... said...

We ate squirrel when I was little - I didn't think anything of it. You had to learn to look out for the buckshot, though. I didn't think anything of the cow tongue and rabbit either. I guess that's why I've never been scared try just about anything. :)