In Search of the Wild Parstie

The true, Wild Parstie is found only within the Ancient bounds of Cornwall. It shares the countryside with an even rarer beast, the Oggy. The Parstie is a communal creature, found in burrows on cliff tops, usually near old or disused tin workings. It is possible it came to these shores with visiting Phoenicians looking for something in which to put their sardines.

The animal can become something of a pest because of it’s delight in digging up carrots. These are mostly eaten or, like the squirrel, re-buried elsewhere to be forgotten. It is said only the Carrot Fly can equal the Parstie when it comes to sniffing out hidden roots. Unlike the fly this nocturnal animal is a great delicacy and in the open season great numbers are trapped. Usually with the aid of juicy carrots.

Methods of cooking are closely guarded secrets, though some would say they have the knack! It is upto a true born Cornishman to give the cook the all clear. As mentioned earlier there is also the Oggy. This is a solitary beast. So rare in fact very few have seen it let alone tasted it. Whereas the Parstie could be called carnivorous, the Oggy has more of an omnivorous nature.

In fact there is a dispute as to where it came from. Some say Marco Polo brought it to Italy from Cathay along with edible boot laces! Whether we owe it to Marco or not I will leave it to you, but the aroma of a lightly roasted Oggy eaten at the bottom of a Cornish Tin Mine shaft, is something few will fail to forget. Always assuming one can find both an Oggy and a safe mine shaft!

The strange war cry - oggie, oggie, oggie - heard in Welsh Valleys and around pit villages of Northern climes has nothing to do with Cornwall. Neither has the sub species often found in Dumnonia and other parts of Albion. Though a very distant cousin of these two delicacies, Haggii rotunda, is worth seeking out.

The marauding Picts and other non descript tribes hail the Haggii as their National dish. This is a load of palony as the animal was first known to nomadic shepherds of Ancient Persia. It came to these shores by way of William and his mates when they paddled over to play conquers with our lot. After a deal of trouble they herded it into Hadrian’s back yard. A few semi - wild specimens are seen in the Shambles now and again but be wary of imitations.

Those foolish enough to risk life and limb travelling North of so-called civilization, should look for the more lively members of the Haggii family, ‘The Balmoral Burper and Grampian Griper’. The condition of local peasantry is a firm guide to which species are found in the locality. Travellers are advised to carry a large stock of kaolin and morphine to ward off unwanted side effects.

An even rarer sub-specie is said to inhabit the banks of Ness. When disturbed it exudes an hallucinogenic liquid which makes it look larger and longer. This keeps would be predators at bay. The ‘strange spectacle on Loch Ness’ reported in the Inverness Courier by Alex Campbell on May 2nd 1933, is thought to have been such a sighting of Haggii rotunda ‘aquatica’.

Fortunately, those living in the South have only to contend with an annual loss of carrots and strange noises emanating from old tin mine shafts. Some say these are the ghostly voices of long lost miners. Locals however will recognise them as the calls of a love sick Oggy!

Joking aside, I understand the Cornish Oggy or Oggie was a great delicacy of tin miners. Do any of my readers have the recipe for this succulent and historic dish?