Having not lived through the 70’s, in Britain or otherwise, I was, until very recently, unaware of the gastronomic showpiece that is the Cheese and Pineapple Hedgehog.
It came up during a discussion about Eurovision – another WTF cultural phenomenon – when someone advised the Cheese and Pineapple Hedgehog was the ultimate in Eurovision party food. Apparently it was THE THING in the 70’s. (Reminds me of Bridget Jones’ mother who believes a gherkin on a toothpick is still the height of sophistication.)
So when I was asked to attend an afternoon party at this Eurovision-loving individual’s house, there was one thing for it: the hedgehog.
Now, I love an appetizer as much as the next person. Probably more than the next person, honestly. These, these and this being among my all-time favourites. This time, however, I went for something slightly more downmarket, though certainly no less festive.
What can I say? Its irreverence and spiky irony are truly irresistable.
I started by wrapping in foil a carved-out quarter of a small watermelon, ends chopped off so it would stand upright. I used an extra mature cheddar (because that’s what I buy) and tinned chopped pineapple. The cheddar was a little crumbly and broke apart a bit when stabbed. Perhaps a waxier, milder cheddar would work better. The tinned pineapple was ideal. Frankly, I’m sure I would have felt very exhausted and bitter if I’d had to have hacked up a pineapple prior to the obscenely time consuming process of stabbing and sticking my miniature beast.
To finish, a pair of menacing red glacé cherries brought the spiky creature to life. Why deviate from the traditional 70’s design? I’ve come this far.
Then it came time to transporting the thing. On my travels I was stopped by a man who I can only describe as the world’s biggest cheese and pineapple hedgehog fan. He was completely sincere and actually a bit jealous. He even asked if he could photograph it. Obviously I was very happy to oblige. (Always nice when someone appreciates my cooking.)
Having made it to the event, hedgehog delicately balanced on my lap across a 30 minute train journey, you’ll never guess what I found. To my delight and surprise, I wasn’t the only one who thought one of these babies was a good idea. If you ever needed a group noun for hedgehogs, know that it is a prickle. (Other options include array, or nest. But come on – no way I am passing on prickle.) A prickle of hedgehogs.
So, would I make it again? No. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Though I enjoy more the fact that we’ve collectively moved on to slightly more sophisticated fare since its invention. Having said that, who knows – maybe we’ll look back on the spiced cheddar cheesecake in 50 years’ time and think that was hysterical.