Fly Cemeteries

Fly Cemeteries

by Gloria Salavarria

I grew up with the motto “If you can’t beat ‘em; eat ‘em” ringing in my ears and so my family dined on the wild onions that popped up in our yard and the dandelions, and we ate the occasional squirrel or rabbit that got in our way, but there was one breed of critter we didn’t touch although it often bothered us to distraction and that was The Insect.

There was good reason for this – for one, you didn’t want to be out at night catching mosquitos for dinner. It just doesn’t warrant all the effort you have to put into it for what little you get.

Then there was the fly. A truly persistent fly can drive one to the point of insanity but once we succeed in smacking it, it’s remains are so thoroughly smashed that it doesn’t warrant getting a knife to scrape up what is left and pop it in the frying pan and so, I’ve never eaten flies – until my most recent trip to New Zealand.

At the Green Snapper Café in Colville, New Zealand, a town on the Coromandel Peninsula just north of where I am staying with my Kiwi sister Jocelyn Strongman and her husband Nigel, I learned that there is a dessert called “Fly Cemetery” – a pastry dish that has its origins in the British Isles in the 1800s. With a name (and ingredient) like that I just had to have one and so Jocelyn and I sat down to tea and got down to the business of eating flies.

Our hostess, Lorna, who with her husband Seamus Ebbs owns the Green Snapper, brought us each a plate with this delicacy on it and yep, you can see the remains of dead flies embedded in the dough.

Jocelyn and I picked up this delicacy and dabbed a bit of cream on it to go with our first bite.

I must say that it was quite tasty and so I took a second bite but not before examining the bodies embedded within the interior. Yep, you could see bluebottles and your common housefly all nicely mixed in there and marinated to the point where wings and legs were no longer distinguishable.

Fly cemeteries are made of a pastry dough rolled into two sheets with the flies being cooked separately with sugar, water, cornstarch and all spice.

The most common version of fly cemeteries is done by simply spreading the cooked flies on one layer of pastry and then putting the other layer on top but Lorna and her crew went for the extra touch which I really appreciated – they sprinkled some flies over the pastry dough and then rolled them into the dough.

I found this treat so tasty that I ordered another the next day at a different restaurant.

Before you ask me what flies taste like,
I’d say raisins and currants.
Bon appétit!

Fly 2

This is the real recipe for “Fly Cemeteries”…

For the Fruit Filling

2 cups raisins

1 cup currants (if you can’t get currants use 3 cups raisins, total)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 Tbsp. corn flour/cornstarch

1 tsp. allspice

For the Shortcrust Pastry

14 oz. self-rising flour

6 oz. butter

Pinch of salt

Cold water