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Shout “oggie oggie oggie!” for British Pie Week

Welsh oggie

It’s British Pie Week so why not celebrate with a traditional Welsh oggie?

Welsh oggies

Oggies, much like the Cornish pasty, are a D-shaped shortcrust pastry containing a rich, meaty filling.

You’ve heard of the Cornish pasty, but have you ever heard of the Welsh oggie? Historically a Welsh miners’ lunch, these controversial pastries are a taste of Welsh heritage.

Much like its English counterpart, the oggie is a savoury handheld pie with a buttery shortcrust and rich, meaty filling. Those in Cornwall say the word ‘oggie’ derives from the Cornish word ‘Hoggan’ referring to their signature pasty. They claim that the Welsh oggie came later and adopted the name, but references to the oggie can be found dating back as far as 1181, when St David’s Cathedral was being built.

Big pit national coal museum wales

Unable to wash their hands, miners at Big Pit in Torfean, South Wales, would have eaten the filling of their oggies and discarded the crust. ©Chris Sampson

Ariel Carson, a freelance photographer whose father was a chef says, “He had a few assignments for traditional home-cooked Celtic dishes including oggies. He had never cooked any Welsh dishes or even heard of oggies before. A few of his friends who were retired miners told him about the Oggies that they remembered and sampled his cooking.”

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to go to a Welsh rugby match and not hear the chanting of ‘Oggie oggie oggie!’ Made famous by Welsh comedian Max Boyce in the 1970’s when the chant found its way into rugby after climbing out of the mines. After finishing their lunch miners would through the dust soiled crust over their shoulder and cry ‘oggie’ to which the reply would come, ‘Oi!’

Principality stadium in cardiff

Cries of ‘oggie oggie oggie!’ are often heard at Welsh rugby matches at the Principality stadium in Cardiff. ©Dave Griffiths

“When he saw his friends guzzling the filling and then chucking the exterior pastry, my father almost had a heart attack. The former miners didn’t mean to upset him, when they used to eat the Oggies at work they had no access to water and couldn’t wash their hands before eating. The pastry had a lot of dirt from the mine transferred from handling and was not intended to be eaten,” says Ariel.

Substituting the beef and swede of a Cornish pasty for lamb and leeks, modern oggies are bursting with traditional Welsh flavours. There are even rumours that original oggies were made half sweet, half savoury, for the ultimate handheld meal.

“More modern day Oggies tend to be made of more expensive cuts of veal & mutton meat than the original low cost beef and served warm. From what I’ve seen the savoury Oggies have prevailed in recent times, its very rare to find the old mixed sweet and sour Oggies,” says Ariel.

Debate over which came first might still be hot but one thing is for certain- oggies are delicious!