Day 265

Toad In the Hole

In honor of the Summer Games, I’m sampling a string of British foods. I thought I’d start with one with a wacky name. And there were plenty to choose from, as Bill Bryson explains in the 1994 article “In Praise of British Food”:

Well, first there is the  problem of the names. Even when it is quite delicious, British food often sounds frankly silly. Just consider the names of some classic British dishes:  bubble and squeak, toad in the hole, brown Windsor soup, gooseberry fool, bangers and  mash, flannel cakes, faggots in gravy. No one, as far as I can tell, has ever satisfactorily explained why the British insist on endowing their food with  such strange and arresting names, any more than anyone has explained why they give their towns names like Great Snoring and Chew Magna, or why they make  their judges wear little mops on their heads. It is just one of those oddly  British things that remains a mystery to foreigners.

I actually have a spotted dick on my desk (how many of you can say that?) but the can is way past its date and is strictly for decoration. Spotted dick, in culinary terms, is a steamed pudding dotted with dried fruit from Britain. In layman’s terms it’s something you should probably see a doctor about. But even without the freakish name and ancient expiration date, I still wouldn’t want to try it. Not my cup of tea.

So I settled on toad in the hole. (Why do so many English foods come with a side of sexual innuendo?) It’s sausages baked in a Yorkshire pudding-like batter that rises up and browns nicely. Kind of like a giant pigs-in-a-blanket slumber party. I used this recipe with this onion gravy. I know you’re going to ask why it’s called toad in the hole, but I really can’t help you. I don’t even think the Brits know. The most common story is that the sausages look like toads poking their heads out of a hole. The most entertaining explanation I found is that “toad” was originally “turd,” since folks made it with whatever leftover or undesirable meat was on hand.

The world may never know the truth. But I can tell you this: these hide-a-sausages are the mutt’s nuts. (Wikipedia tells me that’s the Redcoat version of “bee’s knees.” I hope they’re not just messing with me.)

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4 Comments to “Day 265”

  1. I love the premise of your blog. I’m not a really picky eater but I can see how some foods just make people go “ew.”

    Toad in the Hole, on the other hand, is yummy. I’ve never tried making it myself but now you’ve inspired me.

  2. And how about Star gazy pie?

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