Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day Forty-Seven

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the Coronavirus crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored…..

Bubble and Squeak

This phrase still survives and is in common usage, but at the beginning of the nineteenth century it was defined as “beef and cabbage fried together”, which somehow has changed to potato and cabbage. The origins of the phrase are literal, the ingredients – well mainly the cabbage – bubble up and squeak as they’re cooked.

A ‘recipe’ from the 1890s said to “mash four potatoes, chop a plateful of cold greens, season with a small saltspoonful of salt and the same of pepper; mix well together and fry in dissolved dripping. Cut about three quarters of a pound of cold boiled beef into neat, thin slices. Fry slightly over a slow fire for six minutes, put the vegetables round the dish and the meat in the centre. Serve very hot”. Sounds bloody awful.

In the 1920s and 1930s the beef in the dish continued, but seemed to be replaced by sausages by the 1930s and 1940s. After the 1950s, it seemed to just become potato and cabbage, so who knows what it might become by the end of this century. Hopefully remove the cabbage and potato and just add a chicken bake.