Monday, 19 January 2015

Bubble 'n' Squeak

My Bubble 'n' Squeak didn't really bubble much yesterday but it did squeak. It was singing too... singing and sizzling away in the pan, a joyous mash-up of leftover potato and of course greens. Sometimes that's cabbage but this time the potato sung its squeaky chorus with sprouts and onion, seasoned with plenty of pepper and a dollop of Colman's mustard.

I love a bit of Bubble 'n' Squeak and apparently, so did George IV, the Prince of Wales.


Oops, wrong pic.

This is the real George IV:


In his day, it wasn't made with potato at all, but was a mixture of leftover beef or pork and veg although it's believed that the meat-free version with mashed potatoes that we think of now became the norm around the time of WWII.   Bubble 'n' Squeak even gets a mention in Byron's Don Juan and is gently ridiculed by 'Mary Midnight' (the alter-ego of a satirical writer called Christopher Smart) in a publication called The Mid-Wife, or Old Woman's Magazine, from 1753:

'Take of Beef, Mutton, or Lamb, or Veal, or any other Meat, two Pounds and an half, or any other Quantity; let it lay in Salt, till the saline Particles have lock’d up all the Juices of the Animal, and render’d the Fibres too hard to be digested; then boil it over a Turf or Peat Fire, in a Brass Kettle cover’d with a Copper Lid, till it is much done. Then take Cabbage (that which is most windy, and capable of producing the greatest Report) and boil it in a Bell-Metal Pot till it is done enough, or if you think proper, till it is done too much. Then slice the Beef, and souse that and the Cabbage both in a Frying-Pan together, and let it bubble and squeak over a Charcoal Fire, for half an Hour, three Minutes, and two Seconds. Then eat a Quantum sufficit, or two Pounds and a half, and after it drink sixteen Pints of fat Ale, smoak, sleep, snoar, belch, and forget your Book.'

Very Blackadder...

Of course I don't really know all this stuff, I just had to research it, unable to resist the yearning to satisfy some pointless curiosity about the history of such an endearingly named, typically English, dish. Next time... Spotted Dick and custard?

(Sort of defeats the object)


Nat Kendrick & The Swans: (Do The) Mashed Potatoes
with James Brown

19 comments:

  1. Do you know, I've never eaten bubble'n'squeak. You would've thought, as a long term non-meateater, it would've been a good quick meal to have on the menu, but for some reason it's never happened. I've often eaten home-fries in diners while in the States - delicious and not totally dissimilar. Frozen bubble'n'squeak must be right up there with the frozen jacket potato in terms of pointlessness!
    We do create an occasional dish known in this house as 'fridge-scrapings slurry', which might sound revolting, but is made up of all the odd leftovers in various plastic tubs in the fridge and freezer (chilli, baked beans, curry, bolognese etc) and generally tastes amazing, though getting the same blend twice is quite a challenge!
    Coincidentally, I only heard this Nat Kendrick/James Brown tune a few days ago when Nick Hornby played it on Radio 4 - brilliant.

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    1. I can't recommend it highly enough.
      Your 'fridge-scrapings slurry' sounds as if it *could* be very tasty, if only it didn't have that name. Scrapings... slurry... ? I can't help but think of that bucket we used to have scrape our waste into at school, which was reputedly passed on to a local pig farm. With the right PR and branding I could be sold on yours, but a more palatable sounding moniker is needed first!

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  2. Mmmmmmm! Sounds yummy. Is everything mixed in together, C? I love smashed potatoes.

    I think the song posted above was a Mod fave and it has me bouncing around in my seat.

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    Replies
    1. It IS yummy, Marie! Yes, you mix/mash it all up together and then flatten out and fry both sides, making sure it goes a nice crispy golden brown.

      It's a foot-stomping song alright, isn't it? I knew you would be familiar with it :-)

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    2. Thanks, C. That takes care of tomorrow night's dinner!

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    3. Just in case you haven't checked, there are songs posted now.

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  3. Love a bit of Bubble and Squeak myself. Mr. Bear made a particularly nice one only the other day. Thanks for the info, C. I really enjoyed Smart's (or 'Mary MIdnight') description.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Good to know you're a B'n'S fan too. I love the dry wit in the 'Mary Midnight' 1753 spoof recipe, just goes to show that humour hasn't changed all that much (even if B'n'S has).

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  4. You can buy premade Bubble and Squeak! Baffled... utterly baffled!....

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  5. Used to be a favourite when I was young. Later when married I saw ready made frozen in Iceland in the 70's I just had to buy to show Old Ma. It was a dissapointment but I have made it since in all its glory....have you tried Stovies...now we are really talking!

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    1. I'm not surprised the frozen one was a disappointment, it has to be fresh off the pan for most mouth-watering effect, doesn't it?
      Stovies...no idea what that is...I take it a traditional Scottish dish? Please do tell more!

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  6. This is one of those dishes that I hear mentioned often but have no idea what it is...well, I have a better idea now.

    If you can put Coleman's Mustard on it...it can't be bad.

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    1. Then you'd like it, I'm sure and I look forward to hearing that you've tried it one day! I mix the mustard into the mashed potato, it gives a delicate tang. Lots of salt and pepper too. Some people add cheese. Some include other cooked and leftover veg, like carrots. It can be whatever you want it to be. Just make sure it squeaks!

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  7. Next time you're in Westminster, you must check out the Regency Caff. Situated off Dean's Yard it serves the best 'Babble' (as it's pronounced in there) this side of anywhere. Also, the cover of Ken Livingstone's memoir has a photo of him taken at the aforementioned spoon.

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    Replies
    1. Now, there's a good reason to ever find myself in Westminster! Thanks for the tip-off.

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  8. I'm always up for some fridge scrapings slurry.
    Swiss Adam

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    Replies
    1. I still can't get past the name...

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