April 14, 2012

"The other day I gave her mash and fishfingers for dinner — something quite boring — and her response was 'That’s impressive,' so she has a sense of humor, too."

An English dad describes the experience of living with a 4-year-old genius. 

ADDED: Confession: I had to Google to make sure "mash" referred to potatoes. The process of doing blog tags confronted me with the part of my brain — of whatever size IQ, I don't know — that has been dealing with English food. Long ago, "mash" got mushed with "mushy peas," and I'd never had the push to straighten that out until just now. But, thanks to Wikipedia, I've set my head straight. "Mash" is just mashed potatoes. And "bangers and mash" — which sounds dirty — is just sausages and mashed potatoes, which I think are "impressive."
The term "bangers" is attributed to the fact that sausages, particularly the kind made during World War II under rationing, were made with water so they were more likely to explode under high heat if not cooked carefully; modern sausages do not have this attribute.
Wikipedia kindly includes some pop culture references, including Peter Sellers singing to Sophia Loren, about how he's unsatisfied with her "macaroni" and would like her to "give us a bash at the bangers and mash me mother used to make," which you can listen to on one of those YouTube videos where all you look at is the record spinning. Sellers and Loren do their best to exclude any double entendre that those lyrics may seem to convey in writing.

There's also a Radiohead number called "Bangers + Mash," which has lyrics that begin "You bit me, bit me, bit me, ow," which is something Peter Sellers never sang to Sophia Loren.

Times change, which reminds me of my favorite "banger" song: "Lieutenant Custard & His Banger of Time," which involves a time-travel sausage. Please be careful with this!

24 comments:

rhhardin said...

I may be behind the times, but isn't IQ mental age divided by chronological age? So we're dealing with a mental 6 year old.

Imus used to say that he was 68 years old but read at the level of a 72 year old.

Mark O said...

I'm starting to worry about you.

edutcher said...

Nice to know she has a sense of humor; not sure Hawking does.

PS The only reference to "banger" I remember is a movie based on the title of a travel book, "If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium".

The hero is offered a sausage in an English B&B, with the heroine sitting across from him, as the waiter asks, "Banger?", drawing an incredulous, "I beg your pardon?", from the heroine.

(only real laugh in the flick, IIRC)

Hagar said...

Your local meat shop will be happy to sell you all the bangers you want.

Bob said...

I still have among my possessions a little booklet that the US Navy ship USS Nassau (LHA-4) prepared for a liberty visit to the UK in 1982 or so. It was called Port Visit: Portsmouth and gave some information about history, sightseeing, restaurants, etc. In the food and drink section was a primer on British beers, and the food section included several strangely-named dishes, including Bubble and Squeak, Toad-In-The-Hole, and Bangers and Mash, which you mentioned.

Palladian said...

How about slipping your impressive bangers into some steaming neeps & tatties?

Palladian said...

Bangers may be impressive, but how about having some faggots for lunch?

Ann Althouse said...

"Bangers may be impressive, but how about having some faggots for lunch?"

Ah! I had a link open for faggots, but I ended the post before getting to that.

"A faggot is traditionally made from pig's heart, liver and fatty belly meat or bacon minced together, with herbs added for flavouring and sometimes bread crumbs. The mixture is shaped in the hand into balls, wrapped round with caul fat (the omentum membrane from the pig's abdomen), and baked."

A chilling concoction! And yet... it sounds like something from the distant past... like what kept you from wasting away in the Middle Ages.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

In The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat's novel about a corvette in WWII, the executive officer, an incompetent asshole, puts bangers and mash on the menu of the officer's mess every day which he greets with a cheery "Bangers and mash! Good-oh!" Everyone applauds when he leaves the ship for health reasons, and the narrator gets his first promotion.

Palladian said...

A chilling concoction! And yet... it sounds like something from the distant past... like what kept you from wasting away in the Middle Ages.

It certainly is a concoction from the distant past, back when nothing was wasted. Good ones (not the horrid mass-produced frozen ones that are common in England, are delicious.

The funny thing is that a lot of the English foods that some people consider odd or frightening are produced with the same ingredients and descend from the same concepts as French food. Yet the French food is thought of as "sophisticated" and the English food "crude".

It's partially the fault of the World Wars, especially WWII, which acclimated the British to eating cheap, artificial, processed slop instead of their distinctive native cuisine (which was very highly regarded in the 18th and 19th centuries). But the basic ingredients of faggots, the pork heart, liver and belly, herbs, are the same ingredients used to make French pâtés, right down to wrapping the final product in caul fat before cooking.

Perhaps the problem is simply the names...

YoungHegelian said...

@Palladian,

In a small family deli/cafe in Tours, France, my wife made the mistake of ordering the andouillette, which turned out to be "chitlin' sausage". Seriously, it was pork intestines wrapped in pork intestines!

It looked really weird when cut, and no amount of sauce could disguise the funky taste. That dish was an acquired taste in any language!

And my great aunt, God rest her soul, always ordered tete de veau (calf's head) when she could find it on a menu.

Maybe having lived through WWII had made her appreciate what meat she could get.

Jess said...

Thus sayeth Palladian:

It's partially the fault of the World Wars, especially WWII, which acclimated the British to eating cheap, artificial, processed slop instead of their distinctive native cuisine (which was very highly regarded in the 18th and 19th centuries).


Among other things, this makes me wonder: is there any alternate-history SF set in a universe where the 20th century wars were averted?

SGT Ted said...

30 years of eating bangers and I fianlly know how they got the name.

SGT Ted said...

It was GIs experience with Brits civilian crappy WW2 rations that led to the 'Brits boil everything" meme. They had to boil their meat it was so low grade. They could get no spices or much of anything; everything was going to the soldiers.

When I went to GB back in the 80s the food was excellent. Sure, they have their cafeterias and fast food, but you couldn't go wrong eating in the pubs or restaurants. I had Pheasant under glass in London that was "wild raised"; I had to be careful for shot.

The Drill SGT said...

SGT Ted said...
When I went to GB back in the 80s the food was excellent. Sure, they have their cafeterias and fast food, but you couldn't go wrong eating in the pubs or restaurants.


The Colonel and I love English bar food. She OD's after a few days of "full English Breakfast, but I can love it through any length of stay thus far (a 40 day work stint is my record), though it likely took a year off my life.

Breakfast may begin with orange juice, cereals, stewed or fresh fruits but the heart of the Full breakfast is bacon and eggs. They are variously accompanied by sausages, grilled tomato, mushrooms, tea, toast and marmalade.

Each country in the UK and Ireland also have their own choice of accompaniments, it is up to the individual just how much they want on their plate and their preferences. You may find the following: •A Full English Breakfast may have Black Pudding, Baked Beans and Fried Bread.
•A Full Scottish, as above but may also have, Potato Scones (Tattie Scones), Haggis and Oatcakes.
•A Full Irish – Again, as above but may also have White Pudding and Soda Bread.
•A Full Welsh – Laver bread or laver cakes. These are neither bread or cakes but are made with seaweed, the cakes seaweed cooked with oatmeal.
•An Ulster Fry is not dissimilar to a Full English but may also have soda bread and is served again, throughout the day.

Chip Ahoy said...

I have a very thin book here recipes from Scotland. It is hearty fare.

Salmon. Step 1. Catch salmon, scale, gut, remove head, tail and fins.

Chicken. Step 1. Catch chicken, remove head, feathers, feet, gut.

Beef. Step 1. Kill a cow, drain of blood, remove hide, gut.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I love black pudding (blood sausages) for breakfast with soft fried eggs.

Also medium rare chicken livers and mushrooms sauteed in browned butter, with english style scrambled eggs. Soft and fluffy. Salty and satisfying.

None of which my husband can tolerate. Ah well. To each their own in taste.

cubanbob said...

The food in the UK can be wonderful provided it isn't British. I always believed part of the reason for The Empire was a desire to find decent food.

Unknown said...

Jess said...
[snip]
Among other things, this makes me wonder: is there any alternate-history SF set in a universe where the 20th century wars were averted?


"The Peshawar Lancers", S. M. Stirling, a rollicking good read BTW

Freeman Hunt said...

We had one of those four year old geniuses, but he turned five, so we don't have a four year old genius anymore. This is okay because we never told him that he was one in the first place.

The Drill SGT said...

Unknown said...
Jess said...
"The Peshawar Lancers", S. M. Stirling, a rollicking good read BTW


I loved two scenes best,

1. near the beginning:
Terrorists attack in an airport, and are swamped by the male passengers. The narrator says, (paraphrased) "The terrorists were swamped by a crowd wielding sword canes, walking sticks, fists and in one case a brass spittoon. What else could one expect when men of the martial clases saw innocents being attacked?"

2. near the end, paraphrased again, "the Afghans facing the charge ran and were run down, teaching again, a 3,000 year old lesson. "To run from a Lancer, is Death""

PS: "Butcher and Bolt"

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Jess said...

Among other things, this makes me wonder: is there any alternate-history SF set in a universe where the 20th century wars were averted?


Though it's not explicit, I always thought Terry Gilliam's Brazil was about a future without World War II in its past. The society is being strangled by a labyrinthine bureaucracy (like today), but the technology has languished in a kind of 1930's Bakelite backwater. Whatever horrors WWII inflicted on the human race, it also gave birth to the magical gizmos that make us all so productive.

Rusty said...

My neice is scary smart. By the time she had graduated from eighth grade she had taken all the math classes that the local high school could offer. She started taking college level math classes her freshman high school year.She is currently into some kind of geometry of multi dimensions or some such.
She got a full scholarship to Marquette.

SGT Ted said...

The food in the UK can be wonderful provided it isn't British. I always believed part of the reason for The Empire was a desire to find decent food.

Blasphemy! Steak and Kidney Pie is Ambrosia! Same with all the other meat pies.

mmmmmm. meat pies.