Food – Some Interesting Origins

After talking with a fellow blogger some weeks ago about some stranger terminologies, or the why and there wherefores of why we do this or that it seemed only right to write something about some of the names and origins of food. This is from the English point of view and I think this is why it baffles many of our friends over the pond, so here goes.

spotted dick

Spotted Dick – This is always an amusing food which brings about a chuckle to even the most serious person. It’s a suet based pudding with raisins in it and usually served with custard (after an unhealthy dollop of syrup too I might add)  and unlike in this picture is meant to be shaped a bit like a marrow. But why spotted dick? The spotted is obviously the fruit, but the dick? Well the dick seems to be a 19th century corruption of pudding going to puddink, puddick and then dick. At the time there were all kinds of dick, like treacle dick and just plain dick – it simply means pudding.

Tea – This very English beverage was of course imported into Britain and was of course a reason for a great deal of problems with our friends over the pond a long while back. Thankfully that’s all over now. But the question of why Black tea is so popular here, comes probably from the face that Black tea will last a year, whereas other teas like the green tea popular in China will last about six months. So the black tea would survive the trip back on the clipper ship much better.

A small note for my US readers, I’m told that apparently the row the occurred over the Boston Tea party partially occurred because you guys couldn’t work out that you don’t make tea with sea water… So I’m told. This might be totally wrong!

Mincemeat – This is a favourite for the English at Christmas, usually coming in a sweet pastry pie. As with modern consumerism they’re coming out onto the shelves about now… so I’ll be sick of them by the time Christmas comes. Anyway, where does the meat come from?

The mincemeat used in our humble mine pie, wasn’t always a sweet dish, typically is was savoury because it contained… meat (specifically mutton and or beef), which was used as a filling in pies. As time went on the amount of meat was replaced with fruit,sugar and liquors such as brandy to make a sweet filling for pie or tart. The reasons why the meat was replaces is not clear, but it’s possible that the fruit content increased as it’s cost reduced.

Jaffa Cakes – This one’s for my friend Robyn, we both share a love for the Jaffa Cake and I’ve always wondered why Jaffa? What is Jaffa?


Well Jaffa, comes from the Jaffa orange (naturally) but Jaffa is the name of a city in Palestine where they were originally grown. So, the present to you the “a city in Palestine Cake”. Cool!

Fish and Chips – What’s unusual here? Sure, fish became more popular in the UK as fishing in the North Sea increased. But why Fish and chips on Friday?

It’s been a Roman Catholic tradition to avoid eating meat on a Friday, as well as during Lent. So, if you can’t eat meat – Fish it is! With a plate full of chips and smile on your face. We’ll just ignore the animal fat it was fried in. 😉

I hope you enjoyed this, any more suggestions and I can do another post on this.

I hope you don’t feel too hungry now!

Simon 🙂


15 thoughts on “Food – Some Interesting Origins

Add yours

  1. I grew up with that catholic tradition with fish. But now I think how ridiculous. Fish not considered to be meat? If is the flesh of a living, breathing creature, it IS meat !!! Anyway my gripe isn’t with you, it’s with that belief !!!

    Great post, can’t beat black tea 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think many of us grew up with it and we’re not sure why. But I believe it’s a more Irish tradition than anything else, so as you’re from Ireland, it kind of makes sense. Any kind of black tea? PG tips?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Barry’s tea is my favourite tea. I’m not sure if anyone has heard of it outside of Ireland? I like Lyons too but I think that’s Irish as well , I think PG tips is similar enough 🙂 Coffee is definitely the winner for me though. I only have one a day but boy do I make it last, my nespresso machine is my best friend. Lol 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My oldest was just asking me about what words are different in the Queen’s English than our own. One of my sisters lived in Scotland for five years and started saying things like, she left something in the boot, or she only was allowed one wheely bin. So I told him those, nappy instead of diaper, and fish and chips (instead of fries) 🙂


  3. Thank you so much for the mincemeat pies explanation! I have been tormented by this riddle since encountered them for the first time i.e. 10 years ago, when I moved from Poland to Ireland. I drove some of my Irish friends crazy by constantly asking where is meat in those pies.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not a huge fan of mince pies; maybe because I never had a homemade one.
    It’s impossible to compare Irl and Pol, they are so different. It’s would be like comparing mince pie to banana.
    I love both, but I am happier living in Ireland. Do you have any migration experience?

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: