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Let’s start with the classic, the one everyone knows:
1: Spotted Dick
This steamed fruit pudding (I know, the innuendos are kind of hard of escape) dates from a time before dick meant anything other than a contraction of the name Richard. The spots are the raisins in the suet sponge, and that yellowy fluid around the base (seriously, stop giggling, it’s FOOD) is custard.
2: Flies Graveyard
Poor old raisins are always getting the blame for making lovely foodstuffs have rotten names. Flies graveyard is any slab of pastry with mincemeat (a kind of jam made of dried fruit, spirits and spices) at its core. And it’s called that because it looks like a dead fly sandwich. This doesn’t seem to put anyone off, however.
3: Eton Mess
While it’s true this is an unsculptured sort of a pudding, the mess in the name of this strawberry, cream and meringue creation is most likely to have been coined in similar spirit to dollop or splat, a word that suggests a rough amount: like a mess of greens. It was first served in Eton school, however, that much we do know.
4: Bedfordshire Clanger
Not, perhaps, as gross as the others (unless you’re a fan of the Oliver Postgate children’s animation The Clangers, in which case it’s APPALLING!), but if you’ve seen that episode of Friends where Rachel attempts to make an English trifle and mistakenly adds minced beef as a layer, you may be interested to know this sort of mixture does exist as a real dish. At one end of this rather phallic pasty is a savory stew of diced meat and potatoes, at the other is jam or cooked apple. It’s like a McDonalds apple pie with a burger and fries crammed in one end. Suddenly spotted dick is looking rather appealing, right?
5: Black Bun
Yup, that’s a fruitcake encased in pastry. And yup, it’s Scottish cuisine. Originally intended as a ceremonial dish for Twelfth Night, it now gets brought out on Hogmanay, providing a much-needed starch lining for the stomach amid a night of carousing and drink. Or at least it would if the fruit cake wasn’t soused in whisky (or brandy).
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic