Okay, so please join me on this possibly unintelligible ramble
through a few words. Tammy points out (in fact, she wastes no opportunity) that ‘Spotted Dick’ is possibly the funniest pudding (dessert) ever named. And of course, it’s British.
So, what is it and why was it called such a silly name? I figure
Tammy finds it funny because she knows that ‘dick’ in British slang (and
presumably American) is another word for ‘penis’. Obviously a spotted one wouldn’t be a good thing.
The dish itself is a fairly basic traditional steamed suet pudding, with the pleasant additions of dried raisins or currants (spots of varying sizes) and possibly some warm spices and lemon zest (although I doubt
Forget about the spotted bit for now. What does ‘dick’ mean, and
why is this pudding called it? The genius etymological dictionary www.etymonline.com says that it firstly means ‘fellow, lad, or man’. Dick may not be a sensible thing to call a random stranger nowadays, Northern blokes sometimes call each other ‘cock’, which has the same meaning (‘man’ and ‘penis’). Its subtext is ‘we are both on the same level’.
Clearly the pudding is not a man.
Read that sentence again. Pudding. What a nice British word. It
sounds like stodge. What does it mean?
Okay … so to unravel this confusion: back in the day, a meaty or
bloody mix of fat and grains was stuffed into the entrails of an herbivore and called a pudding.
Now, what shape are entrails? They’re sausage shaped, aren’t they? (Or sausages are shaped like entrails. Whatever.) So pudding became
sausage in many cases.
And what shape is a sausage?
Ah. A penis. We’re back to the rude stuff. Pudding managed to retain its penis definition for centuries, as recently as 1939 written as ‘pud’ by James Joyce.
Interesting how that happened. We’re talking about a pudding
with a rude name, and it turns out that the word ‘pudding’ itself is a
contributor to the rude stuff.
But that’s what people don’t realise. Spotted Dick is
a joke, and it really does mean spotted penis.
Part of the English sense of humour is to play on words with
puns, jokes and hidden meanings. Large Spotted Dicks used to be rolled into a cylinder shape, wrapped in a muslin cloth and steamed for hours till cooked. Round slices were hacked off and doused in custard.
So this pudding is sausage or penis shaped* and calling it Spotted Pud would have been a cleverly accurate double entendre. But it’s a name with a borderline personality disorder, and at some point it became Spotted Dick. Instead of the background meaning of ‘penis shaped pudding’, we have a confusing name that only means ‘penis’**.
Why would the name change? There are several possibilities, but
here’s my hypothesis: that the pudding was called Spotted Pudding in the first place, but ‘pudding’ as slang for ‘penis’ fell out of widespread use as the word ‘dick’ became more popular. The two words were likely used interchangeably for a long while, depending on the region, and eventually the Spotted Dick name stuck, and ‘pud’ with the double entendre (dessert/penis) stopped being used.
So sure, Tammy, it is rude and a ridiculous name for a pudding. Though it probably tastes pretty good.
*unlike, for example, Sticky Toffee
**forget the suggestion that it refers to someone called Dick. You tend to get people’s names in pudding names when there’s some reference to them in the dish. Eve’s Pudding is sponge on top of stewed apple, for example.
STANDING OVATAION for Sakina, that was bloody good. But now we must move on to something else. Sakina has a tiny problem that I'm going to try to help her with. She's a foodie and knows EVERYTHING about food and is happy to tell you about it. But when it comes to tooting her own horn regarding the amazing book she recently released, well she doesn't have the nerve. The assignment was easy: write a blog post and then talk about yourself and your book. She talked about spotted dick and then got off at the closest bus stop...and ran. She ran away without even mentioning the title of her book.
I highly recommend the book, it's one of a kind just like Sakina. Check out her blog or just say "hi" to her on Twitter. Even though we've never met in person, I kind of feel like she's my little sister. So make sure your nice to her or you'll have some AniMAASity to contend with.