Wednesday, February 08, 2012

visitor lobscouse bus

Posted by PicasaOne of the seagulls which has taken to visiting a corner of The Grove. It is occupying an aerial normally the preserve of blackbirds, pigeons and of course one of the two crows to whom the little park belongs.

The weather being cold and the wind sharp, Heidi suggests lobscouse, or, as she would call it, labscouse. She was born in a town near Hamburg, where this sailors' dish is (nowadays, essentially mashed potatoes with corned beef and fried onion, not unlike the American hash). It is  as well known in Hamburg as it is in Liverpool whence the native accent derives the term Scouse. In Heidi's tradition it is served with a fried egg on top. My fascination is with the connection which the dish establishes between a great seafaring town in the north of Germany and one in the north of England. Then it  features in the novels of Partick O'Brian, which trace the fortunes of the English sea captain Jack Aubrey and his half Irish, half Catalan friend the ships' surgeon and spy Stephen Maturin, during the Napoleonic Wars. 
The Lobscouse in The Far Side of the World is a little different from the modern version in Liverpool, Hamburg or Tunbridge Wells, but its ancestry is well attested: "'It is one of the oldest of the forecastle dishes, and eats very savoury when it is well made'. This was a rich man's lobscouse... the potatoes and pounded biscuit that ordinarily made up the bulk of the dish could scarcely be detected at all, being quite overpowered by the fat meat, fried onions and powerful spices."
Though she makes no other criticism an otherwise appreciative Heidi does remark of my attempt: "In Hamburg there would be more meat and less mashed potato."

We fear that the bus to Sevenoaks where we have to go for a dental appointment will be delayed because of the cold weather. But not at all, it is waiting for us at the stop 10 minutes before it is due to depart. "There's no traffic," says the young woman driver. I have to keep stopping to catch up the timetable." She has been  driving buses for four and a half years", she says while we wait in the warmth for the bus to start. We are so far the only passengers.

1 comment:

Roderick Robinson said...

I'm going through the 20-volume sequence for the fourth or fifth time. I particularly like "it eats very savoury" which comes to terms with the fact that there isn't - as far as I know - an adverb based on that noun/adj.