A lovely forgotten food word wandered through my consciousness a few weeks ago. Lollybanger. A unique-sounding word indeed. But apparently referring to two entirely different food things: a sausage on a stick, and a type of gingerbread with raisins. To confuse the matter it was also sometimes the name for a ship’s cook (a man who was wont to cook loblolly. Don’t worry about it now, we’ll get around to it shortly.)
How can one such strange word mean such different things?
‘Lolly’ is short for lollipop, which is a sweet (candy) or ice on a stick, except in Australia, where any candy is a ‘lolly’. The word apparently comes from a dialect word of the north of England referring to the tongue. ‘Banger’ was seventeenth century English slang for ‘an astounding lie’ (according to the OED) – which presumably eventually led to its twentieth century use to refer to the deceitful nature of a sausage. Hence, we have arrived at lollybanger as a tasty sausage on a stick. I guess the ideas of the tongue and deceit probably cover the ship’s cook too.
The Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words … (1857) tells us that lolly-banger is Somerset dialect for ‘very thick gingerbread enriched by raisins’, but leaves us frustrated for an eytmologically satisfying explanation. The ‘lolly’ fits, gingerbread being a tasty dish, but banger? Scholars of Olde Somerset dialect, please feel free to weigh in.
In the total absence of a recipe for Lollybanger Gingerbread (I have not given up hope), I give you this worthy addition to the Through the Ages with Gingerbread Archive.
How to Make Fruit Gingerbread.
Four cups of flour; one of butter; one of sugar; one of molasses; one of milk; four eggs; three teaspoonfuls of ginger; a teaspoonful of cloves and nutmegs; half a pound of currants and raisins; add the fruit last, and bake in pans in an oven, not very quick.
The Farmer’s Every-day Book, by John Lauris Blake. 1850
Now for loblolly. Loblolly is a thick gruel particularly associated with the seafaring life. Now we find in the OED that ‘lolly’ is also an old Devon dialect word for ‘broth or soup’. Soup, when bubbling away in the pot goes ‘lob-lob-lob-lob’. It really does - listen to it, when you make this gruel. Try it for breakfast, it is just porridge really - with butter and brandy added.
Oatmeal Pottage, or Gruel.
Mix together three table spoonfuls of oatmeal, a very little salt, and a quart of water; put them over a fire, and let it boil gently for half an hour. Then skim and strain it, add to it an ounce of fresh butter, some loaf sugar, a little brandy, and grated nutmeg; or instead of these ingredients put pepper, salt, and fresh butter, to the palate; then boil it again five minutes, mix it till very smooth, and let it be of a moderate consistence.
The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined, by John Mollard, 1802
Quotation for the Day …
He receives comfort like cold porridge.