Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Name of the Pudding.

Today I am going to reverse the natural order of things, and give you a recipe first up.

The Spread-Eagle Pudding.
Cut off the Crust of three Half-penny Rolls, then slice them into your Pan; then set three Pints of Milk over the Fire, make it scalding hot, but do not let it boil, so pour it over your Bread and cover it close, and let it stand an Hour; then put a good Spoonful of Sugar, a very little Salt, a Nutmeg grated, a Pound of Sewet after it is shred, half a Pound of Currants, washed and picked, pour Spoonfuls of cold Milk, then Eggs, but five of the Whites, and well all is in, stir it, and mix it well; butter a Dish. Less than an Hour will bake it.
[From The whole duty of a woman,…. 1737]

Now this recipe for bread pudding has me greatly puzzled. It is a fairly basic recipe not unlike thousands of others for an ordinary bread pudding of the custard variety. So, my question is “Whither the name?”

The “Spread Eagle” is a heraldic term for the depiction of an eagle “displayed” (that is, as if spread out with both wings and both legs seen in the same plane as the body) as on the Great Seal of the United States, the insignia for a Colonel in the US military, and the Coat of Arms of Poland, Austria, Germany, Russia and a number of other countries. By virtue of this grand symbolic use, it is also the name of a large number of pubs, taverns, and other hostelries in Britain and elsewhere.

For obvious reasons, the “spread-eagle” has also been adopted as a term used to refer the human body stretched out for flogging or certain sexual adventures. Perhaps less obviously, for those not familiar with the sports, it is apparently used to describe a certain figure-skating exercise as well as the result of a ten-pin bowling split which leaves the 2-3-4-6-7-10 pins still standing.

There are a couple more uses of the phrase: spread-eagling refers to a particular type of jingoistic attitude and a gruesome method of execution supposedly perpetrated by the ancient Vikings.

I cannot for the life of me fathom how something as innocuous as a bread pudding has attracted a name with this sort of connotations. So, I ask you “Wither the name of this pudding?” Any ideas?

Quotation for the Day.

Y'know I order a club sandwhich all the time. And I'm not even a member. I don't know how I get away with it. I like my sandwiches with three peices of bread. So do I. Lets form a club. Okay, but we're gonna need more stipulation. Yes we do. Instead of cutting it once, lets cut it again. Yeah, four triangles. And we shall dump chips in the middle. Let me ask you something, how do you feel about frilly toothpicks? I'm for them.
Mitch Hedberg.

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