It’s not hard to conjure an unappetising name for a particularly unpleasant dish of food, but it is hard to imagine why a dish of sausages, oven cooked in a nest of batter, could have created such an misleading image in the mind of the individual who so harshly christened it “Toad in the Hole”. I remember the look of horror on the face of an Australian family member, on his first visit to England, being asked what he felt about toad in the hole. It was clear that he longed to be back in a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder without the need to ask your opinion on whether or not you liked having a toe in your hole. O tempora, O mores…back in Sydney, strolling down Oxford Street, the offer of being toed in the hole would not, I’m sure, be out of place.
I was recently tempted into making a “Toad” but failed to go that extra mile in searching out a suitable sausage. A true Toad demands the inclusion of a full sized banger, which delicacy was not amongst my available options. The finished dish, and the pictures, were the less in looks because of this omission, but the dish itself was saved by the flavoursome batter which I had cooked in lard. Sausages, batter and lard do not tick all the health boxes but they taste very good indeed.
The misleading names of dishes bring to mind a remembered conversation in David Niven’s book, “The Moon’s a Balloon”. During the Blitz in London, as in all theatres of war, there was a shortage of all kinds of foods, let alone luxury items. This fact became apparent to the young David Niven who, when lunching at a bomb damaged Boodles, was asked by the oldest member of the club if he would be so kind as to read the menu to him as the failing light combined with his failing sight made it impossible for him to know what was on offer. “Can’t see the damn thing in this gloom…what’s on the card?” he growled. Niven checked the card and replied “Moules Marinieres, sir”. “Good God,” trumpeted the old colonel, “the bloody fellers have got us eatin’ moles now!”
There’s that damn irritable vowel syndrome again.