Mental Arithmetic……

I have no argument with this nomenclature save that it should serve as an umbrella title for all forms of ‘metics, ‘matics, ‘metrys and ‘bras. The quantity of water displaced by two fat men in a bath would only be of interest to the people in the apartment below and questions entailing trains bursting out of tunnels are too much for an adolescent mind whose days, and particularly nights, are spent dreaming of the moment when the answer to this sticky problem will be revealed to them and, more importantly, by whom. Would it be x? or would it by y? and why would it be y rather than x …..why not x + y.. or x/y and mental puberty was born.

Cups and spoons are familiar objects in every kitchen and it was this familiarity that concerned me yesterday as I stared in vain and in anger at a recipe defining the precise measurements of ingredients that I would need in cups and spoons. The charm and, above all, practicality of both cups and spoons is that both cups and spoons vary enormously in shape and size. With that in mind it beggars belief that some Pilgrim Mother, bereft of her scales, had an ersatz Eureka moment in which she declared that recipe measurements should henceforth be measured in cups and spoons; more exactly, her personal cup and spoon. Behaviour such as that can, and should be, defined as mental arithmetic. Legend has it that her fellow Pilgrim Mothers hung a large, red letter A around her neck : AVOIRDUPOIDS……

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2019, Art photography, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Humour, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Mental Arithmetic……

  1. Mad Dog says:

    Tablespoon is the worst one – in my house it’s the large one used for serving. I suppose that in the old days, before printing and coke by the gram, one used the same spoon for everything.
    …I’ve seen strawberries for sale in Paris by the livre!

  2. Richard Tennant says:

    Have a cup of tea with a spoonful of sugar, and relax!

  3. I love working in cups and spoons, but maybe that’s ‘cos I had to learn all the conversions when I lived down under – so immediately convert in my head! And it’s actually quicker than getting my weighing scales out! Love the prose though as always Rog x

    • Hi Louise….I hadn’t thought that they worked in cups down under. I find the metric system so good to work with because I’m used to it, I guess. Never thought of the convenience of working without scales….not a word, please, as it rather fucks up my argument:)

  4. Linda Duffin says:

    I prefer the precision of weighing scales, except for those recipes which call for a dollop of this and a handful of that (most of my cooking, when I’m not writing it up for other people to follow). 🙂

  5. As a European living in the US since 30 years, I still get confused with this measure of cups, I mean what is that? ….what size of cup?…. it’s much easier for me to be precise with my European scale I brought with me 30 years ago. Have a cup of Rose, please

    • I feel the same about cups…I even had some measuring cups and spoons at one time….the problem was that I always took out the scales first thing when I started to cook something. Cheers, cup of rosé went down very well:)

  6. I try, when I know the conversions, to add them to my recipes but it’s a learning curve. It’s going to be quite the shift when we move back to the UK. I love reading very old cookery books and how vague the measurements are. Plus a warm oven vs a hot oven. That would be hard to figure out these days!

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