The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Nov 29, 2010

Spotted Dog

Jim Kershner, one-time columnist with The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, WA, compiled his outpourings into Mountain Goats Are My Weakness: And Other Tales of Life in the Northwest, where he discussed, among other things, 'spotted dick' and its relationship to Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey series of maritime thrillers. Readers of O'Brian will no doubt recall his fetish for food (which also I have mentioned here). I would also point out two intrepid gastronomes (sisters-in-law, I suspect) who wrote a cookbook (which Kershner refers to in his own) Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which is a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels inspired by the concoctions served up in the 19th century Royal Navy.
...we finally settled on a menu which included spotted dog. This contains no dog, either, of course, but is what the British called a "pudding" or what we today would call a "lump of dough more dense than an intergalactic black hole, dotted with weird fruit chunks" (thus the spots). The only surviving modern-day equivalent is, of course, the fruitcake.
... So, anyway, we also settled on venison pasty, a dish which showed off the charming British penchant for putting chunks of meat in a pie shell. For our other main course, we settled on lobscouse, which is a mixed-up hash of corned beef, potatoes, onions and leeks. It was (and still is) a mainstay recipe for the seafaring nations of the Baltic and North Atlantic.


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