Chips or Mash?

I committed a cardinal sin at supper time and now the man of the house is in a sulk. It’s perfectly fine to incorporate rice into certain dishes, and it’s even finer to serve up a hearty rice pudding for dessert. But never, never, never, serve rice as a side offering on his plate. Any kind of pasta meal is bound to get the same reaction. Apart from my baked macaroni and cheese dish, which passes inspection for some unknown reason. Maybe it’s the stodge factor. He’s English, after all. 😉

The rice/pasta aversion seems to be a common thing among the England-born of my acquaintance, especially of the male gender. A meal isn’t a meal without spuds in one form or another. Back in my nurse days, I worked in a long term care facility which was home to a sizeable population of English transplants. Pasta was pretty much removed from the menu because of its unpopularity … and the abuse hurled at kitchen staff when it was served. But they stubbornly refused to give up the rice option, despite the predictable verbal opposition.

Most shifts I ended up feeding supper to a lovely gentleman in the advanced stages of MS. Brilliant man, interesting life, wicked sense of humour, stimulating conversation guaranteed. He wasn’t English, but his table, and those in close proximity, tended to be popular meal congregation spots for the Northern England contingent. When the plates started to come out from the kitchen on rice nights, he and I would exchange smirks and an unspoken “wait for it.” Kitchen staff distributed the loaded plates as fast as they could, but it was never quite fast enough!

“Nay, nay, lass. Rice is for puddin’, not for eatin’.”

“Ay up …mumble mumble … bloody moock …mumble mumble … throw it oot bloody winda … mutter mutter … I fought in the bloody war … mumble mumble …”

“Eeeh, hinny, what’s this? Ah canna dee a day’s worrk on this, like. Weor are the tetties? Ahm gannin ta me room and yee can flush tha muck doon tha netty!”

The Essex/Suffolk border transplant I live with doesn’t lapse into colourful dialect after so many years in this country, but he doesn’t need to. The hang dog look when the bowl of rice appears says it all.

Wait until the leftovers hit the table tomorrow.


7 thoughts on “Chips or Mash?

  1. I think the English palate has become far more diverse over the last decade or so, as have the communities that we live. This in turn has increased the demand upon the supermarkets to provide a wider range of culinary delights. I don’t know of many people who would turn their noses up at rice or pasta these days, even up int north of England where I live. It must be the English abroad who still remember the days of meat, two veg and tatties. They remember what it used to be like over here and want it to be the same, but we’ve moved on. As for the baked macaroni dish you mention, when can I come over for my tea?

  2. They must be a weird transplanted bunch of Brits then, because everyone I know in the UK, family included love rice and pasta in any shape or form. Who are these strange people? 😉

  3. It must be the English blood in me (my grandad on my father's side was English), because I don't feel I have had a proper meal unless I've had 'tatties' of some description either! LOVE potatoes in any way, shape or form.I do like rice too, but not so keen on pasta.

  4. I think you've probably nailed it, Wosser. Obviously the people I looked after back in my nursing days, which were some time ago now, came of age in an England that is long, long gone. Even my husband's generation (he's a fair bit older than I, so we're basically talking about your parents' generation here) knew an England that no longer exists. He was shocked when he went back in the late '90s, after a gap between visits of about 16 years. He hardly recognized the place anymore, eating habits included!But to be fair, I know lots of older Canadians who aren't too keen on anything other than potatoes, either. Again, it's just what they knew in their earlier years, I suppose. I've just not usually heard them be quite so vocal about it as the former Brits. 😉 Or perhaps I'm just much better at tuning out the familiar accent!Question for you, Alexandra. I know that you're a city gal, but is that also the case with most of your family and others in your “circle” in the UK? If so, that might be the difference. Most of the British people I've known came from quite rural areas over there, and ended up in quite rural areas here. So perhaps it has taken them longer to catch onto potato alternatives due to lack of exposure. Just a thought. But I'm prepared to have my theory shot down in flames. 🙂 Oh, and there's also the fact that your immediate family travelled to exotic places during your growing up years. That would have obviously opened their minds to new food experiences. Hey, anyone who can go and pluck a rambutan off a tree in the back yard is probably going to be very familiar with rice, right?!I really like pasta and rice myself, Leigh, and don't need potatoes to feel like I've had a meal. Which is a statement that would have me tarred and feathered if I uttered it in my home town, but I think that it's safe to say it here. 🙂 I grew up in one of the major potato growing areas in the country, and the potato processing plant out there is the the major employer for quite a large area. Oh, and King Spud is the town mascot. Seriously. Don't believe me? Check this out:'s a reasonably ok site from my old stomping ground, so if you're really bored and looking for something to kill time, click on “home” after you've had enough of that stunning King Spud shot, and/or the slide show, and follow some links. Some things have changed in the 25 years since I left, but most of it is still what I knew. Progress crawls very slowly in rural Manitoba. 🙂 Anyway, back to the spuds, I'm not so sure about your declaration of loving potatoes in any shape or form. I believe that you love them in most forms, but who was it who had an almighty rant about what she'd do if she saw one more french fry by the end of her trip to California last Christmas?? Well??? 😀 Memory like an elephant, I tell ya … on the odd occasion when it actually works!

  5. Bwahahahaha! Okay, so you got me! Damn you and your memory! YES, I did say I never wanted to see another french fry as long as I lived, but that was ONLY because that was basically THE only way you were offered potato while in the States. “Would you like French fries or French fries with that”? Aaaarrrggghhh!You've just brought back my nightmare all over again! *sob*

  6. Oh, sorry, Leigh.:) Didn't realize that I'd be dredging up a nightmare there! Fries used to be “the” thing here, too, but not so much anymore. Of course they're still on offer if you want them, but most places offer other alternatives. And Wosser, I forgot to extend the invitation for tea when I replied to your comment. Could I just ask you to please bring along some fine English cheddar, the sharper the better, for the cheese sauce? Our Canadian cheddar is getting a bit too wimpy for my liking. Still fine for eating as is, but not enough flavour when cooked.

  7. I would be more than happy to take up your offer next time I am in your neck of the woods. Extra mature vintage cheddar it is then!! Cheaper than a bottle of wine at least. What the heck, maybe I'll bring both.

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