A Few of my Favourite Things: Food & Swearing

Oh happy days! The Dark Peak series – which kicks off in June with No Good Reason – sees me back writing in Brit, and not only that but writing a novel whose central characters are a detective and an Accident & Emergency doc. Now, for those who might not know, shift work does weird things to a person’s diet (if you regularly eat your tea at 3 a.m., chances are you’re not sitting down to a balanced three-course meal) and it’s no secret that those of us who work shifts eat a lot of crap or, in the case of my cast of miscreants, just seem to eat a lot. They also swear a lot, which means that I get to do another one of these blogs for the folks who aren’t fluent in the foodstuffs and swearing capabilities of our beautiful little isle. Yes, it’s the No Good Reason menu/swearing guide, wherein I explain what the hell a Battenberg cake is and show you pictures of delicious pastry-coated items, and you get to go away hungry and cursing me.

This blog update is sponsored by Settlers Tums.

Chippy Tea

Takeaway Fish and ChipsIt seems fitting that the very first chapter of No Good Reason sees Detective Sanne Jensen and her best friend Dr. Meg Fielding treating themselves to a chippy tea. In their case it comprises fish, chips, buttered bread, and curry sauce (or gravy) with mugs of tea. When I say fish, I mean battered fish – none of your bread-crumbed imposters, please – and when I say chips, I mean thick, crispy, proper chips, not McDonald’s-esque “fries”. Lashings of salt and vinegar is essential. No vinegar = you’re doing it wrong.

Optional extras: Pickled eggs, mushy peas, and a barm cake (regionally AKA: a bap, bread roll, bread muffin, or batch) for making a chip butty.

chip barm

The “barm cake” is the source of much confusion/debate/argument in the UK with no two regions calling them the same thing. Along with the pronunciation of “scone” it’s possibly the most contentious food-related issue in the country to date!

Chocolate HobNobs

hobnobA practically perfect biscuit to accompany a mug of tea, the chocolate HobNob is an oaty, crunchy treat topped with milk chocolate. I’m not a dunker, but I am reliably informed that – if you’re that way inclined – the HobNob is something of a legend when it comes to surviving a dip in a brew. The special edition chocolate orange versions are also highly recommended.

Double Decker

cadbury-double-decker_11

A layered chocolate bar boasting a base of cereal crispies and a topping of whipped nougat all covered in Cadbury’s milk chocolate. They’re sweet enough to send susceptible types into a diabetic coma, but as a treat they’re bloody lovely.

 

Quavers

QuaversA firm favourite in USA-destined snack packages, the Quaver is a twisty, curly, marvel of cheesiness. It makes for an ideal accompaniment to any packed lunch, where the crisps can be slapped in the middle of a sandwich to provide a bit of bite and liven up an otherwise boring butty (sandwich!).

 

Haribo

StarmixI don’t honestly know a single member of the ambulance service who doesn’t eat these little buggers in one variety or another. They’re sweets made for kids and appropriated by adults, and they come in a wide assortment of forms – jellies, liquorice, fizzy things, chewy things – all of them delicious. Probably invented for the sole purpose of pepping up night shifts, day shifts, and shift work in general. The Dark Peak series features what I like to think of as the Classic Haribo: Starmix.

Pasty & Sausage roll

greenhalghsA typical English dinner (known as lunch in the south) bought on the fly will often be a sandwich, but pasties and sausage rolls are also right up there when it comes to takeaway snacky options. A bastardisation of the traditional Cornish pasties, high street chain bakery examples are flattened and often quite depressing offerings of puff pastry filled with insipid and tepid meat-type substances. The best ones are crammed with meat, veg, spuds and gravy, or cheese and onion. Being a borderline Wiganer by birth, I’m more of a pie girl myself, but I do love a cheap and cheerful sausage roll…

greggs-sausage-roll

Greggs’ sausage rolls: they don’t come much cheaper than these!

Battenberg Cake

I like to include pretty (or pretty unusual!) foods in my books and there’s not much prettier than a Battenberg cake. A light, jam-coated sponge covered in marzipan, the Battenberg doesn’t seem particularly special until you cut into it. And then it looks like this. See? Lovely, isn’t it? 🙂

battenberg

Eggy Bread

Us northerners don’t really stand on ceremony, and eggy bread is what French Toast is commonly called round these parts. It’s basically slices of white bread dipped into beaten egg (add a bit of milk to make your egg go further) and fried in oil. Being an ignorant peasant, I used to eat mine with tomato ketchup, but I now prefer to cover it in proper maple syrup, i.e. not that maple “flavoured” ice cream sauce crap.

eggy bread

Scone

The essential ingredient in any cream tea, the scone (say it to rhyme with “bone” or you’re saying it wrong!) is a little cake-type thingy that doesn’t really seem worth bothering with until you serve it warm and fill it with whipped (or clotted) cream and jam. Then it’s probably the most amazing thing you will ever eat, especially if you have a piping hot pot of tea to go with it.

scone

Bloody hell, I’m hungry now. Which, conveniently, brings me onto…

Part II: How to Swear in Fluent Brit

If there’s one thing the British are good at, it’s swearing. Far from stunting our vocabulary, swearing has broadened it, resulting in a far-reaching plethora of insults and epithets that go beyond the usual, dare I say rather mundane, “fuck” and “shit”. Here are just a few examples common to my profane little region.

Bloody: A mild but very versatile curse with many variations for usage – “Bloody Nora”, “Fat bloody chance”, “Don’t you bloody dare”. It is also easily combined with other insults, to wit: “You’re a bloody useless bugger”. Regional use may change it to “bleedin'” as in: “you’re a bleedin’ halfwit” – you’re not terribly bright.

Bugger/Sod/Git/Berk/Pillock/Twerp/Numpty/Wazzock/Tit: Genial insults that lack any real edge, and can be used almost fondly, i.e: “You’re being a silly sod”, “Poor old bugger”, “Don’t be such a berk”. Generally used to imply that the person is a bit soft in the head.

Bollocks: Often used as an expression of exasperation: “Oh bollocks!” but can be used to describe a telling off: “I just got a good bollocking”, or to add emphasis to a statement of denial: “Have I bollocks!”

Wanker: Loosely defined as someone who enjoys taking matters into their own hands (if you catch my drift), “wanker” is often used as a harsher insult, and is probably not one to say in front of your mum. Also: “Toss-pot” – similar definition,  less offensive.

Twat: Pronounced with two hard Ts (I have no idea where this “Twaite” business has come from), this is also quite an unpleasant insult, although it’s used so often around here that it’s lacking in impact.

Piss: Unlike Americans, who tend to use this just to mean annoyed, us Brits have almost infinite variations and usages for this term – something that has caused a fair amount of amusement and revision during the editing process! A few of the more common examples: “Piss off” – “Go away”, “Pissed off” – Annoyed, “Taking the Piss” – Having a laugh at someone’s expense, “Pissed” – Drunk, “Piss-Can” – An alcoholic, “Piss on his chips” – Annoy someone, “Couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery” – Someone who is profoundly useless.

Ball-ache:  A tiresome or impossible task. As in “this is going to be an absolute ball-ache”.

Scrote: Often used by the emergency services to describe ne’er-do-wells or bottom-feeders, those lowlifes who make our lives so very entertaining. It doesn’t take a genius to work out its origins.

Feel free to add any omissions, or your personal favourites in the comments!

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About Cari Hunter

Cari Hunter is the author of "Snowbound", "Desolation Point" and "Tumbledown", and the Dark Peak series of crime thrillers - "No Good Reason", "Cold to the Touch", and "A Quiet Death" - all published by Bold Strokes Books.
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9 Responses to A Few of my Favourite Things: Food & Swearing

  1. Margaret Flint Suter says:

    Loved reading this, brought so memories of my years in Scotland back!! Have my copy of No Good Reason pre-ordered, so am watching my post box closely for its arrival come June! I could kill for a decent, authentic helping of proper fish and chips, how I miss the chippy in Brechin!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      I had chippy in the USA once and it was all wrong – served in cardboard, breaded fish, lemon wedge and fries (the horror!) Hope you have fun with the book, Margaret, and I’ll think of you the next time we treat ourselves to fish and chips 🙂

  2. Jac C says:

    YES! Bought the ebook! Gonna spend the whole day on it!
    ‘A typical English dinner (known as lunch in the south)..’ Ok, so dinner and lunch are like totally different hey, haha! So if dinner is what the south calls lunch, then what’s their lunch called?

    Battenberg cake looks lovely, though I’m not a fan of marzipan. French Toast and scones are my fav! I can’t imagine how scones can be pronounced in any other way!

    Love the swear words lol. I used to follow some Brit stars, and the comments section of the local gossip magazines are always littered with swear words, lol. One in particular comes to mind: chav. Seems like Brits are kind of harsh on their own sometimes.

    • Cari Hunter says:

      Yes! I hope you have fun with it (and thank you for buying it) 🙂

      We have breakfast, dinner, and tea here. My wife – who’s a southerner – has breakfast, lunch and supper. It’s all very confusing. I tend to say “lunch” more now, probably thanks to her influence, but the main evening meal will always be tea.

      I’ll let you into a little confession, I don’t like marzipan either, but I do love a nice slice of Battenberg. I tend to peel the marzipan off it, which leaves the cake with a lovely almond flavour but doesn’t force you to chomp through half an inch of marzipan. I do the same with my mum’s Christmas cake.

      Up here, “Chav” is used more for people who have money but no taste. The sort of nouveau riche who flash around in big cars with big hair and a ton of make up…TOWIE types, I suppose. I think in some areas it’s more interchangeable with “scrote”, whereas we’d just go for good ol’ “scrote”!

      • Jac C says:

        Haha! And we say breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper! Now I know why you wrote this article… so Sanne’s mum baked the Battenberg cake huh! 🙂

        SPOILER!!

        I’m not a book reviewer.. I suck at it, but I enjoyed this latest. It’s been a while since I last read your previous books, so I may be wrong, but the emotional angle of the characters are stronger here. I think when I read your first book, I wasn’t feeling much about the characters, but in this book, I got more emotional invested in Sanne and Meg. Maybe because their relationship is pretty special and refreshing. I’m actually surprised that Sanne seems to be pretty vulnerable so often, given that she’s a cop, but I get that she’s still quite new in the job. I kinda like the secondary characters too, especially Nelson and Eleanor. I’d love to read more about them. Just curious, when you write a character, do you have someone in mind? Like, do you ‘borrow’ a characteristic or physical feature of someone you know for your characters? I’m just wondering if this is gonna be a movie, who’ll play the characters, haha!

        And I’m thankful that the victims are back together. I’d fly to the UK and personally strangle you if you’d let R die.

        Regarding chav, yes I get what you mean. I believe some celebs came from council housing, or whatever you peeps call that. I’m guessing that means they have a poor background and no class, so when they’re famous, they’re sorta newly rich but still with no class?

        I can’t wait for the next book. To be honest, I’m not sure whether I prefer S and M to be officially together in the next book. I mean, I like them together, but it’s sorta interesting that they’re still dancing around haha.

        Meanwhile, I think I’ll just go back to your previous books and reread them again…

        • Cari Hunter says:

          Sorry it’s taken me a couple of days to reply – we had the BSB fest in Notts on Saturday and then I copped for a day shift yesterday!

          I think you’re spot on with your comments about the characters in this one. I set out with the intention (hope!) of developing this first book into a series and, bearing that in mind, I took care to establish Sanne and Meg as more rounded characters. So they got a proper family background and far more family involvement in the story, and a shared history that I could play around with, and they probably ended up with more flaws than any of my other leads. It’s difficult to do any of that when you’re writing a story as pacey as Desolation Point or Snowbound, you can only really sketch in your characters, and I was determined not to fall into that trap with No Good Reason. The feedback I’ve received so far suggests I’ve got the character/plot balance about right!

          In terms of Sanne’s confidence, she’s fine whilst she’s working within the rules – she has no problems interviewing suspects or dealing with the public (she’d have had plenty of experience doing both as a patrol officer), it’s the things that bend the rules or put her out in front of her more senior colleagues that she has more difficulty with. I didn’t want to write an over-confident, alpha-female, I think there’s enough of those in LesFic, and if you start off with someone who’s a bit of a Mary Poppins (practically perfect in every way!) then there’s nowhere to go with them as a writer. The issue will raise its head in Cold…

          I didn’t have anyone in mind for Sanne and Meg. I have played the “who would you cast?” game with my missus and we were both stumped! They’d have to be complete unknowns, I think. Two northern lasses, cute but a bit scruffy around the edges, lacking a little in height and decorum 🙂

          I’m not going to say much about book 2, but I have a feeling you might like it…And thank you very much for your feedback.

  3. Anne says:

    Loved the blog Cari and loved the book…. Fish and chips is (are??) much better in the north (I live near London) but we’ve found a fab chippy locally run by a Chinese family. Double deckers are yum but the lion bar is nearly as good… The other great insult is eejit and again said in an endearing way… Looking forward to book two for a Christmas pressie!

    • Cari Hunter says:

      I’m so glad you managed to find a decent chippy, these things are very important. Oh, and that you loved the book 😉

      I can’t do Lion Bars because they’re peanutty – although if my memory serves, they weren’t when I was a kid and I liked them then. I always thought “eejit” hailed from Ireland, it’s not something that’s caught on around these parts.

      And yes, book II is rather nicely timed for Christmas. I hope it’s going to find itself tucked into a few stockings.

  4. Pingback: News Roundup: New Books from Clare Lydon, Jody Klaire & Jade Winters, New Ylva Author A.E. Radley, Events, Blogs, Giveaways, & More! | UK Lesbian Fiction

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