Ants on a log, Pumpernickel and spotted dicks – the weird and wonderful names for dishes


Not only dishes have weird names

Being a translator, it is not unusual to stumble upon weird terms for everyday objects or tools. The Germans love to give their tools animal names, e.g. Kuhfuß (crowbar/jemmy) = cow foot, Fuchsschwanz (rip saw) = fox tail or names that include unfortunate innuendo like Nippelspanner (spoke wrench).


Even weirder names

But when it comes to the names of dishes, other nations are far more creative than  Germans.

Yes, we have the occasional funny name for a dish:

  • Kalter Hund = cold dog : an uncooked cake made from biscuits and chocolate/fat mixture
  • Arme Ritter = poor knights:  a kind of sweet french toast
  • Pumpernickel = Devil’s fart: a dark, coarse, and slow baked bread. It is alleged to make you fart, and as we love compounds the name is probably derived from “pumper” –to fart and “nickel” –devil.
  • Tote Oma = dead grandma: fear not, fellow foodies, we don’t eat our grandmas. It ’s a rather special (for me: detesting dish) made with blood sausage.

But look around the world, and you’ll find even more odd names for, mostly, delicious dishes.

International oddities

  • Ant on a log:  this concoction of peanut butter/spread on a celery stick with some raisins looks weird, and, unfortunately, tastes weird.
  • Toad in the hole: This is really strange: sausages in a Yorkshire pudding batter. I never tried it, so I have no idea whether it is delicious or not, but the name is a winner. Some say the name comes from the resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole ­(something I will never see in this dish), but some say that it is a Yorkshire joke and it should be read as “turd in the hole”- which seems so much more likely to me….
  • Shit on a shingle: Let’s stay in this area of food names. It’s originally a military grub, made with creamed chipped beef on toast. It is said to be rather tasty, despite its name.
  • İmam bayıldı: “The imam fainted” A wonderful dish with aubergines, garlic, onions –yummy. The name is not clear – the imam either fainted because the dish was so spectacular tasty or because his wife ran out of aubergines to make his favourite dish. Either way: try it – it is delicious.
  • Strozzapreti: Meaning “priest strangler” , a special pasta form. There are different explanations for the name, one of them is, that a really greedy priest ate too much and too fast so that he choked.
  • Spotted dick: I mean, is it really really possible to order that in a café without having fits of uncontrollable laughter? The dick part is most probably an old term for pudding, but still… Perhaps that is the reason why it was renamed “spotted Richard” in 2009.

There are many more strange, funny, obscene, sad names for delicious things out there, for example Nun’s farts, singing hinnies, dead man’s arm, devil on a horseback etc.

Care to share some of your favorite weird names for dishes and maybe also the tale behind the words?

Autor: Manu

Ich bin staatlich geprüfte Übersetzerin in der Sprache Englisch sowie Fremdsprachenkorrespondentin Englisch und Spanisch. Als Fachübersetzerin arbeite ich für Unternehmen und Institutionen unterschiedlicher Größenordnungen weltweit.

4 Gedanken zu „Ants on a log, Pumpernickel and spotted dicks – the weird and wonderful names for dishes“

    1. Thank you for the link to your beautiful website! I love the names – especially Arabian dishes have such beautiful names. It would be really interesting to learn the story behind the names.

  1. Some Dutch dishes:
    Hete bliksem [hot lightning], a mix of mashed potatoes and apples
    Hutspot [hussled pot], a mix of mashed potatoes, carrots and onions (traditionally eaten on the 3rd of October, „Leidens Ontzet“, the freeing of the city of Leiden, a turning point in the Dutch-Hispanic war, which led to the forming of the Dutch state)
    Wentelteefjes [turning bitches], rests of sliced bread baked in butter
    Klapstuk [clapping piece], a certain kind of beef

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