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Spotted Dick renamed ‘Spotted Richard’ in Commons restaurant to spare MPs’ blushes

It is the steamed pudding first served up for Victorian diners by the French chef Alexis Benoist Sawyer in 1849.

Made from a flat sheet of suet pastry, sprinkled with a generous helping of dried fruit and layered with custard, it is now a staple of any traditional British menu.

But as the English vernacular has evolved over time, the affectionately named “Spotted Dick” has become a growing source of of amusement for diners – so much so, that waiters in the Houses of Parliament now dare not say it out loud.

The Telegraph has learned that staff working in Strangers’, the 19th century restaurant used by MPs to entertain and dine guests, have resorted to using the name “Spotted Richard” in order to spare the clientele their blushes.

Four staff waiting on tables in the restaurant confirmed the name change when approached by this newspaper on Thursday.

Call a dick a dick I say!Michael Fabricant MP

They were less forthcoming when asked for an explanation, stating only that “Richard” was less likely to cause a stir with guests.

However, the rebrand appears to have had the opposite of the desired effect, with Strangers’ regulars taking to social media to brand the change “very silly”.

Andrea Jenkyns, the Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood, was the first to raise the alarm, taking to revealing on Wednesday that her waiter had offered her a slice of “Spotted Richard” when reading from the special desserts menu.

Speaking to the Telegraph after the incident, Ms Jenkyns added that she had “to bite on my lip to stop myself from laughing”.

“I had to ask twice, just to be sure,” she continued. “They have a traditional desserts section which changes daily, so I asked what the dessert was and that’s when they said it. I still have no idea why.”

Whilst Ms Jenkyns has taking the issue in her stride, others have been far less forgiving.

Responding to the news, Nigel Farage, the former leader of UKIP and a pudding enthusiast, branded the renaming “PC Baloney”, adding that the House of Commons “may as well shut down”.

Echoing his comments, Michael Fabricant, the MP for Lichfield, said the decision was rather puerile, adding: “Call a dick a dick I say!”

Crush the desserters: Tory MP Michael Fabricant described the menu change as ‘very silly’

Credit:
Jeff Gilbert

Originally a House of Commons spokesman denied the rumours were true, stating that the dish remained one of “many traditional hot puddings” served up in Parliament’s various eateries.

Later, they added: “We are not always able to control how staff may refer to dishes.”

It comes more than a decade after Tesco was widely mocked when it emerged that it had also rebranded the dessert “Richard”, a decision it said that was prompted by a supermarket survey which showed that female shoppers were embarrassed by the name.

Speaking at the time, a spokesman said: “Can you imagine a lady going up to a male assistant and asking where she can find a Spotted Dick?”

More recently, in 2009, Flintshire Council confirmed that catering staff had changed the wording on their menu following a string of “immature comments” from customers.

Asked about the origins of the dessert, which first appeared in Soyer’s recipe book, Ménagère, in 1849, food historian Annie Gray said that the term “dick” was simply an old English term for pudding.

“It’s one of a repertoire of terribly British puddings – puddings generally are one of the most identifiably British dishes – and the first mention of it is in the mid 19th century,” she added.

“Dick seems to have been a more general term for pudding, so it really means spotted pudding – so if anyone was going to alter the name to stop the mildly smutty jokes, which are as old as the pudding itself,  then ‘spotted pud’ would perhaps be a better option than the rather overly prudish ‘spotted Richard’.”

However, early 18th century dictionaries suggest that the etymology of the pudding’s name originates from the proper name Dick, such as Dick-dunnock, a local name for a hedge-sparrow, or long-tailed Dick, a titmouse.

Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/14/spotted-dick-renamed-spotted-richard-commons-restaurant-spare/

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