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"gubbins - various things that are not important" Oxford Dictionary

"gubbins - another word for stuff" I Swear English


Yes there is a connection between these two pictures. On the left my husband's nephew - now a grown man of course - who bears his father's surname of Gubbins, and who, as a human being, is definitely important. In terms of the surname it's:

"a nickname for a gullible person from Anglo-Norman French gobiun 'gudgeon' a partly Latinized form of Anglo-Norman French goujon (from Latin gobionem)." Ancestry

Which is sort of interesting, but bears no relation to why I chose Gubbins for this oddments piece. I had noticed 'gubbins' in all the synonyms for oddments over time, but it was just today that I discovered, that not only does it mean 'stuff' but it also has a food connection.

The word comes from the old French 'gobbon' which meant a piece or a slice and which is related to the old English 'gobbet' and which eventually became 'gubbins'. It's not much in use these days although it seems to be in use in the Midlands still. The slang word 'gob' for mouth incidentally comes from a totally different source. Isn't language a wonderful thing?

So 'stuff' and apparently it particularly used to mean a particular kind of stuff - fish waste. The stuff that is left over from cleaning fish. Hence the second picture.

Of course when I found my picture of fish waste I also found an enormous amount of stuff on fish waste. Mostly horrific:

"it has been estimated that about two-thirds of the total amount of fish is discarded as waste, creating huge economic and environmental concerns." Marine Drugs/National Library of Medicine

but also potentially if the political and economic will is there, a resource:

"Existing fish byproducts can be captured and turned into new ones. Fish heads, fins, and bones from the fishing industry are already a source of fertiliser and feed; now innovators are finding uses for everything from fish skin for burn treatments, and crustacean waste to make biodegradable packaging." Emma Bryce/The Guardian

Biofuel I saw was one - using the waste from fish farms - huge apparently - to provide their fuel.

I don't think I'm up to a longer look at this today though, so I will add it to my list of potential subjects. Today we are into the 'various things that are not important' definition.

A can of creamed corn

Yesterday I said I was pondering on what to substitute for bread as the helpmeet for our reheated corn chowder. Shortly after writing that I found on the web the simplest recipe I have ever seen:

"1x can of creamed corn; Self raising flour. As much as you need to make a dough; Pinch of salt. Mix and put it in the oven for around 25 minutes on 200 degrees celsius."

Hey presto - the above finished and absolutely delicious loaf of corn bread. Ok I added some sliced spring onions, a bit of crushed chilli, chopped parsley and a tiny bit of paprika, but that only took a moment more. Oh and I grated some cheese on top. The point is that from a tin of creamed corn and very little effort something 5* was produced. Obviously you can vary what you put into the mix - if anything at all. I won't claim the credit really because it was a result of one simple recipe and years of knowing what goes with what.

I cannot now remember why I had a tin of creamed corn in my pantry. I actually only used half of it in the bread. The rest went into the soup. I'm a bit of a snob about tins of processed food like this but I must have got it to replace the tin I had bought to make something. Which I would only have done if what I had made was worth making again. It would have been from a recipe because, as I said, I do not normally have such things. Generally speaking the only things I buy in tins are sardines, salmon (for fish cakes), tuna, beans, baked beans and tomatoes. Maybe I should look for some other treasure trove things.

You can of course make your own creamed corn. This too is simple:

"Fry a load of corn with some onion, pour in milk and cream, stir it together and you’re done. Beautiful." Stuart Heritage/The Guardian

But even Nigel says why bother:

"Sure, it is no big deal to slice the kernels off a cob, but creamed corn is one of those mysterious things I get an occasional craving for - and we all know the unwritten law of a craving is that you never, ever have its subject to hand. This, presumably, is why all-night garages sell food. I am not quite as anti the tinned or frozen corn niblet as some. I don't see the point of making a fuss when it is only going to end up in a sea of double cream and thyme." Nigel Slater

Ottolenghi seems to go for the frozen variety though, so that long ago recipe can't have been from him.

There are lots of other things you can do with a can of creamed corn of course. Just trawl the net.

Chip omelette

Still sort of on rubbish food Rachel Roddy dedicated one of her Guardian columns to a quintessentially English and also very infra dig dish - a chip omelette. A cheesy omelette stuffed with leftover chips from the fish and chips shop. Are there ever any left over one has to ask?

She was not really presenting this as a gourmet dish, it was more a reminder of her youth in London. One has to wonder whether she was feeling down when she wrote it because, in her introduction she says "I am sure it made me happy at a time when I rarely was" - and then in her conclusion she says that she has made it three times in the past week! Well I suppose she could have been testing the recipe - although somewhat like the cornbread, it's barely a recipe:

"I broke, whisked, poured and tilted the eggs around my flatmate’s Danish frying pan. Then, while the eggs were still wet enough for sticking, threw in the chips. Chips which, a few minutes before, I had brought back to life in the brown and cream microwave, an unrivalled way to reheat fish-and-chip-shop-chips because the thing most complained about (“it makes them soggy”) is exactly what you are after – ping!"

Well I suppose it's slightly healthier than the chip butty.

Before I leave this piece of 'gubbins' however, and just to prove how writing this blog is such a joy in the sense that you discover all sorts of weird and wonderful things just by chance - here is another chip omelette. But it's the other kind of chips - the ones that come out of a packet, crisp and salty. And I could go on about how the same word came to mean two quite different things. To me these are crisps, and you need the two words, because they are not the same thing. As I said language is a wonderful and sometimes confusing thing.

Anyway apparently there is a popular tv or streaming series called The Bear and in one episode somebody made this boursin stuffed potato crisp omelette. It seems to be a bit of a sensation - heaps of people have recipes or pictures of it. And boursin is another kind of despised cheese as well isn't it?

And here's another thing - Ferran Adrià - yes he the ultra gourmet chef of El Bulli also has a chip omelette. Alas the recipe is behind a pay wall but you can also find one from José Andrés - another top chef - which looks similar. This one is more of a frittata than an omelette. So we evolve from chips from a chippy and quick omelette, through one with different chips and cheese to top of the tree frittata. The world of food is truly wonderful. I'm sure you could drag this into the food curriculum somehow - language, industrialisation, heritage, health, history, biography, psychology ...

Peas on toast

It seems that long-lived craze - smashed avocado - is on the way out. Well at least in Britain, where avocados have to be imported and are even more expensive than here, the pea growers are touting that the avocado's days are numbered. According to The Guardian: "The hashtag #peasontoast has had more than 3.3m views on TikTok". It makes sense, although it's a totally different flavour - indeed more of a flavour. I wonder if that's an advantage or a disadvantage? So I checked out a couple of Australian food sources - Coles on the left and Women's Weekly on the right, and indeed the recipes are creeping in. As I don't do the breakfast/lunch café thing I couldn't tell you if the phenomenon has hit here as yet - just letting you know. Could be good.

So there you are - gubbins - stuff - rubbish - life, the universe and everything, from youthful sorrow in a bedsit, to high end experimentation with food.


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