Stop and Smell the Bacon

Bacon. It’s one of life’s fatty little joys. Especially when you have fresh tomatoes from your own garden and can combine the two for BLT’s.

That’s what we had for supper the other night. Well, actually, since I discovered at the last minute that we were out of lettuce, we had BT’s. Close enough. It’s the bacon and tomatoes that matter the most, anyway. (I briefly considered substituting spinach, but somehow BST’s just wouldn’t have been the same.)

Anyway, while I was cooking, I had one of those stop-and-smell-the-bacon moments of pondering, and the significant life question that crossed my mind was, “What in the heck is a rasher?”

As in a “rasher of bacon.” It’s one of those descriptions that shows up now and then, particularly for those of us who read British mysteries. But how much bacon is in a rasher?

Inquiring minds wanted to know. So, as soon as they had chomped down their BT and wiped the bacon grease off their fingers, inquiring minds went off to look it up.

Three dictionaries later, inquiring minds were confused. All three sources defined rasher as both A, a thin slice of bacon, and B, a serving of several slices of bacon. Apparently, a “rasher” could consist of several rashers. None of them knew where the term “rasher” came from, either. That was certainly enlightening.

At least most the other odd terms of weights and measures we use have some precision. Take “teaspoon” and “tablespoon,” for example. Any good cookbook will tell you that a tablespoon equals half an ounce and there are three teaspoons in a tablespoon.

Of course, that doesn’t explain why they have the names they do. When I was a kid, it never made sense to me that the spoons we put on the table at mealtimes were “teaspoons,” while the only time we used “tablespoons” for eating was when we had soup. Which is probably why we called them “soup spoons.”

It wasn’t until I got a little older and started reading British mysteries that I figured out some people used the larger spoons for eating and the smaller ones for stirring their tea. Today, while I am no longer confused if I see people actually using a tablespoon to eat something besides soup, I still don’t do so myself. And I don’t care who you are, using a tablespoon for ice cream is just not right.

Maybe it’s because they use large spoons at the table that the Brits measure their weight in “stones.” Or maybe it’s just that, when your money is “pounds,” you don’t want to confuse your net worth and your net weight. The dictionaries were not enlightening on this point. They did, however, inform me that a stone equals 14 pounds.

Now that’s a unit of measure any experienced dieter could get used to. Just consider the difference between, “I gained half a stone,” and, “I gained seven pounds.”

But whether you measure your weight in pounds or stones, I do know one thing. If you don’t want too much of it, don’t get rash with your rashers of bacon.

Categories: Food and Drink, Words for Nerds | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Stop and Smell the Bacon

  1. Frank

    I was happy to see your column again. I thought that the Brits now went to the metric system and no longer use the word, stone, for weight. I also wonder why the term, hands, is used to measure horses. I also wonder why the USA and some wee country in Africa are the only countries that still have not adopted the metric system. I wonder how much does a rasher weigh, in pounds or kilograms.

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