English fodder

“How could you dish the dirt about a language that is full of beans? You must be nutty as a fruitcake,” I protested. It was a retort to my friend's charge that the English language betrays the English people's fixation on food and eating. Yet, once I regained my cool, I realised that if one looked at the words I used to register my protest, it bore out my friend's theory about the English language.

I chewed over what he said and did a bit of digging, for the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
It was not a piece of cake, but I discovered that my friend, indeed, knew his onions. That is when I could piece together an English 'sham' sandwich with meaty fillings.

Fish and (potato) chips, bacon and eggs, and , of course, the tea are integral to the English chow. And, maybe, to the English polity.

For while the Tories have bigger fish to fry and liberals have had their chips at the hustings, the tough eggs in the kitchen cabinet are busy trying to save the bacon. The opposition, to whom scandals and gossip are meat and drink, cooks up a political hot potato to raise a storm in a teacup, leaving the treasury bench with egg on their faces.

When the English football team brings home the bacon, the fans go bananas. But when the rivals make mincemeat of them, the players do not fast in penance but eat pie, albeit a humble one. Despite the beefed up security, the football hooligans in mutton chop whiskers run amok around spaghetti junctions turning the town into dog's dinner. The tabloids give the team a good roasting, revealing juicy bits in spicy details, declaring them as dead mutton.

The English know which side of the bread is buttered. While the IRA and Ulster Unionists eat each other for breakfast, the English remain as cool as cucumber letting the factions stew in their own juices. But they know when their goose is cooked. So when they have no more stomach for violence, they chew the fat across the negotiating table, and, in a hamhanded fashion, dish out goodies in the form of plum jobs for the Sinn Fein and the orangemen.

By the way, do you know that toast is something you eat as well drink? Or that a man can either eat or marry a peach? Or that the stupid person can either be a puddinghead or noodle? And how about producing cheese from the milk of human kindness? Crumbs!

Finally, what is sauce for the English goose is sauce for the Indian gander. Therefore, it is no wonder that the decades of English rule have left us a creamy tradition that that eggs us on to curry favour with the powers that be and get on the gravy train in order to realise our champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

But then, one need not teach one's grandmother to suck eggs.
--K J Shenoy

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