What’s in a name? For the classic British steamed pudding called spotted dick, quite a bit. Recently, there were a flurry of headlines reporting that the name of the dessert was being changed to “spotted Richard” in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons restaurant. But the name game may not be as simple as all that.
The name spotted dick has a confusing origin story to begin with. “Spotted” makes sense, as it refers to the dried fruit dotted throughout the dish, but “dick”? Some say it’s a jumbled version of the final syllable of “pudding,” as if it were “pud-dick,” but there seems to be no real consensus regarding whether this is true. And especially to Americans, that short four-letter word that was once a perfectly acceptable nickname for comic-strip detective Dick Tracy or football player Dick Butkus now brings mostly snickers and giggles.
So it’s easy to believe that restaurant staff at the U.K.’s House of Commons might not want to use the dish’s name. According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, staffers in the Strangers’ Dining Room, a restaurant used by members of Parliament, have begun calling the dessert “spotted Richard” so as not to use the embarrassing word.
“Four staff waiting on tables in the restaurant confirmed the name change when approached,” The Telegraph reported. “They were less forthcoming when asked for an explanation, stating only that ‘Richard’ was less likely to cause a stir with guests.”
A spokesperson for the House of Commons told The Daily Meal in an email that “Spotted dick is one of the many traditional hot puddings we serve in our outlets, and there are no changes to the way it is referred to on menus.”
However, that covers only the printed menus. But when asked if staff are in fact using a more, uh, palatable name with diners, the House of Commons had no comment.
Spotted dick isn’t the only food item out there with a bizarre name. Sweetbreads are neither sweet nor bread, and you don’t even want to know about Rocky Mountain oysters and these 11 other foods that aren't what they sound like.