All hail bubble and squeak! – “a truly universal dish”


If you dig a pond, you will at some point find frogs in it.

And if you build a baseball stadium, within hours Kevin Costner will almost certainly turn up – uninvited.

This is proof of the fact that if you set the correct conditions for something to happen, it will happen. Bubble and squeak works in much the same way.

The dish, for the uninitiated, is a carefully curated concoction of potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts and peas in varying proportions. The name comes from the sound made by the cabbage sizzling in the pan.

But for it to come about a very specific set of conditions need to be met.

To achieve what scientists call a bubble and squeak ‘event’, you will require a congealing left-over roast dinner, a distinct lack of any other decent food in the fridge and a tipsy ‘have-a-go’ chef.

If these three pillars of bubble and squeak are in place, then inevitably the frying pan will come out and in will go bacon, garlic, cabbage and spuds.

And don’t think that this is something that is particularly English – because all over the globe there are left over dinners, empty food cupboards and enthusiastic hung-over cooks.

It’s a truly universal dish.

And depending where on the surface of the globe you happen to wake up, your bubble and squeak will be referred to as Panacketty, Rumbledethumps, Colcannon, Stoemp, Calentao, Biksemad, Stemmelkort, Stamppot, Trinxat or Aloo Tikki.

And although the ingredients may vary, the principle remains the same… that food from the night before, given time to steep in its own juices, is not only that much tastier but so easy to cook that you can do it at the same time as blearily squinting at a newspaper.