Of smoked Kippers and going for Pudding

Of smoked Kippers and going for Pudding,

Years back I spend some time in the UK. It was the year when the Dutch won the World soccer Cup or was it the Euro Cup? I was staying in London’s Sheppard Bush not far from the station. I took the train to the City several times. My fellow travellers were not the most boisterous and generally an icy silence prevailed. Life seemed grim or perhaps my fellow travellers were worried about losing their ‘privacy status’, a much beloved characteristic of so many that are brought up fearing what we might think of each other if we give in to spontaneity and exuberance.

During that stay, I took the train North-East to Yorkshire and stayed in Whitby with a very hospitable and jovial friend whom we had met earlier in Australia. She was a retired magistrate whose professional life in the past dealt with many cases of juvenile offenders steeped in petty crime. Petty crime was rampant at the time and she feared the worst for the future of England. Perhaps that was the reason for the silence on trains. Before going to Whitby I was told it was the only place in the world where kippers were still being smoked naturally. The first thing after arriving at Whitby I visited the kipper smoking factory. It coincided with a group of excitable Japanese tourists doing the same thing. They were taking close-up shots of each other holding up smoked kippers against the backdrop of the ruin of Whitby Abbey.

Smoke was embedded into me at birth. It was the first thing that greeted my tiny nostrils after my mother pushed me out. August 1940; Rotterdam was still smouldering but through sheer luck our street was spared from the nasty bombing raids. Over seventy years later, I am still here waxing about smoked kippers at Whitby. Life can be so wonderful.

It was some years after that auspicious but smoky birth that my parents introduced us kids to the hearty and nourishing delights of huge portions of pea soup with smoked sausage (rookworst). If ever I remember childhood foods it would have to be that dish. It was a simple dish. Mum would soak the peas overnight and boil them up with a couple of potatoes the next day. The smoked sausage, still steaming from having been brought to the boil, would triumphantly be put on the table by father; almost Moses like as if bringing us the Ten Commandments from a thunderous Mount Sinai. He would then ceremoniously cut the sausage in many portions and dear mum would make sure we all got an equal number of Rookworst pieces on our soup plates with the thick slurry of pea-soup ladled over it, drowning out the sausage pieces.

I distinctly remember the fart fests that all the boys, three or four of them, would engage in afterwards. I suppose the bedroom was the birthplace and possibly one of the first smoking facilities, now being rekindled in Whitby by my obstinate memories so many decades later.

Back now at Whitby kippers factory we bought a couple of kippers and I offered to make a pasta dish from them. After arriving back at my friend’s place I cut a brown onion, fried it up and added the fleshy kippers together with a bit of oil, some chili powder and pinch of sugar. Boiled the pasta, added the kipper sauce and bingo, a beautiful dish. She offered afterwards to take me out for ‘pudding’. Taking and going somewhere for ‘pudding’ in Yorkshire really means a visit to a café for a nice cup-o-tea and a piece of cake. It was lovely.

I remember it well.

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8 Responses to “Of smoked Kippers and going for Pudding”

  1. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Ahhh! Kippers! What joy reading this post has brought to me – smoked sausage too and pea soup and farts, but I shall talk about the kippers first. I’m so thrilled that you like kippers Gerard, they are not everyones cup of tea you know. kippers were a real treat when I was growing up and weirdly, Irishman and I were only talking about them the other day (as expats are prone to do when millions of miles away from the comforts of ‘home’ food) but I digress…I have very fond memories of visiting Craster on the Northumberland coast when my children were young. One of the highlights was visiting Robsons kipper smokehouse and watching how they convert an ordinary looking herring into a kipper. I hope you don’t mind if I share the link to their page on here?


    I think your pasta dish including kippers is ingenious. Did you visit the Magpie fish and chip shop when you were in Whitby? I lived in N.Yorkshire for almost 20 years and visited Whitby many times. Every attempt at lunch at The Magpie was thwarted as the queues were so long. Their F&C’s are legendary apparently!

    On the subject of farts and pea soup. My mother was a superb farter but she almost killed herself when a trick went badly wrong. We were in Holland staying at the farm, and one evening she made a particularly potent batch of pea soup for supper. After dinner she sat down in her chair by the fire and then asked me to fetch her lighter. Being the obedient and loving daughter that I was, I went and fetched it for her but on arriving back by her side wondered why she had her legs wide open? Within seconds she had fired up the lighter and let out an explosive fart – the incendiary nature of her gases caused her knickers to burst into flames and she fled screaming to the bathroom. I’m pretty sure that I’ve told Andrew this story hence our joke ‘BMB’ or burn my bush when we find something particularly funny. LOL is so yesterday you know! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Well, that’s amazing Lottie. I do know that lots of farms in Holland with thatched roofs would burn down in inexplicable circumstances during winters. Winters are also peak times for Pea soup and rookworst. The Dutch are known farters… so… draw you own conclusions.
    A family that farts together stays together and it was the case with our family. Even today, none of my brothers and sister except one have split up from spouses. With H and eight brothers and sister also all still together. This is a statistical aberration,way outside the norm. What is this telling us?
    I have yet to hear marriage councillors advising couples to share their farts more intimately and get closer.
    Have I missed my calling?


  3. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Lord have mercy on my time of day. Lottie made my day. I laughed so much I now have pains in my abdomen. I’ve never eaten kippers. And now that I am old I not dare try them since these little jewels are salty. I can’t eat any salt. Gee it’s hell to get old.

    But from the sound of things all that gas passing is quite benefical if one wants to either start a fire or keep a marriage intact.

    And Gerard. If you should ever want to say “fart” in a more deicate manner you can use the word flatus instead. 🙂

    But back to the reason for my hysterical laughter. Lottie is over the top funny. If she ever decides to write a book, I virtually guarantee that it will be a hit.

    But the same thing goes for you as well. The English and in your case (Dutch) are so dang funny.

    Have I made my brownie points yet? 🙂


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, spot on petspeopleandlife; Lottie just about caused a heart attack and the ambulance was on stand-by. Laughter is good for the soul and I feel re-born. Who cares about politics when you have a good supply of humour?
      Yes, I’ll use flatus next time or just simply flat. The Dutch oven was full of ‘flat’ last time, for example.


      • petspeopleandlife Says:

        Gerard I was joking about flat us versus fart. You can use fart any ole time. Tis fine with me. But you have made me laugh and giggle all over again. When I was growing up I learned from my mother to call older men,. “old farts” but of course that was behind their back. However when she was angry with my Dad she called him either an old goat or an old fart. 🙂


  4. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I hope your mother did not suffer anything more damaging than flaming knickers during her “tooting” incident1 Not only very funny post and replies, but split pea soup time is arriving soon here, so I will have to drag out the soup kettle.


  5. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, ‘make pea soup instead of war’ ought to reverberate around the world. Can you imagine?


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    The noise would ne deafening.


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