• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


Worldwide Gastronomy Habits & Trends

Is it food, or…? Let’s discover the imam fainted, bubble and squeak, and rumbledethumps

ByDaria Malinowska

Jan 17, 2023

Humans have an ingrained desire to name things and to be named. Maybe it gives us power, or maybe our brains just like labeling because it enables the information to be stored in a more orderly manner. When we see it for the second or third time, we know what we are dealing with, and we can tell others about it.

Nevertheless, sometimes the names are so vivid that they may leave you wondering what exactly happened that inspired people to create them. We’ve already discovered the vividly named Spotted Dick. And now it is time to go further and uncover what the world of peculiarly named dishes has in store.

The imam fainted (İmam bayıldı)

Ask any Turkish person (or Greek) you know, and they will probably tell you that this dish is the pinnacle of deliciousness. At least when it comes to the eggplant dishes. In fact, it is so tasty that the imam who ate them fainted. Why?

There are many versions of this story. According to one of them, it was the exquisite taste of the dish that knocked him out. Another suggests that, in fact, it was the cost of the olive oil that his wife used to prepare this dish. Whether it was delight or shock, İmam bayıldı for sure made an impression on the poor man. But what is this dish exactly?

Basically, it’s an eggplant stuffed with onions and tomatoes and braised slowly in copious amounts of extra virgin oil. During the braising, the eggplants soak up the olive oil turning the flesh into a luscious and filling mass. Therefore, never skimp on the olive oil! When it comes to the stuffing, the ratio of tomato to onion should be even. Some recipes, in contrast, say that the stuffing should consist primarily of the latter rather than the other way around. Curiously, no spices are added to the traditional recipe. All you need is sugar, salt, and pepper.

You can serve İmam bayıldı at room temperature as one of several small dishes, as a main course with rice or bulgur, or alongside some protein. To truly savor the taste, avoid any spicy or overwhelmingly flavorful sides.

Bubble and squeak

From Turkey, we now travel to the British Isles, the home of bubble and squeak. No, it’s not a pair of cute small animals or a set of cuddly kids’ toys. It is a pan-fried hearty mash, a mixture of vegetables that typically contains potatoes and cabbage, however, other vegetables can also be added. Simple and tasty. But what’s with the name? Well, to understand its origins, you would have to prepare this dish yourself!

As a plethora of sources claims, bubble and squeak is commonly linked with the sounds the mixture makes when it hits the pan. However, some assume that the name bubble and squeak refers to potatoes and cabbage, the two main ingredients. Nevertheless, it is a dead end since the original version of this meal did not contain any potatoes but leftover boiled beef. It was a simple yet effective way to repurpose the meat cuts from the Sunday roast.

The economic crisis caused by World War II is what we can blame (or thank) for the present version. Potatoes were cheaper, so they replaced the meat. Also, they act as a binding agent holding all or the remaining vegetables together. Ok, so they altered the ingredients but not the name? Exactly. It appears that bubble and squeak were just too established already for it to be changed.


Since we are in Britain, we need to also mention Rumbledethumps, a breakfast casserole that some consider the Scottish version of the aforementioned English bubble and squeak. It consists of mashed potatoes and cabbage baked in a dish with generous amounts of Cheddar cheese on the top. Some recipes include bacon, onion, or leek on their ingredients list.

After it’s ready, you may enjoy it as a side with fried eggs and bacon, or as a part of the traditional full Scottish breakfast (sausages, eggs, tomato, potato scones, haggis, and oatcakes).

Similarly to bubble and squeak, it’s a dish made out of leftovers with potato and cabbage as the star ingredients.

Although a bit odd, the name seems to be rather straightforward: it’s a combination of the words rumble and thump. Apparently, the preparation of this dish used to be physically demanding. This thesis supports the old sense of rumbled from the Oxford English Dictionary since it refers to scrambled or mashed foodstuff.



And what about you? Do you know any weirdly named food? Let us know in the comments!

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