In a recent interview, I was asked for “one of the most interesting things” I’ve learned in my historical research. The following answer instantly sprang to mind as being my favorite discovery:
I just love research! Discovering little historical tidbits feeds my inner nerd. I can’t begin to tell you how tired my family is of hearing “Guess what I learned today?” So much eye rolling!
But one thing, in particular, I found fascinating came from an 1800s play (the title of which I have presently forgotten). The main character went into a taproom and ordered his food and drink “hot and hot.” Instantly, I wondered what that meant. Did he want hot ale, too? Was this a popular figure of speech? Inquiring minds…
I searched online and found nothing. I went to the library database and found nothing. Then I asked my friend and local research librarian, but she didn’t know either. She came up with the same results that I had. However, she had a secret weapon that I didn’t have—connections. She knew a food historian.
This “hot and hot” became such a puzzle for all of us that, after compiling research, the food historian blogged about her findings. So cool!
In the end, she found that asking for your food and drink to come “hot and hot,” meant that you wanted everything when it was ready. No waiting. In other words, bring the ale now. And if the broth is done, then bring it to me, as well, while the kitchen prepares my leg o’ mutton, aspic and eggs. Um… yum?
Or, to put it in a modern context… If you make pancakes in a skillet, one by one, then instead of waiting to compile a short stack for your family, you’d serve each steaming flapjack—butter melting, syrup oozing—one at a time, and fork at the ready.
So, the next time you’re at IHOP, pound your fist on the table hard enough to jangle the silverware, and tell the server that you want your rasher of bacon, scrambled eggs and each fluffy pancake “hot and hot”… because you’re worth it. ; )