Don’t let Yo’ Mamma Raise No Puddin’Heads or Namby Pambies!

Henry Carey

Seems like lately we’ve seen a lot of puddingheads, both near and far, and probably voted for a few unbeknowingst to us. In my wanderings, looking for historical holiday recipes reflecting the cultures of the settlers of this area, I came across a fantastic satire from the early 18th century which on second read feels uncomfortably familiar. Attributed to Henry Carey, the poet (1687-1743), he slams the health system :o) and the puddings and dumplings he refers to stand for political sleight of hand ( corruption).  What do the historians say; history repeats itself? A little piece of trivia here, Carey also invented the noun “namby-pamby” which came into popular use meaning a weak and vascillating man.

‘The Head of Man is like a Pudding; and whence have all Rhymes, Poems, Plots, and Inventions sprung – but from that same Pudding? What is Poetry but a Pudding of Words?

The Physicians, though they cry out so much against Cooks and Cookery, yet are but Cooks themselves; with this difference only – the Cook’s Pudding lengthens life – the Physician’s shortens it: so that we live and die by pudding – For what is a Clyster but a Bag Pudding – a Pill but a Dumpling – or a Bolus but a Tanzy, though not altogether so toothsome. In a word, Physic is only a Puddingizing, or Cookery of Drugs – the law is but a Cookery of Quibbles.

The Universe itself is but a Pudding of Elements, ­ Empires, Kingdoms, States, and Republics, are but Puddings of People differently mixed up.

The Celestial and Terrestrial Orbs are deciphered to us by a pair of Globes, or Mathematical Puddings.

The success of War, and the fate of Monarchies (Presidencies?), are entirely dependent on Puddings and Dumplings – for what else are Cannon-balls but Military Puddings, or Bullets but Dumplings – only with this difference, they do not sit so well on the stomach as a good Marrow Pudding or Bread Pudding. In short, there is nothing valuable in Nature but what more or less has an allusion to Pudding or Dumpling.

Some swallow every thing whole and unmixed, so that it may rather be called a Heap than a Pudding.- Others are so squeamish, that the greatest mastership in Cookery is required to make the Pudding palatable : – the Suet, which others gape and swallow by gobs, must for these puny stomachs be minced to atoms, the Plumbs must be picked with the utmost care, and every ingredient proportioned to the greatest nicety, or it will never go down. From a learned Dissertation on Dumplings’

From: Henry Carey, A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling; its Dignity, Antiquity and Excellence with a Word upon Pudding London 1726

 If you want to read the receipt describing the forerunner of the Christmas Pudding, Go to the “Let’s Burn Something ” page. A lot of good things there!!!

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