Scouse (food)

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Place of originLiverpool, United Kingdom
Main ingredientslamb or beef

Scouse is a type of lamb or beef stew. The word comes from "lobscouse", [1] a stew commonly eaten by sailors throughout northern Europe, which became popular in seaports such as Liverpool.

Origin of the dish[edit]

The Oxford Companion to Food claims that lobscouse "almost certainly has its origins in the Baltic ports, especially those of Germany".[2] Similar dishes are traditional in countries around the North Sea, such as Norway (lapskaus), Sweden (lapskojs), Denmark (skipperlabskovs meaning "skipper's lobscouse") and northern Germany (Labskaus).[2] Another theory posits a Low German origin from lappen (dewlap) and kaus (bowl).[3]

Origin of the word[edit]

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), "scouse" is a shortened form of "lobscouse"[1] and has also been written "lopscourse", "lobscourse", "lobskous", "lobscouce" and "lap's course". Its oldest quote is from 1707, by the satirist Edward Ward: "He has sent the the Devil, that first invented Lobscouse.".[4]

The first known use of the term "lobscouse" is dated 1706, according to Webster's Dictionary.[5] Tobias Smollett refers to "lob's course" in 1750.[6] The roots of the word are unknown.[5]

The OED states that the origin is unknown, and goes on to compare the word to loblolly, which means a "[t]hick gruel or spoon-meat, frequently referred to as a rustic or nautical dish or simple medicinal remedy; burgoo" and "perhaps [is] onomatopoeic: compare the dialectal lob ‘to bubble while in process of boiling, said esp. of porridge’, also ‘to eat or drink up noisily’".[7]

Friedrich Kluge also states that the origin of lobscouse is unknown, and that it was loaned to German in the 19th century where it was called labskaus.[8] Hjalmar Falk and Alf Torp states that lobscous originally was lob's course from a lob (a lump) and course (a dish) and that the word has travelled to Norwegian as labskaus and Danish as lobskous.[9]

The similarities with labs kauss in Latvian and labas kaušas is called gobbledygook (Kauderwelsch) of the mind in Der Spiegel by Petra Foede.[10] Foede translates Labs kausis to means a "good plate" in Latvian, and says that in Lithuanian they use labas káuszas for a "good plate".[a][10] According to Gerhard Bauer káuszas in Lithuanian means a wooden ladle or dipper or a wooden drinking bowl and is the same word as Lettish kauśis and this Baltic word have been adopted in German as Kausche or Kauszel which means wooden jug, pitcher or drinking bowl.[14]

Konrad Reich [de] claims that Labskaus stems from a combination of Lappen, Lappenstücke or Bauchlappen  [de] from the pig and a Low German word Kaus which he explains as a plate or platter and concludes that Labskaus is a paraphrase for a plate of minced pork.[15]:355 Reich does not cite any sources to his claim.[15]

Recipe and variants[edit]

Nineteenth-century sailors made lobscouse by boiling salted meat, onions and pepper, with ship's biscuit used to thicken the dish.[16] Modern English scouse resembles the Norwegian stew lapskaus, although it differs from the German labskaus which is similar to Hash. Scouse is a stew, similar to Lancashire hotpot, usually of mutton, lamb (often neck) or beef with vegetables, typically potatoes, carrots and onions. It is commonly served with pickled beetroot or pickled red cabbage and bread.

Scouse is strongly associated with Liverpool, where it remains popular and is a staple of local pub and café menus, although recipes vary greatly and often include ingredients which are inconsistent with the thrifty roots of the dish. "Scouse" has become part of a genre of slang terms which refer to people by stereotypes of their dietary habits, e.g. limey, rosbif (for the English), Frogs (for the French) and Kraut (for Germans).

In St. Helens, the dish is often called "lobbies" and uses corned beef as the meat. In Wigan "lobbies" is often made using tinned stewing steak as the meat. A further variety of the dish is "blind Scouse", made without meat, although it would likely have used cheap "soup bones" for flavouring the broth (prior to WW2, such meat bones could be sold to bone dealers after being used and for the same price as originally purchased from the butcher[citation needed]). The dish is also popular in Leigh with local residents sometimes being referred to as 'Lobbygobblers'.

A variant, lobscaws or lobsgaws, is a traditional dish in North Wales, normally made with braising or stewing steak, potatoes and any other vegetable available; when made with mutton, it is known as cawl. The food was traditionally regarded as food for farmers and the working-class people of North Wales, but is now popular as a dish throughout Wales. The recipe was brought by the canal barges[citation needed] to Stoke-on-Trent, where it is called "lobby", a shortened version of "lobscouse".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schüssel is a "vertieftes, schalenförmiges Gefäß mit flachem Boden" according to DWDS[11] In LEO Schüssel is translated as bowl, dish, pan or charger.[12] In Schüssel is translated bowl, dish, pan, tureen, basin and platter.[13]


  1. ^ a b Scouse. Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2017-05-13.
  2. ^ a b Roy Shipperbottom (2014). "lobscouse". In Davidson, Alan (ed.). The Oxford Companion to FOOD (3 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 472. ISBN 9780191040726.
  3. ^ Reich, Pagel (1988). Himmelsbesen über weißen Hunden. Verlag. p. 355.
  4. ^ "lobscouse, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b lobscouse. merriam-webster.
  6. ^ Tobias Smollett (1750). The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. p. 59.
  7. ^ "loblolly, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved 2018-05-18.
  8. ^ Friedrich Kluge (1989). "Labskaus". Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache (in German) (22 ed.). Berlin ; New York: de Gruyter. p. 423. doi:10.1515/9783110845037. ISBN 3-11-006800-1. Labskaus n. (= Seemannsgericht), nordd. Im 19. Jh. entlehnt aus ne. lobscouse, dessen Herkunft unklar ist. [The first edition of the dictionary was published in 1883.]
  9. ^ Falk, Hjalmar & Torp, Alf (1903). "Hug". Etymologisk Ordbog over det norske og det danske Sprog (in Norwegian). Kristiania: Aschehoug. p. 439.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  10. ^ a b Petra Foede (27 August 2010). "Hamburger Labskaus. Heißer Brei mit Ei". Spiegel Online (in German). Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Schüssel, die". DWDS – Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache. Retrieved 17 May 2018.)
  12. ^ "Schüssel". LEO GmbH. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  13. ^ "Deutsch-Englisch-Wörterbuch Deutsch-Englisch-Übersetzung für: Schüssel". Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  14. ^ Bauer, Gerhard (2005). "Baltismen im ostpreußischen Deutsch Hermann Frischbiers "Preussisches Wörterbuch" als volkskundliche Quelle" (PDF). Annaberger Annalen [de] (in German). 13: 5–82. Retrieved 30 May 2018. Lit. káuszas hölzerner Schöpflöffel, hölzerne Trinkschale, lett. kauśis, kausts, kausinsch Napf, Schale, Becher, estn. Kause Schale, Napf, Schüssel, sanskr. koshas Behältnis zum Auf- bewahren, Tresor. Nsslm. Th., 68. Hupel, 107. Sallmann, 19a. Grimm,Wb. V, 362. Im Brem. Kausse hölzerner Schöpflöffel, in Pommern Kowse Schale.
  15. ^ a b Konrad Reich [de] and Martin Pegel. "Labskaus". Himmelsbesen über weißen Hunden (in German). Berlin: transpress VEB Verlag für Verkehrswesen. p. 352–355. Und so «erfand» ein ideenreicher und mitfühlender Koch dies pürierte Pökelfleisch. Lappen, Lappenstücke und Bauchlappen des Rindes wirden dazu verwendet. Die erste Silbe weist darauf hin: Das niederdeutsche ‹Kaus› ist eine Schüssel, eine Schale, so daß ‹Labskaus› eine Umschreibung fur «eine Schüssel Gehacktes» ist.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  16. ^ Draper, Charla (2001). Cooking on Nineteenth Century Whaling Ships. Mankato Minnesota: Blue Earth Books. p. 15.

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