Jump to content

Scouse (food)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Region or stateEngland
Main ingredientsBeef or lamb, root vegetables

Scouse is a type of stew typically made from chunks of meat (usually beef or lamb) with potatoes, carrots, and onion. It is particularly associated with the port of Liverpool; hence, the inhabitants of that city are often referred to as "scousers". The word "scouse" comes from lobscouse, a stew commonly eaten by sailors throughout northern Europe in the past, and surviving in different forms there today.



Scouse is particularly associated with the port of Liverpool. The recipe for scouse is fairly broad; it was traditionally made from leftovers and whatever was in season. Guardian food writer Felicity Cloake describes scouse as being similar to Irish stew or Lancashire hotpot, though generally using beef rather than lamb as the meat.[1] While ingredients can vary, those essentials are potatoes, carrots, onions, and chunks of meat, with beef favoured over lamb. These are simmered together for several hours. The meat may be seared first, then reserved while some of the potatoes are boiled; as they break up, thickening the mix, the meat and the rest of the potatoes are added, and the stew finished off.[1][2]

A survey by The Liverpool Echo in 2018 confirmed that for the majority of cooks the basic ingredients are potatoes, carrots, onion and chunks of meat, though many advocated the addition of a stock cube, and a few also added other ingredients, such as peas, lentils or sweet potato, and herbs including rosemary, parsley and basil.[3] The choice of meat varied: some cooks did not stipulate a particular meat; among those who did, beef was chosen rather than lamb by a majority of nearly two to one.[3][n 1]

A dish of scouse, with beetroot and crusty bread.

Although some argue that anything other than beef, potatoes, carrots, onion is not scouse, others point out that, as a thrift dish, it will contain "whatever veg you had... and...the cheapest cuts of meat".[3] Some recipes suggest including marrowbones to thicken the stew.[4] Proportions vary from equal amounts of meat and vegetables to a 1:5 proportion between meat and potato.[2] A meatless version, known as "blind scouse", is also recorded, for vegetarians, or when people were too poor to afford meat.[5][6] Scouse is generally served with pickled red cabbage or beetroot and crusty bread.[2][6]



Scouse is strongly associated with the port of Liverpool and its hinterland in the northwest of England. Other parts of the country were slower to begin growing potatoes, but they were cultivated in Lancashire from the late 17th century onwards. By the late 18th century the potato-based lobscouse – by then also known simply as scouse – had become a traditional dish of the region.[7] A 1797 description records that potatoes were "peeled, or rather scraped, raw; chopped, and boiled together with a small quantity of meat cut into very small pieces. The whole of this mixture is then formed into a hash, with pepper, salt, onions, etc., and forms a cheap and nutritive dish".[8] An earlier reference from 1785 refers to "LOBS-COUSE, a dish much eaten at sea, composed of salt beef, [ship's] biscuit, and onions, well peppered and stewed together."[9] The same recipe was used by nineteenth-century sailors.[10] In the poorest areas of Liverpool, when funds ran too low for the purchase of even the cheapest cuts of meat, "blind scouse" would be made, using only vegetables.[11]

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) states that "scouse" is a shortened form of "lobscouse"[12] a sailors dish from the 18th century. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, lobscouse "almost certainly has its origins in the Baltic ports, especially those of Germany",[13] although it offers no evidence to support this assertion. The claim is repeated in a number of sources, though again, no reason given for this belief. Contrariwise, Crowley points out that lobscouse (as "lobs course") is mentioned by Smollett in 1750, while Friedrich Kluge dates its first appearance in German in 1878, and concludes the usage spread from Britain to northern Europe rather than vice versa.[14]

Similar dishes are traditional in countries around the North Sea, such as Norway (lapskaus), Sweden (lapskojs), Finland (lapskoussi), Denmark, (skipperlabskovs), and northern Germany (Labskaus),[13] though these differ from the original lobscouse and from each other. Swedish Lapskojs and Norwegian Lapskaus is a stew, like scouse, while German Labskaus is a form of hash. However, lobscouse is also different from scouse, being a type of gruel.

Origin of name


According to the OED "scouse" is a shortened form of "lobscouse"[12] and has also been written as "lopscourse", "lobscourse", "lobskous", "lobscouce", and "lap's course". Its oldest quote is from 1707, by the satirist Edward Ward: "He has sent the Fellow ... to the Devil, that first invented Lobscouse."[15]

The first known use of the term "lobscouse" is dated 1706, according to Webster's Dictionary.[16] Tobias Smollett refers to "lob's course" in 1750.[17] The roots of the word are unknown.[16] The OED states that the origin is unknown, and goes on to compare the word to loblolly, which means a "thick 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'".[18]

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.[19] 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 lapskaus and Danish as lobskous.[20]

The similarities with labs kauss in Latvian and labas kaušas in Lithuanian is called gobbledygook (Kauderwelsch) of the mind in Der Spiegel by Petra Foede.[21] Foede translates Labs kausis to means a "good plate" in Latvian, and says that in Lithuanian they use labas káuszas for a "good plate".[n 2][21] 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 has been adopted in German as Kausche or Kauszel which means wooden jug, pitcher or drinking bowl.[25]

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.[26]: 355  Reich does not cite any sources to his claim.[n 3]

Global Scouse Day


Since 2000 there has been an annual International or Global Scouse Day held, where bars, cafes and restaurants in Liverpool and around the world put scouse on the menu for the day, raising funds for charities.[28][29]



Lobscouse is also remembered in other parts of the northwest. In the Potteries, a similar stew is known as "lobby",[30] and people from Leigh, Greater Manchester, are known as "lobby-gobblers".[31] In North Wales the full form is retained as "lobsgows" (Welsh: lapsgóws)[32][33]

A version of scouse has been known on the Atlantic coast of Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador, from at least 1792. It is described as a sea dish of minced and salted beef, crumbled sea biscuit, potatoes and onions.[34]

See also



  1. ^ A small minority used pork or tofu.[3]
  2. ^ Schüssel is a "vertieftes, schalenförmiges Gefäß mit flachem Boden" according to DWDS[22] In LEO Schüssel is translated as bowl, dish, pan or charger.[23] In dict.cc Schüssel is translated bowl, dish, pan, tureen, basin and platter.[24]
  3. ^ By the end of the 18th century the term "lobscouse" had been shortened to "scouse" in Liverpudlian usage. In his book The State of the Poor: or a History of the Labouring Classes in England (1797), Sir Frederick Eden cites a report from the early 1790s listing expenditure on food in the Liverpool poorhouse. It included "Beef, 101 lbs. [46 kg] for scouse … 14 Measures potatoes for scouse [420 lb or 190 kg]; and Onions for ditto [28 lb or 13 kg]".[27]


  1. ^ a b Cloake, Felicity (30 October 2019). "How to cook the perfect scouse – recipe". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 May 2020.
  2. ^ a b c O'Grady, Paul. "Paul O'Grady's Scouse". nigella.com. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Davis, Laura (27 February 2018). "Revealed: Liverpool's favourite Scouse ingredients". Liverpool Echo'. Archived from the original on 18 December 2019. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  4. ^ "Lobscouse casserole". The Hairy Bikers. BBC Food. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  5. ^ "Blind scouse". peskyrecipes.com. 18 January 2019. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Blind scouse". foodofengland.co.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  7. ^ Wilson 1991, p. 218.
  8. ^ Pike 2014, p. 160.
  9. ^ Grose 1785, p. 104.
  10. ^ Draper 2001, p. 15.
  11. ^ Crowley 2017, p. 35.
  12. ^ a b Scouse. Oxford English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  13. ^ a b Shipperbottom 2014, p. 472.
  14. ^ Crowley 2012, pp. 157–158.
  15. ^ "lobscouse, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  16. ^ a b "lobscouse". merriam-webster. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 9 March 2013.
  17. ^ Smollett 1905, p. 59.
  18. ^ "loblolly, n." Oxford English Dictionary. Archived from the original on 22 October 2020. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  19. ^ 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. S2CID 62272098. 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.]
  20. ^ Falk, Hjalmar; Torp, Alf (1903). "Hug". Etymologisk Ordbog over det norske og det danske Sprog (in Norwegian). Kristiania: Aschehoug. p. 439.
  21. ^ a b Petra Foede (27 August 2010). "Hamburger Labskaus. Heißer Brei mit Ei". Spiegel Online (in German). Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  22. ^ "Schüssel, die". DWDS – Digitales Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache. Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2018.)
  23. ^ "Schüssel". LEO GmbH. Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  24. ^ "Deutsch-Englisch-Wörterbuch Deutsch-Englisch-Übersetzung für: Schüssel". dict.cc. Archived from the original on 31 October 2017. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  25. ^ Bauer, Gerhard (2005). "Baltismen im ostpreußischen Deutsch Hermann Frischbiers "Preussisches Wörterbuch" als volkskundliche Quelle" (PDF). Annaberger Annalen (in German). 13: 5–82. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. 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.
  26. ^ Konrad Reich [in German]; Martin Pegel. "Labskaus". Himmelsbesen über weißen Hunden (in German). Berlin: transpress VEB Verlag für Verkehrswesen. pp. 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.
  27. ^ Crowley 2012, p. 158.
  28. ^ "Global Scouse Day 2020: Everything you need to know". The Guide. Liverpool. 17 July 2020. Archived from the original on 17 July 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  29. ^ "Global Scouse Day". Global Scouse Day. Archived from the original on 30 September 2020. Retrieved 22 October 2020.
  30. ^ "Staffordshire Lobby". allrecipes.co.uk. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  31. ^ McAlpine, Fraser. "From "Monkey-hangers" to "Spireites": Affectionate nicknames for Townspeople". BBC America. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  32. ^ "Lobscaws and Llymru: Welsh food and recipes". The National Library of Wales. 22 April 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  33. ^ "lobscaws". kimkat.org. An Internet dictionary of Welsh for speakers of English. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  34. ^ Clarke 2010, p. 112.