Monday, 28 July 2014

A Lovely Bit of Crumpet

Two crumpets, dripping with butter, with a cup of tea in the background
(photo by Gin Soak)


Noun. Late 17th century.
[origin uncertain: perhaps connected with crumb CRUM verb.]

1 obsolete. A thin griddle-cake. L17-M19

2 A soft cake made with flour and yeast and cooked on a griddle or other hot surface,
now usually of a type intended for toasting and eating with butter etc. M18

3 The head. Especially in barmy in the crumpet, barmy on the crumpet, wrong in the head, mad. slang. L19

4 old crumpet: used as a familiar form of address. slang. E20

5 A sexually attractive woman; women collectively; sexual intercourse with a woman. slang. Frequently considered offensive. M20

bit of crumpet, piece of crumpet a (desirable) woman.

Many years ago, while visiting friends abroad, they proudly announced on my arrival that they had stocked up on tea and crumpets. "Marvellous!" I beamed. "How jolly thoughtful of you!" But, alas, their bemused expressions belied the joke, akin to telling a Frenchman you had stocked up on baguettes and wine, or a Mexican on tortillas and guacamole. I was, it seemed, a stereotype, and it was a source of much amusement to them that I, as an Englishman, did actually drink lots of tea and enjoy a good crumpet.
(photo by Ben Ward)
The origin of the word crumpet is a bit of a mystery, although there are theories, including that it developed from the Old English crompid, meaning 'a curled up cake'. As a food, they've been around for at least a couple of hundred years, and have come to represent the very essence of English life. And if crumpets themselves are a mystery to you, you must ... you just must ... get your hands on a lovely bit o' crumpet. With each thick bite, delectably chewy and dripping with butter, you will be transported to a different time on a different plane, where childhood comforts and heavenly deliciousness reign. Oh my. I feel all funny inside. I'm happy to be a stereotype. I'm off to find myself a lovely bit of crumpet right now ...

Are you a fellow crumpeteer?

How do you like yours?

Butter, jam, Marmite, or something more exotic?

Do please trumpet for crumpets in the comment box below.


  1. No idea of how I'd like mine as never had one... not even for a try - I've made and cooked several world "stereotypes" before, so I might know what is being talked about but not crumpets, though.

    We have a dessert that is very similar - in texture - to crumpets: tigeladas. So I guess that I'll have mine with jam ;)

    Wishing you a delicious week,

    1. Then you must, Teresa! You must, you must, you must!

      When you do finally make that trip to Ireland (or Britain, if you've never been there either), you must make it a priority.

      Your culinary life will never be quite the same again.

  2. I need one. I need crumpets now.

    1. Well I can't help you. Having finished this post, I checked my cupboards ... nada. I then went to my local shop ... zip. All of which has left me sorely discrumpeted.

  3. What on earth have crumpets got to do with sex?

    1. Well, when you think about crumpets as a sexual metaphor, the imagery is really quite clear. Crumpets are ... umm ... well ...

      Oh never mind.

      I've no idea how crumpets and sex became connected, Dave. Just typical of those dirty-minded English.

    2. I'm with you on the Crumpet thing Eddie. Here's how I like mine:- Must be toasted so that it is brown and crispy on the top, then oodles of butter so that it fills the holes and leaks out underneath, then a generous coating of Marmite. Nice with a thick slice of mature Cheddar cheese.

      Takes me back to World War 2 days when a crumpet at teatime was something to look forward to. Only difference now is that I need a glass of Old Peculier to wash it down instead of government issue orange juice.

      I can hear your saliva dripping.

    3. Mmm. It's been a full day and I still haven't had a lovely bit of crumpet. And yes ... butter, Marmite, delicious. I'm not really one for the cheese, but jam or marmalade will do me just find. Boy, I'm hungry ...

  4. Probably because it rhymes or was originally rhyming slang for 'strumpet'.

    1. That would make a lot of sense, although 'crumpet' to mean 'a sexually attractive woman' was first used in the late 1930s, which is quite a delay from strumpet's Middle English heyday

  5. I had one with blue cheese and radicchio today. It was amazing.