Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beef and Mustard

Grumio. What say you to a piece of beef and mustard?

Katherina. A dish that I do love to feed upon.

Grumio. Ay, but the mustard is too hot a little.

Katherina. Why then the beef, and let the mustard rest.

Grumio. Nay, then I will not; you shall have the mustard,
Or else you get no beef of Grumio.


I love finding these homely passages in Shakespeare that show that the world has just not changed that much in the 400 years since this play was written. As any of Shakespeare girl's friends and family could tell you, I LOVE beef and mustard - they go so well together! Give me bread, beef and mustard, and I'm good.

This is also a great Shakespeare quote for everyday household use. Next time anyone asks if you want mustard on your sandwich, just reply airily that it is "a dish that I do love to feed upon."

I also think Grumio's concern is totally hilarious that the mustard, being "hot," would by its spicy properties encourage Kate's feisty temper. This theory is put forward by Petruchio, in a classic scene - his proficiency with insults suggests that he doesn't need any anger-inducing food to get him going:

Petruchio. What's this? Mutton? ...
'Tis burnt; and so is all the meat.
What dogs are these? Where is the rascal cook?
How durst you villains bring it from the dresser

And serve it thus to me that love it not?
There, take it to you, trenchers, cups, and all;
[Throws the meat, etc., at them]
You heedless joltheads and unmanner'd slaves!
What, do you grumble? I'll be with you straight.

 I tell thee, Kate, 'twas burnt and dried away,
And I expressly am forbid to touch it;
For it engenders choler, planteth anger;
And better 'twere that both of us did fast,
Since, of ourselves, ourselves are choleric,
Than feed it with such over-roasted flesh.
 (4.1.1764, 1768-1775, 1779-1785)

Another useful phrase: next time you don't like your dinner, call out "where is the rascal cook?" Might want to watch out with this one if the founder of the feast is perhaps your mom or your spouse - but on the other hand, Petruchio seems to make it work for him...

Excuse me, off to eat some beef and mustard.

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