Well, there’s no denying that 2020 has been quite a year… It’s a year where we learnt the hard way that drunkenly repeating on new year’s eve how crap the last year was, and how glad we are to see the new one, can come back and bite us. A year where Covid-19 forced us to discover just how much we actually liked the people we live with (and in some cases that meant ourselves). A year where we realised that, although it was hard to lock down or self-isolate, the mere fact of having a warm, safe place in which we could isolate ourselves from other people was a huge luxury that many around the world do not enjoy. A year that saw incredible acts of service, kindness and sacrifice – as well as acts of egregious and mind-boggling selfishness and entitlement. And that’s before I even get started on the kettle of crazy that was the US presidential election or the slow-motion car wreck that is Brexit…
It was also a year when the Covid-19 pandemic added a bunch of new words to our lexicon – and as you know there are few things that excite me more than new words! As always, the Germans have all the best new words, and their Covid-19 lexicon has been no exception. I mean, how cool are…
- Hamsterkauf – this portmanteau word made up of the German words Hamster (you guessed, it – hamster) and Kauf (buying) describes supermarket stockpilers who rush around buying all the loo roll/flour/hand sanitiser they can lay their hands on by likening them to hamsters, who stock up food for an entire winter by stuffing their cheeks full of it; and
- Coronaspeck – this is an adaptation of Kummerspeck (literally, “worry bacon” or weight gain as a result of emotional over-eating) meaning the weight gained during the Covid-19 lockdown 😉
Covid-19 has, of course, also given us a wealth of new English words – see how many of the below you have encountered:
- Covidiot – a person who isn’t following whatever restrictions or lockdown rules are in force where they live, such as those who refuse to wear masks or socially distance; who are sneakily still visiting friends’ houses (“because we all know we are being careful”); or who are driving unnecessarily across the country, going to illegal raves and all manner of other selfishness/stupidity
- Quarantini – any vaguely cocktail-related drink that we have been drinking during lockdown, usually on a Zoom call with friends
- Spendemic – the surge in online shopping and spending of money on sites like Amazon and eBay
- Coronials – a term being used for the generation of babies who will be born after the Covid-19 lockdown (analogous to Millennials)
- Zoom-bombing – the unwanted presence of a person on a video chat, ranging from a child gatecrashing a work meeting to ask for something (a mild case) to a naked partner wandering out of the shower and into your camera view during a presentation (the nuclear scenario!)
- Zumping – dumping a partner during a Zoom call (the new text dumping)
- Blursday – the day that you are presently living but have no idea what day of the week it is, owing to all days blurring into one since March
But besides spawning new words, the Covid-19 pandemic has also caused us to rediscovered some existing words, dust them off, repurpose and popularise them for a new generation. The elbow-bump as a greeting, for example, is accepted as being a derivative of the fist-bump greeting which originated in the 1980s. But it has enjoyed successive revivals during the during the avian flu scare of 2006; the 2009 swine flu pandemic; the Ebola outbreak of 2014; and now the Covid-19 pandemic. Infodemic (from information + epidemic, referring to how the rapid proliferation and spread of fact, rumour and fears about an issue makes it hard to find essential information) has been used in connection with Covid-19 pandemic but was popularised during the SARS outbreak in 2003. And in the UK, furlough (from the Dutch word verlof) was used until about 1908 to describe military personnel home on leave. Butit was pretty much unknown in the 21st century until it was resurrected this year to describe a scheme whereby the UK Government funds businesses to continue paying 80% of the salary of an employee who would otherwise have been made unemployed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
When it comes to repurposing and popularising in the culinary sense, at this time of year I always feel the need to fly the flag for unfairly maligned Brussels sprouts and find inventive ways to make people see them in a new light. This little brassica has been on the receiving end of much ridicule and dislike over the years and has unjustly been saddled with a reputation of being bitter, soggy, smelly and generally unpalatable. Some of this is down to the fact that decades ago, the only way that people cooked sprouts was seemingly by boiling them to a soggy, smelly, grey pulp; and some of it is down to the fact that the available varieties of sprout used to have more of a naturally bitter flavour. Today, there are dozens of varieties available that have been selectively bred not only for disease resistance, but also for a sweeter taste, so bitterness is unlikely to be an issue with any sprouts commercially available in the UK today. And as for cooking method, the sky is the limit – and certainly nobody is still suggesting sprouts be boiled to death! My two favourite ways of preparing sprouts is by sautéeing or when cooking larger amounts, by roasting them in a hot oven. Both methods retain the colour and texture of the sprouts while enhancing their sweeter, nutty flavours.
The recipe below (adapted from a Tesco magazine a couple of years ago) was an instant hit here at Cooksister HQ and I have been enthusiastically making it ever since. Brussels sprouts and some kind of cured pork is a classic combination and here the chorizo adds a touch of spicy paprika heat as well. The toasted nuts add a lovey textural crunch and the whole dish is both super simple to prepare and a hit with the most ardent of sprout dodgers. The UK may have said adieu to Brussels in the political sense, but we’ll always have their sprouts to treasure 😉
If you love Brussels sprouts, why not try…
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with sesame and ginger
- Simple garlicky sautéed Brussels sprouts
- Cheesy Brussels sprout gratin
- Brussels sprout and leftover ham risotto
PIN THIS RECIPE FOR LATER!
This delicious twist on sprouts with bacon adds the smoky flavour of chorizo and the nutty crunch of hazelnuts to golden roasted Brussels sprouts.
- 500 g Brussels sprouts trimmed
- 1 clove garlic large clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 75 g chorizo chopped
- 20 g hazelnuts
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
In a bowl, toss the sprouts, garlic and oil until the sprouts are evenly coated. Arrange them on a baking sheet, cut side down - don't worry if some outer leaves have come loose. Leave them on the sheet to crisp up. Roast for 15-20 mins or until the outer leaves are starting to turn golden and crispy, then turn over and roast till they start to colour.
While the sprouts are roasting, in a small dry frying pan, toast the hazelnuts over medium heat. Keep an eye on them as they burn easily! Remove from the heat when golden and fragrant, crush lightly and set aside.
In a large pan, fry the chorizo until the oils are released. When the sprouts are done, add them to the pan and stir to mix well.
Tip the sprouts and chorizo into a serving dish, top with hazelnuts and fresh thyme leaves and serve immediately.
Let’s keep in touch!