A rich breakfast of rashers

U. 3.97: The rich of a rasher fried with a herring?

The silence of annotators is ambiguous. Does it mean there is nothing to annotate, or that there is as yet no explanation for a recognised crux? “The rich of a rasher” serves as a good example of this phenomenon. Both the OED and the English Dialect Dictionary have no relevant information on “rich” as a noun and a search of documents from the 19th and early 20th centuries does not uncover a single hit. It seems that the expression did not make it into print that early, and so remains one more example of elusive oral ephemera.

Eamonn Finn of Dublin eventually solved the riddle when he discovered an article by Dr. Gary Culliton in the Irish Medical Times for December 2008 with the title: "Will anyone save our bacon before this year’s Winterfest?", which contains the line: "Go ahead with the turkey basting and don’t be afraid to add the rich of a rasher to the crispy skin." Fatty rashers are commonly used to keep the turkey from getting dry. Buckmaster’s Cookery of 1875 (p. 213) recommends the procedure for roasting fowl:

Tie a rasher of fat bacon over the breast and put the fowl before a bright clear fire, then roast slowly, with occasional basting …

It seems obvious that Stephen’s uncle thought the rich or fat of a rasher would improve the taste of fried herring for Stephen.

As Morel’s translation of Ulysses is the only one during Joyce's lifetime to have mostly understood the meaning of "rich" here we might speculate that he got the information straight from Joyce himself: "une fine tranche de lard frit".

Harald Beck

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