Pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold,
Pease pudding in the pot, nine days old;
Some like it hot, some like it cold,
Some like it in the pot, nine days old.
As anyone from the North East of England will know, pease pudding (also known as pease porridge and pease pottage) is a dish of split yellow peas, boiled in muslin until it resembles hummus in texture.
The rhyme makes its first known appearance in Mother Goose’s Melody (1760) in the form of a riddle:
Pease Porridge hot,
Pease Porridge cold,
Pease Porridge in the Pot
Nine Days old,
Spell me that in four Letters?
I will, T H A T.
It was also common with the last couplet as ‘Spell me that without a P / And what a clever scholar you will be’. Both of these versions have fallen out of use.
As the rhyme suggests, the dish is served both hot and cold, traditionally as an accompaniment to sliced meats, in sandwiches or fried with bacon.
The cry of ‘pease porridge hot!’ could be heard around Bartholomew Fair in the eighteenth century, from food sellers advertising their wares. The children’s rhyme, often incorporated into a clapping game, grew out of this catchphrase.
If you fancy having a go at pease pudding a simple recipe can be found in the Great British Cookbook.