Post Hoc

In the gal­van­ising spirit of New Year optim­ism, I set myself an arbit­rary chal­lenge. These are my inven­ted rules: shut eyes, pull book from shelves — it turns out to be The Dic­tion­ary of Dif­fi­cult Words - slap right index fin­ger down some­where on ran­dom page. Whichever word or phrase I land on will provide the mater­ial for both some­thing to eat and a semi-coherent set of ideas. And the phrase is, hon­est truth.….. post hoc, ergo prop­ter hoc.

I don’t like to admit defeat, so here we go. The mean­ing of post hoc, ergo prop­ter hoc is ‘a phrase to point up the error in logic of con­fus­ing sequence with con­sequence.’ The lit­eral trans­la­tion, in case you’re slightly baffled is: don’t be daft enough to think that just because it happened after this, that it happened because of this.

The phrase is designed to detach what hap­pens from the events that lead up to the event. I don’t want to sound smug, but I think I’ve found a way round the argu­ment. I’ve just been to Aus­tria and when I came home, post hoc, I made the sweet Aus­trian del­ic­acy of Kais­er­schmarrn. But if I hadn’t been to Aus­tria where I was told about the recipe by my god­son Arthur, I would never have made Kais­er­schmarrn because I would never have heard of it. If that’s not a solid case of iden­ti­fi­able and jus­ti­fi­able prop­ter hoc, I don’t know what is.

And if an Aus­trian winter tree smothered with snow doesn’t inev­it­ably come after an autumn tree covered with leaves, and isn’t fol­lowed by a massive stack of fire­wood, then I’ll eat my thermal vest.

Kais­er­schmarrn, with its over-generous sup­ply of con­son­ants, should, of course, be in The Dic­tion­ary of Dif­fi­cult Words itself. It appar­ently means The Emperor’s Muddle, although no-one knows pre­cisely why. Essen­tially, it’s a sweet pan­cake, but it’s cut up into little squares in the pan as it cooks. That way the chef makes enough for six people at once, rather than stand­ing for­lornly at the stove mak­ing one pan­cake at a time and los­ing the will to keep going after pan­cake num­ber three.

KAISERSCHMARRN

  • 60 g but­ter
  • 4 eggs
  • 100 g flour
  • 150 ml full cream milk
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Pinch salt
  • Hand­ful sultanas
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • Sprink­ling of caster sugar

Whisk the eggs until frothy. Sieve the flour into the milk and whisk in as much air as pos­sible before adding the salt, lemon zest and eggs. The bat­ter will be the con­sist­ency of double cream. Melt 30 g of but­ter in a fry­ing pan on a low to medium heat. Pour the bat­ter into the pan and allow to cook for a minute or so until brown on the bot­tom. Scat­ter the sul­tanas over the pan­cake and then turn over using two spat­u­las. With a wooden or plastic spoon, and while the pan­cake is still in the pan, slice it across and down into small squares. Melt the remain­ing but­ter and caster sugar into the pan and stir it around so that everything is coated. Tip the squares out onto a plate and dust with icing sugar. Serve with fruit com­pote of whichever kind you like best. 

Post the pan­cake you will be happy. Prop­ter, Kais­er­schmarrn is good. Ergo, Arthur deserves a lifetime’s supply.

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14 thoughts on “Post Hoc

  1. I loved your Post hoc post. I reckon you could hang a delight­ful culin­ary piece around pretty well any­thing from the Dicion­ary of Dif­fi­cult Words or any other source for that mat­ter. Kais­er­schmarn is cer­tainly a Ger­man pan­tech­nicon of a word worth remem­ber­ing — and eat­ing from the look of it. Wonderful.

    • This one was a slight stretch, but I’m glad if it enter­tained you. It’s hard to know when I’ll be able to drop post hoc ergo prop­ter hoc into a con­ver­sa­tion, but never say never.

  2. Love post Charlie and a won­der­ful idea!! Yes Kais­er­schmarn is spe­cial to little boys — Jasper made his first in the kit­chen of an inn in Bav­aria when he was around 10, with cooks hat at the big res­taur­ant stove and all! he couldn’t have been prouder!

    I can’t to see/read where your fin­ger takes you next!
    xox Karin

    • What a won­der­ful memory, Karin. Fant­astic. I’m ashamed to say that until Arthur intro­duced me to it, Kais­er­sh­marrn was an undis­covered gem.

  3. I enjoyed your post Charlie. It cheered me up on a cold, dark morn­ing as the chil­dren start back at school. They would love those pancakes.

    • I’m glad it did a bit of cheer­ing. It was so gloomy this morn­ing that I thought I’d set my clock wrong and was send­ing my chil­dren to the school bus stop at dawn.

  4. this is my favour­ite of all your posts charlie, its really warm­ing, espe­cially that huge bundle of fire­wood, and a great way to get around the pan­cake problem!

    • That’s very kind of you, Boin­sey. I can’t help but feel sorry for the per­son who had to do all the stack­ing, but it’s a very beau­ti­ful pile.

  5. Just when I don’t think you can get any bet­ter… you do! Sequence or con­sequence? I actu­ally laughed out loud — guf­fawed, if you will, as I arrived towards the end of the post. Abso­lutely bril­liant as well as charm­ing as ever. And the Emporer’s Muddle looks quite yummy.

    Ahhh… I could just sit and bask in the ver­biage of your blog.

    • I will take your won­der­ful com­ment as cheer­ing proof that I haven’t tipped off the diving board of san­ity into the deep pool of inco­her­ence! Thank you Jamie as ever — I feel gal­van­ised for the next post now xx

  6. Quod erat demon­strandum! :)

    As you are well aware, I am a sucker for this sort of lin­guistic tom­fool­ery — won­der­ful post about a won­der­ful dish (which, incid­ent­ally, I first saw in Bav­aria trans­lated as “Emperor’s Non­sens” and which I pos­ted about here http://​www​.cook​s​ister​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​1​0​/​k​a​i​s​e​r​s​c​h​m​a​r​r​n​.​h​tml) — it cer­tainly provides a prac­tical solu­tion to feed­ing pan­cakes to a large num­ber of people!

    • Good to know you think it’s Q.E.D! I love the look of your ver­sion. I sus­pect it will have a lighter, air­ier tex­ture than mine — I’m def­in­itely going to give it a try. Cook­ing pan­cakes for more than two people is such a pain, isn’t it.

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