The Courier-Mail

Bog stan­dard the spaghetti for me


FOR some peo­ple, the mo­ment of en­light­en­ment when they re­alise they are truly spe­cial can come with a fanfare like the ring­ing of church bells. My mo­ment came with the bing of the of­fice mi­crowave.

What’s the first meal you learnt to cook? What’s the first meal you mas­tered when you moved out of home? What meal is one of the five sta­ples in your fam­ily?

Chances are you would an­swer spaghetti bolog­naise to one of those ques­tions. But just how you would say spaghetti bolog­naise splits the world be­tween those who are mad for bol and those who love their bog.

And when it comes to the split my mother was right. It turns out I’m re­ally quite spe­cial.

“I’m hav­ing spag bog,” I said to the bloke who was wait­ing pa­tiently for the other mi­crowave in the of­fice kitch­enette. He was too, it turns out, ex­cept he was not.

The tried and tested sci­en­tific method of all jour­nal­ists in solv­ing a de­bate, which in­volves ask­ing any­one who sits within cooee, proved in­ter­est­ing re­sults. Team Bol is as com­mon as dirt. Team Bog is an elite.

But I did not stop with an of­fice quiz be­cause to do so would be lazy jour­nal­ism. Also, it would prove I was wrong and there are some things this lazy jour­nal­ist can­not ac­cept.

A friend, fu­elled per­haps by that sel­f­righ­teous glow that only a Boller knows, sent me a link to a Google anal­y­sis com­par­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of the search term spag bol ver­sus spag bog.

Bol is a graph that soars to great heights, bog is a graph that sinks like a stone.

No man is an is­land and there are some mem­bers of my small group who shine the light on the beauty of the bog.

Mag­gie Beer has a recipe for spag bog, as I kept yelling at peo­ple at the of­fice. “Beer is pro bog!” I screamed in des­per­a­tion.

I turned to Twit­ter and Twit­ter turned back on me, sug­gest­ing in 140 char­ac­ters or less that I was as mad as a hat­ter.

Not be­ing one to go down with­out a fight, I hoped to find so­lace in the wis­dom of a word master.

Su­san But­ler, editor of the Mac­quarie Dic­tionary, was quick to come to the party although it was not the party of which I am a part.

“I have al­ways been a spag bol per­son my­self,” But­ler said, start­ing our cor­re­spon­dence by wear­ing her heart on her sleeve.

Delv­ing into the terms, she said both forms emerged in the UK in the 1970s. In Aus­tralia, the “over­whelm­ingly dom­i­nant form” is spag bol, which rates an en­try in the dic­tionary. Those of us who are in the spag bog camp might be show­ing signs of a Bri­tish in­flu­ence.

Maybe, back in the ’70s, my fam­ily watched a Bri­tish sit­com and fell un­der the in­flu­ence of a for­eign term. Maybe when I or­der spag bog I’m chan­nelling a for­got­ten episode of The Good Life, or Mind Your Lan­guage or Benny Hill.

Sure, we could con­tinue the de­bate on what sep­a­rates the two camps of the great spag di­vide but let’s in­stead meet on com­mon ground.

When it comes to cheese, pow­dered parme­san in a jar does not cut it. No mat­ter what you call it, some things are just wrong.

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