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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