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I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

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24 September 2012

Food for thought: a readers' challenge

To celebrate the fact that this blog has just passed 50,000 unique pageviews since it started seven months ago, I thought a meal would be the right thing to have since, if music is the food of love, then food is the love of the blogger.
     But food terms, like most others in English, can have double meanings. Russians should be aware that the word “vegetable” can be applied to a mentally subnormal (or “challenged”) individual, one who is not capable of rational responses to life. For that reason, it can also be used as an insult.
     The best-known example of that was in the television comedy, Spitting Image, when Mrs Thacher was seen entertaining the members of her Cabinet to dinner.

     “Would you like to order, sir?” the waitress says to the Iron Lady, who is dressed in a suit.
     “Yes, I’ll have the steak.”
     “How would you like it?”
     “Oh, raw, please,” the Prime Minister says.
     “And what about the vegetables?”
     “They’ll have the same as me.”

So today's question is this: Can you spot the vegetable in the picture below:

You can see the clip in question by clicking here.

YOU can win a invitation to our next whisky tasting for the most amusing application of this slang use of the word vegetable to current affairs, within Russia or without - to the usual email address.


  1. Russian word овощ has the same second meaning.

  2. Is "sir" a correct form of addressing the Iron Lady?
    “Would you like to order, sir?”

  3. Dear Mike G,

    You are right, of course. But the point of the joke in the clip is to emphasise Mrs T's apparent manliness, in contrast to the spinelessness of her Cabinet "colleagues" ("underlings" might be a better word).

    Hope that explains it!


  4. Good manners can replace morals. It may be years before anyone knows if what you are doing is right. But if what you are doing is nice, it will be immediately evident.