We were on the train from Oslo to Bergen on Saturday (a great journey by the way). It had a very good restaurant car, and I was fascinated to find “lapskaus” on the menu. I had to have some of course. The waitress was only temporarily thrown by my pronouncing it as “Lobscouse”. I had misread it as “låpskaus” which would have changed the “a” to be pronounced more like “o”.

I thought there just has to be a connection between the two words, and indeed http://geiriaduracademi.org gives a Welsh version that is even closer:

lobscouse n.Cu: [-]
lobsgóws m,S.W: lapsgóws m(without meat): N.W: lobsgóws troednoeth, lobsgóws dall

Wikipedia’s verdict:


Not sure of that Wikipedia article where it says that “A variant lobscaws or lobsgaws is a traditional dish in North Wales, normally made with braising or stewing steak, potatoes, and any other vegetable available, or made with mutton it is known as cawl.”

I know that Cawl where I am could be made with any meat (the favourite of my family bring pork!), and what makes Cawl particularly different from other vegetable/meat soup elsewhere is the vegetables being cut into larger pieces.

I don’t know though if the article implies that that is how the words are used only in north wales though- I hadn’t heard the word “lobsgaws” until relatively recently- “Cawl” was the traditional soup round here.* It would be interesting to know if the word is used differently in the north?

  • “Cawl”, of course, also just means soup- but the context and use made it clear that you wanted “proper” Cawl with large hunks of vegetables :wink:
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My ‘Auntie’ always insisted that cawl was made with lamb. (And the veggies, of course!).


Oo, was it local lamb? (assuming this was the gower we are talking about?) salt Marsh lamb from there is lovely…

Like all traditional recipes it differed from area to area and house to house and person to person, I’m sure! Round here it was large chopping and any meat. Certainly though most supermarket cawls are made with lamb. If there was a particular tradition in places for only lamb, this may well have been picked up as a Wales=lamb sort of thing when such recipes became standardised.
However it is made one thing is certain of course - home made is best!

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I’m pretty sure I’ve read lobscaws in literature from the north - probably in Un Nos Ola Leuad or in something by Kate Roberts … things to do with the quarrying communities, in any case. My partner (from Bethesda/ Bangor) also uses both lobscaws and cawl to mean different things. Here in Cardiff, in the Hen Lyfrgell cafe, they have ‘cawl’ and ‘cawl traddodiadol’ (to mean carrot & coriander or similar in the first instance, and lamb & vegetable in the second).

Interesting stuff!

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I think local at our end of Gower was from our neighbours’ farms, not the (I agree, yummy!!) saltmarsh variety!

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