A Challenge For My Programmer Friends

So you think you’re a dab hand at learning new and unusual programming languages: even the most bizarre of them. You can get your head around Perl, and you might have even looked at LISP. Well, let’s see who’s first to correctly tell me what the output of the following computer program is. It’s unique (I’ve just written it, and you won’t find it elsewhere on the ‘net), so you’ll have to first work out what the programming language is. At that point, you’ll need to either find a platform on which you can run it, or “whitebox” decipher it by hand.

A pint, and my respect, to the first person to solve it. If nobody solves it, the pint’ll go to whoever seemed to be most on the right track.

Scatman Dans Pasta Bake.

A quick and tasty meal for programmers everywhere: baked pasta with a spicy
kick. Cook and drain the pasta first, and pre-heat oven to 175 degrees Celcius
(gas mark 4).

76 g penne pasta
75 g fusilli pasta
65 g grated cheddar cheese
64 ml vegetable stock
21 g courgette
17 g fresh ginger
11 g crushed garlic
8 teaspoons olive oil
7 g parsley
5 level teaspoons cinnamon
3 eggs
2 sliced new potatoes
1 birds eye chilli
1 pinch hot chilli powder

Cooking time: 30 minutes.

Put penne pasta into the mixing bowl. Add birds eye chilli. Add hot chilli
powder. Put crushed garlic into the mixing bowl. Combine parsley. Put fresh
ginger into the mixing bowl. Combine cinnamon. Remove birds eye chilli. Put eggs
into the mixing bowl. Combine courgette into the mixing bowl. Add sliced new
potatoes. Put vegetable stock into the mixing bowl. Add eggs. Put fusilli pasta
into the mixing bowl. Add olive oil. Put grated cheddar cheese into the mixing
bowl. Stir for 5 minutes. Liquify contents of the mixing bowl. Pour contents of
the mixing bowl into the baking dish.

Serves 1.

Warning: do not try to cook this dish as if it were a genuine recipe!


  1. My output is NAMTACS – I think I missed out a step somewhere, because reversed it’s SCATMAN.

    Do I win?


  2. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    Very impressive. The pint is yours UNLESS somebody “local” can explain the flaw in your working by midnight.

  3. The step I don’t understand is where your recipe turns into Jon’s working.

    Does “combine” have some programming meaning? Indeed, is this entire thing some giant geek innuendo?!

    I am one confused semi-programmer.

  4. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    Lots of words have special programming meanings. “print_r” means something special in PHP. “wend” means something special in Visual Basic 6 or below. Perhaps “combine” means something in the programming language I’m writing in, above. Or perhaps it’s just a comment.

    The key to solving my puzzle is first to determine the nature of the programming language I’m writing in. Now that you have the answer and the question, perhaps you can solve it “the hard way”, but it’d certainly be easier to scour the internet and try to work out the rules of my language. It’s a published programming language, and the rules can be found online.

    Once again, Jon, I’m impressed that you worked it out by hand. I used a computer to help me check I’d written it correctly.

  5. Someone should try and cook it just to find out what it tastes like.

  6. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    I’ll give it a go, if you can figure out how to remove the birds eye chillis without affecting anything else….. Still, at least he’s not asking us to remove the eggs….

    And I think Jon was adding the ingredients to the bottom of the bowl, not the top….

  7. Dan Q Dan Q says:

    Previous comment was Paul using my PC, not me.

Reply here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reply on your own site

Reply by email

I'd love to hear what you think. Send an email to b875@danq.me; be sure to let me know if you're happy for your comment to appear on the Web!