Sometimes you need to time a quick one minute, or a quick three minutes, of cooking time. (Stir-fry recipes in particular are fond of directions like that.) And sometimes you don’t have a kitchen timer handy, or maybe you’ve got two or three one-minute steps right after the other with no time to set a timer in between.
At times like these, it helps to know that a dramatic recitation of Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” all the way through — no rushing or mumbling — takes about one minute.
(Medieval recipes would give similar timing directions. “A Paternoster while” is the length of time it takes to say the Lord’s Prayer in Latin once through — about thirty seconds if you don’t rush it. “Two Aves and a Paternoster” is about a minute.)
When you’re messing about in the kitchen, knowing a handy estimator like that one is as useful as knowing — in a writing context — that a page of 12-point Courier in standard manuscript format equals roughly 250 words and will take about a minute to read aloud.