Archive for the ‘Language and food’ Category

Hawaii’s iconic food

June 29, 2015

Today’s breakfast special at the Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto was the Hawaiian Omelette, which I was canny enough to recognize as an omelette featuring pineapple (and ham). Just as the avocado is California’s iconic food — see postings here, here, and here — so the pineapple (often together with ham) is Hawaii’s.


In the monstrous food sweepstakes

June 27, 2015

The most recent entry in the sweepstakes was the Pizza Hut Hot Dog Bites, and now we have a new entry that that doesn’t come directly from a fast-food company, but is produced by amending a fast-food item: the deep-fried Big Mac, displayed in a UK BuzzFeed news story by Alan White on the 25th, “Is This Deep-Fried Big Mac Completely Disgusting Or Absolutely Wonderful? I’ll be honest, I really can’t say”:

Says White:

The recipe’s pretty simple: Just scramble some eggs and coat the burger with them, cover with breadcrumbs, and dip it in the deep fat fryer.

Maybe McDonald’s should start selling these at state fairs in the US, state fairs being the native land of Deep Fried Everything.

Annals of advertising and poor taste

June 25, 2015

A recent tv ad for the candy Skittles lies, for me, somewhere between absurdly silliy and just plain creepy. The premise is that there’s an epidemic of Skittles pox, which manifests itself in an outbreak of Skittles on the face. The unlikely ad copy:

Warning signs of a Skittles pox outbreak include Rainbow colors, increased dating prospects and loud “Mmmm” sounds from the afflicted. Contract the Rainbow. Taste the Rainbow.

The equivalent of a pustule in this infection is an individual Skittle — entirely edible, hence the enhanced dating prospects and the appreciative noises (and, for me, the creepiness).

Oh yes, it’s contagious.

(Earlier on Skittles, its “Share the rainbow … Taste the rainbow” campaign, and rainbow food composed of the candies, in this posting.)

A still from one ad:

and the video:

nutmeg, the verb

June 25, 2015

From Steve Anderson a few days ago, this cute story (by Seth Rosenthal on June 20th) from the world of basketball, on player Boogie Cousins:

Hero child nutmegs DeMarcus Cousins, then scores in his face

This is Boogie’s “DeMarcus Cousins Elite Skills Camp,” and it’s the typical session in which campers get to attempt scoring on the 7′ basketball man. Cousins obviously isn’t trying very hard to start the exchange, but then the kid successfully puts the ball through his legs and Cousins spins around with what looks to me like a genuine effort to block the reverse finish … but it’s got juuuust the right arc to soar over his fingers and drop in! And the crowd goes wild!

Video in the story. Still shot of the aftermath:


Ah, the verb nutmeg.


Hecho en México

June 24, 2015

So it says on the hunky body of Mr. Mexico 2014, José Pablo Minor:


(shown here in a body-display pose that emphasizes his torso, makes a V that points to his crotch, and stops just short of exposing that crotch. A cock-tease shot, plus a darkly handsome face.)


The Haddockian argot, and licorice

June 18, 2015

A recent Language Log posting by Mark Liberman (“Vigilance – Cleanliness”) reproduced a cartoon of Captain Haddock, Hergé’s character in Tintin, exclaiming nonsensically:


That’s ‘thunder of/from Brest’ (the city in Brittany) and it’s not supposed to mean anything beyond exhibiting strong emotion in the Haddockian argot.


One more monstrous food item

June 11, 2015

From the Appy Geek site, this appalling food item from Pizza Hut:

Appy Geek’s comments:

We’ve covered plenty of terrifying fast food items in the past, from the Taco Bell breakfast menu [with an entire breakfast wrapped up in a tortilla] to Hardee’s latest monstrous burger creation, but I’m thinking that the Hot Dog Bites Pizza might take the cake. According to Bloomberg, the pizza features 28 “premium hot dog bites,” which are meant to be peeled off and dipped in mustard.

… Approximately 1.5 million Hot Dog Bites Pizzas will be ready to roll out on June 18th. Pizza Hut will sell them until July 11th, unless the supply is depleted before that date, which seems incredibly unlikely.

Note the little play on the “Dog Bites Man” joke.

Annals of advertising: patriotism, sex, and overwhelming mouthfuls of food

June 9, 2015

It burst recently (with actual fireworks) onto the American fast-food scene: the Most American Thickburger from Carl’s Jr. / Hardees:

This clip doesn’t include the final tag, “Because America, that’s why” (with the recently popular because NP construction). But the entertaining businessday (NZ) story about the ad does.



June 3, 2015

Following up on my “Cilantro, same-sex marriage, and Yoda” posting, Sim Aberson wrote to ask about culantro (with a U, not an I), another scented herb, one that grows in the part of the world where Sim lives. Two things I don’t know about culantro: what the etymology of the name is, and whether people who are sensitive to cilantro have a similar reaction to culantro.



June 2, 2015

In a posting on some cartoons yesterday, I mentioned what I described as an “aversion” to cilantro that affects many people, an aversion that turns out to be genetically determined: people with Yuck Cilantro genetics (hat tip to Benita Bendon Campbell on the term) find the taste of cilantro disgusting and don’t appreciate the pleasures that others experience. For some people, the effect goes well beyond distaste or aversion; they suffer extreme symptoms that cause them to characterize their condition as an “allergy”, treating the symptomology as a definition of allergy.

But the medical literature insists on a technical definition of allergy that requires an immune response involving the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE); without this antibody, we are looking at a food intolerance (or non-allergic food hypersensitivity), even if its manifestations are extreme: vomiting, even anaphylaxis. According to this literature, there is much less food allergy in the world than people think — because ordinary people use the term allergy loosely and incorrectly.

Now, from the point of view of ordinary people, it’s the symptomology that’s important, not the cause of the symptoms, and whatever the cause, the major part of treatment will involve avoiding the foods that trigger the symptoms. In the circumstances, it would be useful to have a technical term like true allergy or allergy proper (to distinguish those cases where antibody-suppressing drugs might be effective parts of treatment) versus a term allergy of wider application, or else a specially invented wider term, like allergoid condition.



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