Archive for the ‘Language and food’ Category

Hipster chronicles

October 31, 2014

An illustration: the cover of the 11/3/14 New Yorker, Peter de Sève’s “Hip Hops”, with a hipster doing a beer tasting in a hipster bar:

More on the artist and the story behind this illustration later. But first, on hipster.

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Putrid in context

October 27, 2014

Back on the 15th, I posted about the appearance of the adjective putrid in a NYT feature story. From that posting:

Natto for breakfast. From the NYT Magazine on the 12th, in “Rise and Shine: What kids around the world eat for breakfast” (photographs by Hannah Whitaker, text by Malia Wollan) … [in the section on a Japanese breakfast that included the fermented soybean dish natto]

I was taken aback by putrid [for natto], which struck me as much too negative in the context. [in fact, the article had "putrid soybean goop"]

In a comment on this posting, Steve Anderson wrote:

I don’t know whether you’ve ever eaten (or tried to eat) natto, Arnold, but in my opinion ‘putrid’ [meaning 'rotten', and by extension, 'very unpleasant, repulsive'] is precisely descriptive.

Two comments here. First, note the “in this context” in my posting. I meant that seriously. My objection to putrid was to its use in the specific context of the NYT piece, not to its use in any context whatsoever (specifically, not to its use in a description of personal tastes). Second, a note on my own experiences of natto. I’ll reserve for another posting a (lengthy) discussion about rotten or rotted food, fermented food and drink, and related topics — a domain in which ordinary English is poor in vocabulary.

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Familiarity

October 24, 2014

Yesterday’s One Big Happy, in which Ruthie goes (as usual) with the familiar over the novel:

(#1)

Stovepipe hat (an unfamiliar expression for Ruthie) is transformed in Ruthie’s ears into Stove Top Stuffing, a familiar expression in her world (context is crucial!), even though the two are pretty distant phonologically (very imperfect as a pun).

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Miss Florence and the Paleo Diet

October 23, 2014

Today’s Zippy, in the Land of Diners:

  (#1)

The diner is easily identified. Then there’s King Harald of Norway, the TV Dinner Diet, and the Paleo Diet.

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Choosing your words

October 15, 2014

Two recent items on word choice: a One Big Happy with a set of synonyms; and a NYT Magazine piece on children’s breakfasts around the world, with a reference to Japanese natto as “putrid”.

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Turnip cake

October 6, 2014

From Ned Deily, this photo of the turnip cake from a gathering of friends for dim sum at the San Francisco restaurant Ton Kiang yesterday:

Ned tagged me in his Facebook posting on the gathering, because he knows how much I like the turnip cake at the Palo Alto restaurant Tai Pan, which specializes in Hong Kong-style cuisine. Ton Kiang features “the finest in Chinese and Hakka cuisine”.

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Word geographies

October 2, 2014

Some good words here about Asya Pereltsvaig’s explorations in word geography, from the etymology section of her Languages of the World site, which has some cool maps. In no particular order (some postings have come by more than once, in different versions):

The Geography of ‘Book’ (link)

The Geography of the “Onion” Vocabulary (link)

What will you have: tea or chai? (link)

Say “Cheese”! (link)

The Geography of “Cucumber” (link)

The ‘cheese’ map:

 

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Slush Puppies

September 27, 2014

In the NYT on the 23rd, an obit by Paul Vitello, “Will Radcliff, 74, Creator of the Slush Puppie, Dies”, beginning:

Flavored ice drinks had been around since the Romans, and machines had been churning them out under various brand names for almost as long, it seems, when Will Radcliff, a peanut salesman, had the ice beverage inspiration that made him rich.

He called it a Slush Puppie. Thirty years later, when he sold the company he had founded to make and market the product, the Slush Puppie had become a staple among aficionados of brain-freezing supersweet drinks all over the world.

(“brain-freezing supersweet drinks” is a nice turn of phrase). The product mascot:

(#1)

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Roost Lake Trout

September 26, 2014

Yesterday’s Zippy:

(#1)

Three things: the location of this scene; lake trout; and what “happens” in the strip.

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Hero sandwiches

September 21, 2014

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

Dragons eat heroes. In this case, in hero sandwiches.

hero sandwich is the New York term for a submarine sandwich, or sub, first attested in 1937; several unlikely etymologies have been suggested, but the likely source is as a relatively transparent compound — something like ‘sandwich for a hero’.

On synonyms for submarine sandwich, see 8/22/11’s “Zippy makes a sandwich”, with links to sources.


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