French laundry, Hostess products, and incoherent ramblings

Today’s wry Zippy, with not much linguistic content (but it amused me):

A job. With a truck. French laundry? Hostess products? Or Zippy’s home brand of incoherent ramblings (which are often not as incoherent as you might think)?

Now about the French laundry…

Getting this out of the way: Thomas Keller’s celebrated restaurant in Yountville CA is so-called because the building housed, for a time, a French steam laundry.

Putting together things from a number of sites: French laundries take special care with clothes — ironing and finishing by hand rather than machine, dealing with delicate fabrics and clothing with mixed fabrics, whitening as well as cleaning, and so on. At one time, Parisian laundry establishments were famous for these attentions to clothes, and the term French laundry came to the U.S. for places that offered such care. There used to be one just a block from my Palo Alto house, and there still is one in Menlo Park, not far from here.

In some parts of the U.S., apparently, the term French laundry has come to be used to refer to any non-Chinese laundry — as a slur on Chinese laundries, which are viewed as mechanized, careless, and cheap in the sense ‘of inferior quality’ as well as the sense of ‘inexpensive’. (Ethnic slurs on the Chinese in America have a long history, of course. On the laundry front, see my 4/23//12 posting on (among other things) “No tickee, no washee”.)

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