From a Maine diner to Southern squirrel stew

Today’s Zippy takes place in the Brunswick Diner in Brunswick ME, with a side trip to bowling balls; meanwhile, the Pinheads and the Roundheads each regard the other (somewhat surreptitiously) as exotic creatures:


Lots of stuff about names to come, taking us from Brunswick ME to Brunswick stew with a lot of stops in between.

The diner. A railway-car classic, with classic diner food, plus (of course) lobster rolls, this being Maine, close to the coast:


An enthusiastic 11/10/11 review from the Portland (ME) Press Herald, “Eat and Run: No finer diner”:

The Brunswick Diner is strictly authentic in look, feel and taste.

The Brunswick Diner has been tucked under the trees along Pleasant Street since the end of World War II. My dad, who graduated from Bowdoin College in 1950, told stories about coming here with his frat buddies after all-nighters for much-needed coffee and sustenance.

Since I was a kid, I remember stopping here during our summer trips to Maine. And now that I live in Maine, the Brunswick Diner is still the place I take many of my out-of-state visitors.

Brunswick Diner – remains the most authentic old-time diner in the state, in style and decor as well as the menu.

Many restaurants up and down the coast call themselves diners, but the Brunswick Diner is a true Worcester dining car. The car itself began its restaurant life in Norway, Maine, and was trucked down to Brunswick in 1946.

… The diner is known for its friendly and generally fast service, hearty food and reasonable prices.

It’s a tiny place, with just a few booths along one wall and stools at the counter. It’s cramped, and maybe a tad uncomfortable and inconvenient. The front steps are awkward if you’re not nimble on your feet, and the diner accepts only cash.

But its charm abounds. There is nothing pretend about this place. It hasn’t been modernized in a long time, and it makes no apologies for its condition and circumstance. It is what it is. Accept it or move on.

There are jukeboxes at each table programmed with songs from the ’50s and ’60s. The menu is what you would expect: Burgers and fries, soups and chowders, comfort food in general.

The lobster rolls are legendary.

The town and its name. From Wikipedia:

Brunswick is a town in Cumberland County in southeastern Maine, United States. The population was 20,278 at the 2010 census. Part of the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metropolitan area, Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, The Theater Project, and the Maine State Music Theatre.

… The Massachusetts General Court constituted the township in 1717, naming it Brunswick in honor of the House of Brunswick and its scion, King George I.

More on German/English names, from a different Wikipedia article:

The [Canadian] province is named for the city of Braunschweig, known in English as Brunswick, located in modern-day Lower Saxony in northern Germany (and also the former duchy of the same name). The then-colony was named in 1784 to honour the reigning British monarch, George III, who was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg (“Hanover”) in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

Braunschweig is the ancestral home of the British monarch George I and his successors (the House of Hanover).

A side trip to bowling balls. In the first panel, Little Zippy is convinced that the Brunswick Diner is where the bowling balls come from. Well, of course not. But this quest does take us back to Europe.

Two Wikipedia sites. First,

Brunswick Bowling & Billiards is the business segment of Brunswick Corporation that historically encompassed the following three divisions: Billiards; Bowling centers (now owned by Bowlmor AMF); Bowling equipment and products (now owned by BlueArc Capital Management)

And then,

The Brunswick Corporation, formerly known as the Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company, is an American corporation that specializes in developing, manufacturing and marketing a wide variety of products since 1845. Brunswick’s global headquarters is in the northern Chicago suburb of Lake Forest, Illinois.

Brunswick was founded by John Moses Brunswick who came to the United States from Switzerland at the age of 15. [Once again a variant of Braunschweig.] The J. M. Brunswick Manufacturing Company opened for business on September 15, 1845, in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Definitely a mid-Western company, and it looks like the manufacturing is done in the U.S., but surely not anywhere in Maine.

More place-names. So far we have Brunswick ME and the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Also going back to English Brunswick and the House of Hanover: New Brunswick NJ, Brunswick County NC (home of Wilmington and Myrtle Beach), Brunswick County VA, and the city of Brunswick GA (and there are other towns named Brunswick in (at least) IN, MD, MN, MO, NY, OH, WI, and VT).

Brunswick stew. From Wikipedia:

Brunswick stew is a traditional dish, popular in the American South, associated with squirrel meat. The origin of the dish is uncertain, but it is believed to have been invented in the early 19th century by a plantation cook named Danny Mears. Two states compete for originating it, in addition to claims of a German origin.

Recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly, but it is usually a tomato-based stew, containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, okra, and other vegetables, and one or more types of meat. Claims of authenticity call for squirrel, opossum or rabbit meat, but chicken is most commonly used in modern versions. Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste.

The stew essentially resembles a very thick vegetable soup with meat. The key distinguishing factor between soup and Brunswick stew is the consistency. Brunswick stew must be thick; otherwise, it would be vegetable soup with meat added. Most variations have more meat and vegetables than liquid.

Brunswick County, Virginia, and the town of Brunswick, Georgia, both claim to be the origin of the stew.

The soup vs. stew distinction has come up on this blog several times before. Here’s a big pot of Brunswick stew (made with chicken), looking decdedly stewy rather than soupy:


Checking out the Other. Finally, there’s the play in panels 2 and 3 about the Roundheads checking out the Pinheads and vice versa (but surreptitiously: note “Don’t look now” in both panels). The strip treats the two groups even-handedly (though in Zippyworld, the Pinheads are very much a minority group, even if they do have a town of their very own), but in the real world, such encounters are usually notably asymmetric, since the minority group typically knows a good bit about the majority culture, while the majority group is likely to have only gross stereotypes as information about the minority culture.

But things can be a bit more even if a lot of the minority group have significant lives in territories of their own, so that they mirror the majority group, who spend most of their lives in territories of their own and so tend to have litte real knowledge of the minority group’s lives. So maybe there are circumstances in which Pinheads and Roundheads can function as equals.

In the real world, however, things are almost never so equal. I’ve been in clearly identifiable lgbt groups in public, and there was certainly a lot of observation of us by straight people and observation by us of the straight people, but what we were watching was not straights doing their goofy straight stuff, but the straights responding to us as oddities in their world.

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