Eating like a Pygmalion

… Wayno’s portmanteauing title for yesterday’s (12/27) Wayno/Piraro Bizarro:

(#1) A play on Shaw / slaw (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page.)

Three things: one, plays on the Shaw of George Bernard Shaw (plenty of room for silliness here); two, on the wonders of (cole) slaw; and three, a note on the exclamation by George (which of course has nothing to do with GBS, but also nothing to with kings of Great Britain, since George I (from Hanover) didn’t ascent to the throne until 1714, while exclamations calling on a George go back at least to 1616).

The world of George Bernard X. There are a few useful or decorative objects in there:

the GB Shawl, the GB Saw, GB Straw, and the oboe-like GB Shawm

But mostly it’s people:

the insignificant GB Small, the balky GB Stall, the contemptuous GB Pshaw, the voracious GB Maw, the sluggish GB Crawl, the incomprehensible GB Scrawl, the immovable GB Wall, the gloomy GB Pall, the sheepish GB Shaun, the blemished GB Flaw, the pornographer GB Raw, the graphic artist GB Draw, the fisherman GB Trawl, the greeter GB Y’all, the corvine GB Caw, the incisive GB Gnaw, the fatherly GB Paw, the apostolic GB Paul ( GB Saul), and the GB Shawns, father and son, of the New Yorker and of My Dinner with Andre / The Princess Bride, respectively

(cole) slaw (also spelled coleslaw).

(#2) Looking creamy: Memphis-style coleslaw, from the Barefeet in the Kitchen site

From my 6/14/12 posting “Cole slaw”:

the cole piece of cole slaw can be glossed as ‘cabbage’. The slaw piece is from Dutch sla, a shortened form of salade ‘salad’. So: cole slaw is just ‘cabbage salad’.

The OED identifies slaw as a specifically North American word, glossed as

A salad made of sliced cabbage, etc. Also, any dish the main ingredient of which is sliced cabbage.

From the beginning, … we have cold slaw as a spelling for the dish, indicating a reinterpretation of the first element in the Dutch original (for a dish served as a cold salad). Then we see the truncation of cole slaw to slaw, cole slaw being at first the only dish called slaw. And then the extension of slaw to hot dishes made with sliced cabbage.

The final development is not represented in OED2’s citations, but it’s nicely illustrated in a NYT food column by Mark Bittman from last September, “Shred Your Inhibitions and Embrace a Surprising Slaw” (recipes here). Slaws eight ways …

Bittman explains that he’s extending the word slaw:

If you expand the notion of slaw to include any vegetable that can benefit from the same kind of treatment — shred it, toss it with dressing (mayo-based or not) and serve whenever — you can call that slaw.

… Some of the recipes call for salting, which draws out water (and bitterness) from the veggies and makes them sweeter (in theory), crunchier (for sure) and more tender (not a contradiction

Almost all of them also have an acid ingredient — lemon juice or lime juice — in place of the vinegar in traditional cole slaw.

by George! From OED3 (March 2012) on the noun George:

Etymology. < the male forename George, especially as the name of a saint … In by George and synonymous phrases cited at sense Phrases 1 perhaps partly a euphemism for by God

Phrases. P1. by George (also †for, †before, †fore George): used as an exclamation or mild oath. Also simply George! [1st cite 1616, of for George, from Ben Jonson; 1st cite of by George 1694, in a translation of Plautus]

Tying it together. Rex Harrison in the 1964 film of Lerner & Loewe’s musical My Fair Lady (first performed on Broadway in 1956), based on GBS’s play Pygmalion (from 1913):

(#3) They are all about to burst into “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain”

GBS, Pygmalion, and by George. Then slaw gets in from the Shaw / slaw (imperfect) pun. (As far as I know, GBS had no connection to coleslaw.)

One Response to “Eating like a Pygmalion”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    This reminds of a “chain of names” (I forget whether there’s another term for this kind of thing) that my college-freshman roommates and I devised, in which I’ve highlighted the part that relates to this post:

    Adam and Eva Marie Saint Bernard Sean O Henry James Joyce Kilmer.

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