Archive for the ‘Language and food’ Category

Resist clever marketing

September 29, 2023

… the slogan from a Funny Times magazine t-shirt ($30):

(#1) [FT‘s ad copy:] Embrace the sweet irony of this nostalgic candy-themed tee! It’s a Funny Times exclusive and perfect for thoughtful candy lovers

The model for the shirt:

(#2) A package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Now, lots of background.


wine : oenophile :: beer : X

September 26, 2023

We start with wine, a drink whose enthusiasts, knowledgable fans, aficionados, connoisseurs, and the like are legion, so not surprisingly we have a name for them, with alternative spellings: oenophiles / enophiles. Beer is equally appreciated and enjoyed by many, but there are relatively few beer connoisseurs. But, even if there are few of them, they presumably have a name — maybe an obscure one, but a name nevertheless. What’s the solution to this proportional equation?

wine : oenophile :: beer : X

It turns out that there are (at least) two solutions for X, one Latin-based (like vinophile for wine, which is so rare that it doesn’t make it even into the OED), the other Greek-based like oenophile (Greek to accord with the Greek second element –phile). You’re unlikely to have come across either of them, but the second, Greek-based one, is especially delicious for me, because it’s a Z -word (like Zwicky), and because it came to me through a Facebook friend, Martyn Cornell.


Come back to the street, Wiener honey!

September 22, 2023

A gift for today’s equinox (the autumnal one in my hemisphere), from the AP News site yesterday: “Hot dog! The Wienermobile is back after short-lived name change”:

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Some names are just the wurst.

Just four months after announcing that the hot dog-shaped Wienermobile was changing its name to the Frankmobile, the one-of-a-kind wiener on wheels is reverting to the original.

Oscar Mayer announced Wednesday on Instagram that the Frankmobile is toast. The Wienermobile rides again.

The name change announced by The Kraft Heinz Company in May was meant to pay homage to the brand’s 100% beef franks and their new recipe.

For fans of the original name, the change was, frankly, ridiculous.

“It’s been a franktastic summer!” the Instagram post said. “But like you, we missed this BUNderful icon. Help us welcome back the Wienermobile!”

Oscar Mayer was headquartered in the Wisconsin capital, Madison, for nearly 100 years before it moved to Chicago in 2015. The first Wienermobile was created in 1936, and it has gone through several iterations since then.

Now, the everyday name for the foodstuff is hotdog. The name wiener is slang, rather playful in tone, coming with suggestions of both dachshunds and penises. The name frank (short for frankfurter) seems to be primarily a commercial term, lacking in any kind of soul. Wienermobile is a delightful name — funny, cute. Frankmobile has none of that. It’s hard for me to understand how Oscar Mayer got that so wrong. But now they’ve reversed their course, and the beloved Wienermobile is back on the roads

Now, some history, plus some puzzled notes on how Oscar Mayer labels its two main products, the pork-based (and no-beef) sausages and the all-beef sausages. They are, first of all, wieners, always. Then things get complicated.


A Biblical moment at the therapist’s

September 16, 2023

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, a Psychiatrist cartoon with a Biblical theme:

(#1) Wayno’s title:”Revised Translation” (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 4 in this strip — see this Page)

Note the concessions to the ancient setting in the furnishings of the therapist’s office. (Do not write me about the impossibility of writing with a quill pen on parchment in the fashion shown in the cartoon; this is, after all, a kind of imaginative fiction, combining features of some fictional world and the modern real world. Get a grip on things: there were no psychoanalysts in Flood Times.)

However, a Biblical theme is appropriate for the day, since it’s Rosh Hashanah, Jewish new year.


The pumpkin spice of August

August 31, 2023

Retailers are rushing the season: while little pumpkins peek out from the ironweed and goldenrod of late summer, the scent of pumpkin spice suntan oil blankets the beaches, heralding a torrent of pumpkin spice lattes soon to be sweeping through city streets. No, it’s not your addled perceptions, it’s an actual thing.

From NBC News, “Autumn arrives earlier than ever for Starbucks and others with pumpkin menu items: The number of limited-time pumpkin launches more than doubled to 86 in August 2022 compared with 2019”, by Amelia Lucas (CNBC) on 8/31:

In most of the U.S., tree foliage is green and temperatures are warm. But for many restaurants and retailers, fall is already here.

Halloween candy and pumpkin spice lattes used to wait until after Labor Day to make their annual debuts, ushering in the start of fall several weeks before the season officially begins. But in the past few years, restaurants and retailers have been releasing their autumnal food and beverages even earlier.

… [But] fear not — plenty of companies are sticking to normal seasonal boundaries.

Reynolds’ Hefty isn’t releasing its cinnamon pumpkin spice-scented trash bags until September.

Below, there will be a brief refresher about the substance and its cartoon career, just so I can replay Bob Eckstein’s charming cartoon about pumpkin cartoon-memes, from last fall; Bob has now turned this into the logo for his newsletter on substack, so I can give you this version:

Three cartoon memes: Seeker and Seer / Wise Man, Sisyphus, Desert Island — see my 11/1/22 posting “Every meme is better with a pumpkin in it”

Suppose I just showed you the first of these, out of the blue, without any background or information (all that stuff I’ve just been feeding you) — a pumpkin on a ledge outside a mountain cave — what would you need to bring to it to understand why I might find it so irresistibly funny that I smile every time I see it, sometimes break into happy laughter?


Safeway’s AI soup nazis

August 31, 2023

🐅 🐅 🐅 tiger tiger tiger for ultimate August, anticipating the welcoming bunny trio of September

I get my groceries from a local Safeway, with shoppers and deliverers supplied by Instacart. Safeway has an excellent line of deli soups, which I described for you in my 7/21 posting “Real food”, focusing on Safeway’s Signature Cafe (their brand name) chicken tortilla soup (in a plastic container), which was a major step on my route back to real food after my gall bladder surgery; I noted at the time:

Safeway has a whole line of these soups, including a clear lobster bisque suitable for liquid diets and several very nice chunkier soups, including a minestrone, chicken noodle soup, jambalaya and broccoli cheddar soup.

Yesterday, continuing my incursions into red meat and animal fats — cheese was the first wedge into this territory, but I’ve since moved all the way to (pork) carnitas and carne asada — and needing to order in some milk from Safeway, I thought to reconsider the store’s other soups, so I searched on “deli soups” on the Safeway site.

And got a notice — new in my experience — that this search was powered by AI. Instead of the expected inventory of Safeway’s dozen or so or deli soups, I got only three such soups, and these three were scattered among a huge number of listings for canned soups (from various companies). Not deli soups at all, but just soups; in fact, towards the end of the list, it branched into canned meats. So a massive AI screw-up.


Snacks for the team

August 30, 2023

Recently appeared in my comics feed, this One Big Happy strip from 2013, in which Ruthie and Joe consult with their dad about what snacks he should bring after their next Little League game:

We get the astounding 1st inning score — tied at 48! — just tossed off for free in the second panel

The kids present their father with a minefield of food allergies and aversions — meat, peanuts, caffeine, sugar — for him to negotiate through.


Meat, meat, glorious meat!

August 25, 2023

As I recover from gall badder surgery, increasingly able to digest meat and fatty foods without mishap, I’ve developed a longing for challenging meat, especially beef, pork, and lamb. Not that I was a big meat-eater before the surgery, but being denied something makes you yearn for it all the more.

I had dreams about (pork) carnitas — something I adored but would have maybe twice in a year, as a kind of celebration of intense tastes. So I went to a well-reviewed source — Tacqueria El Grullo, 620 E Evelyn Ave in Sunnyvale — and ordered their (excellent) carnitas.

Their (minimal) description:

Carnitas: Chunks of braised pork. Served with a side of rice, refried beans and salad. [AZ: And, of course, soft (corn) tortillas, kept warm in aluminum foil. And, of course, containers of salsa verde and salsa roja.]

It then occurred to me that a side dish of some sort might be nice. On their appetizer menu, there was something new to me, though with a name that had a familiar part: asada fries. The El Grullo description:

Asada fries: French fries topped with melted cheese, beef, avocado & sour cream.

The beef would presumably be carne asada, chopped. I’ve been a fan of carne asada since I was introduced to it, in Chicago, back in the 1960s. Yes, go with the beef, marinated in lime juice and grilled and slightly charred, and finally chopped: GIVE ME MEAT. And then I thought: ah, asada fries must be the poutine of northern Mexico. And so (I discovered on further investigation) it was. Looks like a mess — it’s a lot of stuff jumbled together — but quite tasty. And undeniably meaty.


The Jerk Fest

August 22, 2023

On jerk, jerky, and jerking (off), quoting (in full) two excellent surveys of this domain: from the Grammarphobia site in 2016; from The Ringer site last month — the second of these using research by lexicographer Ben Zimmer reported on his Wall Street Journal column (which is behind a paywall).



August 21, 2023

In today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro: croissants as a characteristically French pastry; then pulling out the ANTS part of the spelling CROISSANTS (never mind how this word is actually pronounced, in either French or English) for a far-fetched pun, with two ants — the insects — exemplifying characteristics of the stereotypical Frenchman (Wayno’s title is “The French Bugs”):

(#1) Breton striped shirts, or marinières; berets; a pungent cigarette in a cigarette holder for Ant 1; a mustache (curled at the tips), French scarf, glass of wine, and baguette for Ant 2 (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page)