Archive for the ‘Names’ Category

Annals of appalling food

June 20, 2018

Chicken fried steak is a thing. So is chicken fried chicken, closely based on chicken fried steak (but essentially chicken Schnitzel or chicken Milanesa, an entirely reasonable culinary adventure). And now: chicken fried bacon, similarly based on chicken fried steak, but with no justification I can see beyond wretched excess for its own sake. The photo:

Chicken fried bacon with cream gravy from Snook, Texas in 2002


Fried eggs and fairy wands

June 18, 2018

Also blazing stars, gayfeathers, and wandflowers. All plants, colorfully named. Providing a little exercise in taxonomic names vs. common names.

The fried eggs come from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky, who posted this on her Facebook page yesterday:

(#1) EDZ: “Portrait mode makes fried egg flowers even more absurd” (by erasing the flower stem, so that the flower appears to be floating in the air)

The fairy wands I came across at Palo Alto’s Gamble Gardens this morning:

(#2) Angel’s (fishing) rods, wand flowers, or fairy wands


Why? Why?

June 17, 2018

Because we can. And we think it’s clever. And cute.

But why try to read the minds of people who do these things? Just sit back and admire their artisanal pigs in blankets. On a Pinterest board:


Proper nouns

June 16, 2018

In the One Big Happy of May 30th, Ruthie falls into the pit of use and mention:

There’s an adjective proper as defined by Ruthie’s mother. Then there’s the adjective proper in the idiomatic nominals proper noun / name. And that’s just the beginning of the problem.


Background foods and food discoveries

June 15, 2018

The spur: this brief moment from the NYT obit for chef, author, tv personality, and social critic Anthony Bourdain, by Kim Severson, Matthew Haag, and Julia Moskin, on-line on the 8th as “Anthony Bourdain, Renegade Chef Who Reported From the World’s Tables, Is Dead at 61”, in print on the 9th as “Anthony Bourdain, Renegade Chef, Dies at 61; Showed the World How to ‘Eat Without Fear'”:


He first became conscious of food in fourth grade, he wrote in “Kitchen Confidential.” Aboard the Queen Mary on one of the family’s frequent trips to France, he sat in the cabin-class dining room and ate a bowl of vichyssoise, a basic potato-leek soup that held the delightful surprise of being cold. “It was the first food I enjoyed and, more important, remembered enjoying,” he wrote.


Midnight in Cuba

June 14, 2018

From Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown: “Miami” (S5 E2, 5/3/15), as quoted in the site‘s “19 best quotes” from the episode:

4. [Bourdain] On the medianoche sandwich: “Many of you watching who are dimly aware of Miami and this sandwich thing they call a Cubano that you may or may not have had before, you’re thinking, ‘Yes, a Cubano sandwich.’ But you’d be wrong. This, is not a Cubano sandwich, strictly speaking. This, my friends, is a medianoche. Close. A cousin. Like a Cubano, it’s got roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and a little mustard. And like a Cubano it’s pressed until hot and runny inside. But:”

5. [Miami chef Michelle] Bernstein, interrupting, on the medianoche sandwich: “You see the bread? It’s darker and it’s sweeter, so you have a real contrast with the salty pickles and the pork, and the bread.”

Una medianoche, uno Cubano. Not the same, because the bread is different (and maybe the kind of pork or the kind of ham or the pickles or the mustard). I can get uno Cubano at my local Whole Foods (and often do) — “slow roasted pork, Black Forest ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard” — and it seems to be pretty authentic, except that it’s on a French roll. Best not to argue names and ingredients and authenticity.


White stars on a field of green

June 7, 2018

Notable feature of the grounds on the condo complex at the northwest corner of Ramona St. and Homer Ave. (half a block from my house), a carpet of Myoporum parvifolium, with its fleshy leaves and small 5-petaled flowers, as in this photo from the net:


A few years ago, the original water-greedy plantings around the complex were ripped out and replaced by low-water alternatives, including this handsome ground cover, which has been spreading nicely to fill the area.

To come: on this plant; its cousin M. insulare; the common name boobialla for these plants; and other plants in their family, especially in the genus Verbascum, the mulleins.


Panic in Quercy Park

June 2, 2018

On the oak-leaved hydrangeas, Hydrangea quercifolia, which have burst into bloom all over my neighborhood: big shrubs with big oak-like leaves (the oaks providing the querc– in my title’s quercy) and creamy white flowers in big panicles (the panic of my title and of panic grass). With a note on H. quercifolia‘s close relative, H. paniculata. A digression on South American creatures irrelevantly named querque /’kerke/ in Spanish. Then, inevitably, on panicles and panic grasses (genus Panicum). Don’t panic.

(#1) H. quercifolia in a woodland setting


Typewriter poets

June 1, 2018

The Zippy from the 30th, with the Dingburg School of beatnik typewriter poets:

They compose on their typewriters, creating poetic texts that are (to the untrained eye) just strings of characters. Their names are absurd combinations of words Bill Griffith finds attractive or risible: Feldspar Hatband, Mulch Onionskin. (I am especially fond of feldspar myself, have been for years.)


A plant too invasive even for me

May 31, 2018

Ann Burlingham asked on Facebook for an identification of a plant in her Pittsburgh garden, which turned out to be Houttuynia cordata, chameleon plant:


A stunningly invasive plant, which spreads by what I’ve called dragon-toothing: any tiny bit of the plant will root and turn into a new plant. In Columbus OH, I engaged in what I thought of as “gardening with invasive plants”, but there were a few plants that were too invasive even for me, and this was one.