Monday, May 8, 2017

Historic American Food & Drink Terms from A-Z: Do You Recognize Any of These?

Isleta Bread or Bear Claw 
Image Source: Wikipedia
I finally had the opportunity to visit Manhattan's phenomenal bookstore, The Strand, which contains over 18 miles of books, new and used. Of course, I drifted over to the food and cooking section and was happy to find the out-of-print book, The Dictionary of American Food & Drink by John Mariani (New York, 1983). This book contains a lot of terms inspired by American cowboys, loggers, Native Americans, or by region. Below are some of Mariani's entries for culinary terms that are unusual, out-of-use, or just plain interesting. Disclosure: Some of Mariani's history is sketchy  or incomplete but the names are fun!

How many do you recognize?  Enjoy!

Adam's Ale: Slang for water. A colloquialism based on the assumption that the only drink Adam had in the Bible was water; this term [was] often heard in soda fountains and at lunch counters.

Brush Roast: A North Carolina term for a dish of oysters cooked on a wire netting over a wood fire and served with butter, chow-chow, and corn bread.

Cackleberry:  A logger's term for an egg. The cackle refers to the sound made by chickens, and in prison lingo eggs are referred to as 'cacklers" (or 'shells').

Dusty Miller: A sundae made with powdered malted-milk topping. The term derives from a noctuid moth of the same name whose speckled wings resemble the dusty topping on the sundae. The moth's name is first mentioned in port in 1909; the sundae probably dates from the 1920s.

Eatin' Iron: Cowboy slang term for a knife, fork, or spoon.

Franconia Potatoes: Boiled potatoes baked with butter. The name refers to the Franconia range of the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The recipe below is from a 1944 cookbook: Boil potatoes in salted water, place in a buttered pan, pour melted butter over them, season with salt and pepper, and bake till browned at 400º.

Grape Pie: A pie made from eastern grapes of the Labrusca variety and its hybrids. This pie in some form was originally made by the Indians living along the vine-rich regions of Canandaigua Lake in New York, and it is rarely made anywhere else in the United States.

Herman: A Midwest colloquialism for a bread starter, often kept over decades.

Isleta Bread: A Pueblo Indian bread shaped like a bear's claw, hence the alternate names 'bear claw' or 'paw bread'.

Jake: An alcoholic beverage made from Jamaican ginger during the Prohibition era. The name comes from its allusion to Jamaica.

Kishka: A Jewish-American baked sausage made with meat, flour, and spices. The word, from the Russian for 'intestines,' was the first first printed circa 1936.

Larrup: Cowboy term for molasses, which was also called 'long sweetening,' The origin of the name is unknown, though the same word in dialectical English means a 'beating.'

Mountain Oyster: The testicles of the bull, pig, or lamb. Sometimes called  "Rocky Mountain oysters,' they are usually breaded ad fried in the West. The name derives from the general appearance of the final product and not a little euphemism. It is a term used both by cowboys and meat packinghouse workers.

Nioi: A Hawaiian 'chili water,' made with chili peppers, water, and salt, that serves as a seasoning for various dishes.

Ohio Pudding: A pudding of sweet potatoes, carrots, and brown sugar, popular in Ohio.

Pair of Overalls: Cowboy term for an order of two drinks served at once.

Quaking Custard: A cream custard of New England around which are garnished egg whites. The name refers to the quivering texture of the dish.

Rum Tum Tiddy: A New England blend of tomato soup and Cheddar cheese served as a main course.

Salt Hoss: Cowboy's term for corned beef.

Trapper's Butter: Trapper's term for bone-marrow of a killed animal, which was often made into a thickened broth.

Underwears: A cowboy's term for sheep.

Valley Tan: Trader's term for a whiskey made by the  Mormons of Salt Lake Valley.

Whistle Berries: A cowboy's term for beans, perhaps because of the flatulence they often cause.

Yale Boat Pie: A dish made with layers of meat, poultry, and shellfish set in a pastry crust. The name comes from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut . . . .

Zephyrina: A North Caarolina cookie baked by both the Indians and the early settlers of the territory. The name derives from the Latin, zephyrs, for 'wind,' because of their light, airy quality. Combine 2 cups flour, 1 tbs. butter, salt, and enough water to make an elastic dough. Roll thin, cut into rounds, prick with fork, and bake till browned in a 375º oven.

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