Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Euphemistically Speaking…

There is no such thing as a Chilean Sea Bass. It is a Patagonian Toothfish, and it ain’t pretty.

Prunes are a victim of the success of marketers who wanted us to associate them too much with bowel movements; now they are known as Dried Plums. Which is what they in fact, are.

You might think using Rapeseed Oil is politically incorrect because of the whole “rape” thing. So you use Canola Oil instead with no qualms. It’s the same thing.

A Chinese Gooseberry might sound a tad too exotic, but you’d eat a Kiwi, right? Well, it’s not all that exotic if you’re in New Zealand, which is where it grows.

Would you like some Dolphinfish? No? Why ever not? How about some Mahi Mahi instead?

You’ve probably had some delicious Slimehead. You won’t have called it that, however. You’d have asked for some Orange Roughy.

I expect you enjoy steaks, chops and ribs too. Yes, ribs.

There is a significant connection between how we perceive a food and our physical response to it — and what something is called plays an important part in that. Thus it is that we have a long tradition of simply changing the names of foods to ease them into the public maw if the original name proves unappealing.

Sometimes there’s a battle between those who want all foods described literally (high fructose corn syrup) and those with a more poetic bent to mask the truth with prettier words (corn sugar).

During the 1940s, there was a great push to call offal “Variety Meats” in order to persuade housewives on a budget to find new sources of protein. Cookbooks were the front line in this effort, but as the Cutco Cook Book shows, the authors / illustrators didn’t really get it. On the one hand the chapter is Variety Meats; and thereafter follows the bits and bobs in all their anatomically-named glory. At least in the days when most folks actually ate offal because they had no choice the language was more sensitive to this dilemma. A sheep’s lungs were called “lights.”

Surely there can be another word for “brains”?

(Note also the unfortunate illustration that probably means to depict three chefs dancing with excitement about the prospect of cooking offal, but instead appear to be fending off swarms of flies attracted to it.)

Cutco Cook Book, Margaret Mitchell, 1956

Also from this book: Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road? 
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