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myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

You Ordered The WHAT?

There’s a lot of fun to be had in the names of foods.  Some can sound terrible, even disgusting, and be just delicious. Some dishes can have names that have nothing whatsoever to do with what is in them. And some are just funny.

When’s the last time you saw Crapaudine (crap-oh-DEEN) on a menu?  There is a reason this dish doesn’t get out much: Who wants to ask for something that sounds that rude?  Worse, if you know a little French, you realize that it means “toad style”, sometimes interpreted as “frog style,” and I’m not talking about the legs. In reality, it’s just a small bird, usually squab, quail or chicken, flattened so that it will cook evenly and make a nice presentation which, by the way looks a little like a toad.

How about some Stinko instead?  If you’ve enjoyed osso bucco, braised veal shank slices, you’ve been close. Stinko is simply the whole shank, usually served by carving long slices with the grain, tender because it’s been cooked so long.

Had any Tinkling Bells lately? This is a relatively simple Chinese dumpling like dish of seasoned pork wrapped in bean curd and deep fried. The name comes from the crunch you should hear when biting into it.

Then there are the things that just sound unappealing, combinations that simply should not be.

Chicken and Waffles is one of these.  If you’re from the North, this sounds bizarre, but in reality it’s a favorite of Southern cuisine. We don’t think twice about combining fried chicken with cornbread or biscuits, right?

I was reminded of this treat when filling out a Facebook quiz: The Food List Challenge, 100 Foods to Eat Before You Die. The food referenced in the quiz, Chicken and Waffles, is not just a random choice of things one might eat at two different meals. Rather, it is a classic pairing, a heavenly juxtaposition of crispy fried chicken on the same plate as waffles with butter and some kind of syrup.

My introduction to this delicacy was at the Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, CA (www.brownsugarkitchen.com/). I was skeptical, but then the impeccably buttermilk fried chicken arrived shatteringly crisp and greaseless, accompanied by a giant, extremely crunchy waffle, brown sugar butter and apple cider syrup. One bite and I was in love.

The combination of salty/sweet/crispy was amazing, akin to kettle corn but with the added complexity of the perfectly seasoned, juicy chicken. Of course, the chicken has to be perfect, as well as the waffles.

Some things have confusing names.  Nobody thinks that spaghetti sauce is made out of pasta, and everyone knows that lobster sauce in a Chinese restaurant is a sauce meant to serve on lobster.

But I recently heard Chris O’Reilly interviewing one of his young musicians on his NPR program, “From The Top” (www.fromthetop.org/) and going on and on about duck sauce and ice cream actually went together. Of course they do; it’s not a sauce made out of duck, it’s a sweet, fruity condiment meant to go with duck.

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4 thoughts on “You Ordered The WHAT?

  1. Anne Tornillo on said:

    I just love your tidbits and the accompanting chuckles!!!

  2. Of course the latest combination that is sweeping the nation is bacon and everything: bacon muffins, bacon martinis, bacon bits in ice cream, etc. “Yum! ” I say. When I was little I loved bacon and peanut butter sandwiches.

    • Excellent. French chefs were generous in bestowing names to please their employers and named dishes after battles won and more often after ladies that established fame via the royal bed.

  3. I have one for your digest – PUKE – I found this on the minibar menu in a (relatively) small, obscure Chinese city in Jiangxi Provice. Of course I took a picture of it – I recall it cost 6 RMB. Later, I discovered it is the name of an energy drink (even funnier) and is pronounced POO-KER. Enjoy!

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