Caesar

Ah the Caesar salad!  Who doesn’t love an authentic caesar salad made table side?  Anchovies, raw egg, garlic!  It’s all so delicious. Unless you have a fear of salmonella. 

Why is it called the Caesar salad?  Did Julius Caesar eat them?  Actually the Caesar salad was born in Tijuana, Mexico.  The father of the Caesar salad, Caesar Cardini, was an Italian immigrant to Mexico City.   He worked for a while in Mexico City with European gastronomy.  Then a move to Sacramento positioned him to run a restaurant.  Later he moved to San Diego and did the same.  So why leave the beautiful scenery of San Diego for Tijuana?  Prohibition!  It was there in Tijuana where he created that now famous dressing.  He opened up many of his own restaurants in both Mexico and the United States.  

Advertisements

Supper Vs. Dinner

I have always used the term ‘dinner’ to mean the evening time meal, so I was surprised to learn that many Americans use it to mean ‘lunch’.  In parts of the country where their dinner is my lunch the term supper is used to mean the evening meal.  This discrepancy comes from the idea that dinner is the biggest meal of the day.  In some places, especially rural ones, the largest meal of the day comes closer to noon.  This midday feast is meant to give hard workers sustenance to last until dusk.  Supper comes from the word ‘soup’.  It was common to put the scraps in a pot and boil them all day until there was soup at the end of the day.  

Dinner has an interesting etymology as well.  When the term dinner was invented there were only two meals of the day.  Here is what wikipedia says about the topic: The word is from the Old French (ca 1300) disner, meaning “breakfast”, from the stem of Gallo-Romancedesjunare (“to break one’s fast”), from Latin dis- (“undo”) + Late Latin ieiunare (“to fast”), from Latin ieiunus (“fasting, hungry”).

Today we eat breakfast, which is following the etymology of dinner.  The moral of the story is that what we eat and when we eat varies between region and era.   

Quote of the Week

People who love to eat are always the best people.

Julia Child

Mousse

I hope not to upset your appetite but the work mousse actually comes from French and means froth or scum. This word has no relation to the word moose which comes from Algonquian meaning ‘he strips off’ in reference to the moose striping off bark from trees. 

Kimchi

Kimchi, or gimchi as it might be called, is Korea’s national dish.  This fermented vegetable dish is so beloved by the Korean people that during the Vietnam war the Korean troops were upset without it.  South Korean President Park Chung-hee told Johnson that the food was “vitally important to the morale of Korean troops”.    

Chimichanga

There are two stories vying for the official history of the chimichanga.  The ‘chimi’, as it is also known, is a burrito that has been deep fried.  Phoenix and Tucson both have restauranteurs who claim to have been the first to drop the burrito into the hot oil.  Macayo’s Mexican restaurant in Phoenix say that they invented it, but the one I’m more apt to believe is El Charro in Tucson.  El Charro has been around longer and they have an explanation for the name.  Apparently, when the burrito was accidentally dropped into the hot oil the owner started to say “chingada” (excuse my Spanish), but realized the presence of youngsters in time to say chimichanga meaning thingamajig.

The greatest thing since sliced bread

“The greatest thing since sliced bread” is often said as a joke.  Sliced bread seems mundane and obvious to us.  But although the concept of sliced bread is simple, the machine that slices it is an engineering feat.  Thirteen years in the making, it finally came to be used commercially in 1928.  Sliced bread (obviously) was a huge hit.  And the phrase “greatest thing since sliced bread” was once used as a sincere marketing catch phrase.  In 1943 the government actually banned sliced bread to conserve metal for the war effort. There was such an uproar that the ban was discontinued shortly thereafter.  

Quote of the Week

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

Julia Child

Ham

Apparently calling someone a ‘ham’ has it’s origin in some politically incorrect history.  The original phrase for an over-actor was ham-fatter but it has since been shortened.  

Minstrel shows were old-timey shows with jokes and comedy (albeit racist comedy) involving white and black actors in black face make-up.  These actors were considered lesser actors by their screen and theater counterparts.  So a ham is someone who tries to overact, not understanding the subtleties of the art.  

The main theories of origin are that these actors used ham fat to remove the black face make-up.  The other origin story says it generated from the popular minstrel song “The Ham-Fat Man”.  Anyone who would sing that song was an actor of poor taste.  

 

Cure

Cure now means a remedy, an absolute termination of a disease.  But it used to mean to take care of.  From this sense we get the words curate and curator, positions of caring for souls and objects respectively.  But why do we call meat that has been altered for preservation or just for the sake of taste cured?  Curing meat involves salt, nitrates, nitrite or sugar.  It probably has something to do with caring for the food to make sure it has been preserved.  

Blog at WordPress.com.