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1. A quiz on Prohibition

Old Man Prohibition hung in effigy from a flagpole as New York celebrated the advent Repeal after years of bootleg booze. Source: NYPL.

How much do you know about the era of Prohibition, when gangsters rose to power and bathtub gin became a staple? 2013 marks the 80th anniversary of the repeal of the wildly unpopular 18th Amendment, initiated on 17 February 1933 when the Blaine Act passed the United States Senate. To celebrate, test your knowledge with this quiz below, filled with tidbits of 1920s trivia gleaned from The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America: Second Edition.

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The second edition of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America thoroughly updates the original, award-winning title, while capturing the shifting American perspective on food and ensuring that this title is the most authoritative, current reference work on American cuisine. Editor Andrew F. Smith teaches culinary hist ory and professional food writing at The New School University in Manhattan. He serves as a consultant to several food television productions (airing on the History Channel and the Food Network), and is the General Editor for the University of Illinois Press’ Food Series. He has written several books on food, including The Tomato in America, Pure Ketchup, and Popped Culture: A Social History of Popcorn in America. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink is also available on Oxford Reference.

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2. Comfort food

By Georgia Mierswa


This Valentine’s Day-themed tech post was supposed to be just that—a way to show that all that sexy metadata powering the Oxford Index’s sleek exterior has a sweet, romantic side, just like the rest of the population at this time of year. I’d bounce readers from a description of romantic comedies to Romeo and Juliet to the three-act opera Elegy for Young Lovers, and then change the Index’s featured homepage title to something on the art of love to complete the heart shaped, red-ribboned picture.

I didn’t do any of these things. I got distracted. As it turns out, searching the word “chocolate” (“It is not addictive like nicotine but some people, ‘chocoholics’, experience periodic cravings”) reveals a whole smorgasbord of suggested links to delectable food summaries and from my first glimpse at the makings of a meringue, I was gone—making mental notes for recipes, stomach rumbling, eyes-glazing over. Mmm glaze.

In the end, my “research” was actually quite fitting to the season. Because, really, when it comes to Valentine’s Day in the 21st century, only a handful of things are reliable and certain—and almost all of them are made with sugar.

Best Mouthwatering Dessert Descriptions


Best Quote About Doughnuts…or Anything

“When Krispy Kremes are hot, they are to other doughnuts what angels are to people.”
– Humor writer Roy Blount Jr, New York Times Magazine

Best Etymology Entry

  Snack was originally a verb, meaning ‘bite, snap’. It appears to have been borrowed, in the fourteenth century, from Middle Dutch snacken, which was probably onomatopoeic in origin, based on the sound of the snapping together of teeth… The modern verb snack, ‘eat a snack,’ mainly an American usage, is an early nineteenth-century creation.

Top 5 Favorite Random Food Facts

  1. Attempts to can beer before 1930 were unsuccessful because a beer can has to withstand pressures of over eighty pounds per square inch.
  2. Brownies are essentially the penicillin of the baking world.
  3.  Boston is the brains behind Marshmallow Fluff.
  4. There is such a thing as the “Queen of Puddings” …and it sounds amazing:
  5.   Pudding made from custard and breadcrumbs, flavoured with lemon rind and vanilla, topped with jam or sliced fruit and meringue.
  6. Cupcakes are known by some as “fairy cakes”.


Best Relevancy Jump

The overview page for “cake”….

  Plain cakes are made by rubbing the fat and sugar into the flour, with no egg; sponge cakes by whipping with or without fat; rich cakes contain dried fruit.

….leads to a surprising related link: “Greek sacrifice”

  Vegetable products, esp. savoury cakes, were occasionally ‘sacrificed’ (the same vocabulary is used as for animal sacrifice) in lieu of animals or, much more commonly, in addition to them. But animal sacrifice was the standard type.

The Entry I Wish I Hadn’t Found:

  Flaky crescent-shaped rolls traditionally served hot for breakfast, made from a yeast dough with a high butter content. A 50‐g croissant contains 10 g of fat of which 30% is saturated.

Best Food-Related Band Names

 
Best Overall Summary of What Food Is

  Food is a form of communication that expresses the most deeply felt human experiences: love, fear, joy, anger, serenity, turmoil, passion, rage, pleasure, sorrow, happiness, and sadness.

Georgia Mierswa is a marketing assistant at Oxford University Press and reports to the Global Marketing Director for online products. She began working at OUP in September 2011.

The Oxford Index is a free search and discovery tool from Oxford University Press. It is designed to help you begin your research journey by providing a single, convenient search portal for trusted scholarship from Oxford and our partners, and then point you to the most relevant related materials — from journal articles to scholarly monographs. One search brings together top quality content and unlocks connections in a way not previously possible. Take a virtual tour of the Index to learn more.

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Image credit: Croissants chauds sortis du four. Photo by Christophe Marcheux/Deelight, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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3. Roast Goose, the Mrs Beeton way

With Christmas approaching, we are looking towards the food we’ll share on the day itself. If you’re looking for ideas, who better to consult that Mrs Isabella Beeton herself, who authored the seminal Household Management at just 22 years old. Below is her sage advice on that classic Christmas meat, roast goose.

Ingredients:
Goose
4 large onions
10 sage-leaves
¼ lb. of bread crumbs
1 ½ oz. of butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg

Choosing and Trussing
Select a goose with a clean white skin, plump breast, and yellow feet: if these latter are red, the bird is old. Should the weather permit, let it hang for a few days: by so doing, the flavour will be very much improved. Pluck, singe, draw, and carefully wash and wipe the goose; cut off the neck close to the back, leaving the skin long enough to turn over; cut off the feet at the first joint, and separate the pinions at the first joint. Beat the breast-bone flat with a rolling-pin, put a skewer though the under part of each wing, and having drawn up the legs closely, put a skewer into the middle of each, and pass the same quite through the body. Insert another skewer into the small of the leg, bring it close down to the side bone, run it through, and do the same to the other side. Now cut off the end of the vent, and make a hole in the skin sufficiently large for the passage of the rump, in order to keep in the seasoning.

Mode
Make a sage-and-onion stuffing of the above ingredients; put it into the body of the goose, and secure it firmly at both ends, by passing the rump through the hole made in the skin, and the other end by tying the skin of the neck to  the back; by this means the seasoning will not escape. Put it down to a brisk fire, keep it well basted, and roast from 1 ½ to 2 hours, according to the size. Remove the skewers, and serve with a tureen of good gravy, and one of well-made apple-sauce. Should a very highly-flavoured seasoning be preferred, the onions should not be parboiled, but minced raw: of the two methods, the mild seasoning in far superior. A ragout, or pie, should be made of the giblets, or they may be stewed down to make gravy. Be careful to serve the goose before the breast falls, or its appearance will be spoiled by coming flattened to the table. As this is rather a troublesome joint to carve, a large quantity of gravy should not be poured round the goose, but sent in a tureen.

Time – A large goose, 1 ¾ hour; a moderate-sized one, 1 ¼ hour to 1 ½ hour.

Seasonable from September to March; but in perfection from Michaelmas to Christmas.

Average cost, 5s. 6d. each. Sufficient for 8 or 9 persons.

Note
A teaspoon of made mustard, a saltspoonful of salt, a few grains of cayenne, mixed with a glass of port wine, are sometimes poured into the goose by a slit made in the apron. This sauce is, by many persons, considered an improvement.

Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management is a founding text of Victorian middle-class identity. It offers highly authoritative advice on subjects as diverse as fashion, child-care, animal husbandry, poisons, and the management of servants. The Oxford World’s Classics edition is an abridged version, edited by Nicola Humble, which does justice to its high status as a cookery book, while also suggesting ways of approaching this massive, hybrid text as a significant document of social and cultural history.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Image credit: Crispy grilled goose for Christmas. Photo by Chikei Yung, iStockphoto.

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4. Christmas dinner with the Cratchits

Following yesterday’s recipe for roast goose by Mrs Beeton, here’s that classic Christmas dinner portrayed by Charles Dickens in the famous scene from A Christmas Carol. Here Ebeneezer Scrooge watches with the Ghost of Christmas Present as the Cratchit family sits down to roast goose and Christmas pudding.

‘And how did little Tim behave?’ asked Mrs Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.

‘As good as gold,’ said Bob, ‘and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk, and blind men see.’

Bob’s voice was tremulous when he told them this, and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing strong and hearty.

His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool before the fire; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs — as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby — compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Master Peter, and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession.

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose the rarest of all birds; a feathered phenomenon, to which a black swan was a matter of course — and in truth it was something very like it in that house. Mrs Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner at the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs Cratchit, looking slowly all along the carving knife, prepared to plunge it in the breast; but when she did, and when the long expected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife, and feebly cried Hurrah!

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn’t believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of bone upon the dish), they hadn’t ate it all particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the eyebrows! But now, the plates being changed by Miss Belinda, Mrs Cratchit left the room alone — too nervous to bear witness — to take the pudding up and bring it in.

Suppose it should not be done enough! Suppose it should break in turning out! Suppose somebody should have got over the wall of the back-yard, and stolen it, while they were merry with the goose — and supposition at which the two young Cratchits became livid! All sorts of horrors were supposed.

Hallo! A great deal of steam! The pudding was out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day! That was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a pastrycook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that! That was the pudding! In half a minute Mrs Cratchit entered — flushed by smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half-a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christmas holly stuck into the top.

Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs Cratchit said that now the weight was off her mind, she would confess she had her doubts about the quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed to hint at such a thing.

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a shovel-full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the Cratchit family drew round the hearth, in what Bob Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at Bob Cratchit’s elbow stood the family display of glass. Two tumblers, and a custard-cup without a handle.

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as well as golden goblets would have done; and Bob served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob proposed:

‘A Merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!’ Which all the family re-echoed.

‘God bless us every one!’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.

A Christmas Carol has gripped the public imagination since it was first published in 1843, and it is now as much a part of Christmas as mistletoe or plum pudding. The Oxford World’s Classics edition, edited by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, reprints the story alongside Dickens’s four other Christmas Books: The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Image credit: Reproduced from a c.1870s photographer frontispiece to Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. By Frederick Barnard (1846-1896). Digital image from LIFE. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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5. Christmas beers

By Garrett Oliver


For those of us who celebrate Christmas, this time of year is resplendent with sights, songs, and smells that bring the holiday instantly to mind. Most of us who grew up with a real Christmas tree in the house are instantly transported by the smell of a freshly cut fir tree. For others, it’s the smell of pies baking. For the ancients, it was frankincense and myrrh. For me… it’s latex paint. Wait, I can explain! As many families do, we always had a lot of people over to the house around Christmastime, and many of them were folks who might only visit once a year. So the holidays were a natural time to spruce the house up, including whatever interior painting needed doing that year. So my olfactory memory of Christmas blends pine needles, interior latex eggshell paint, pies baking, and the unique smell of brand new plastic toys and electronics. At one time, though, especially in Europe, one of the classic smells of the Yuletide was Christmas ale.

Brewers have always made special beers for religious holidays, and over the last few hundred years Christmas ales have been popular during the holiday season. Though Christmas ale is basically a catch-all descriptive phrase, these beers tend to have several things in common. Almost all of them are dark, or at least go for a rich amber color suggesting heartiness. They also tend to be stronger than average, ranging from 5.5% at the low end to more than 14% for age-worthy after-dinner beers. Belgium, England, Scandinavia, and the United States are all major producers of these beers, though in this country we tend to use more inclusive names such as holiday ale. At one time, especially in England, Christmas ales were often spiced and sometimes mulled. Wines, ales, and ciders were often served this way around the holidays and were referred to collectively as wassail, a drink often consumed while caroling. Today, many American craft breweries produce spiced ales at the holidays, harking back to the old tradition.

As you go shopping for your Christmas table, remember that beer can work wonders with a wide array of holiday foods. Belgian saison, Belgian witbier (white beer), and Bavarian weissbier (also known as hefeweizen, the fruity German wheat beer style) are light and spritzy, making them great earlier in the day, especially with brunch. As you move into dinner, French farmhouse ales, called bières de garde, have nice caramel and earthy anise-like flavors, making them particularly good with turkey and ham. Belgian Christmas ales, almost universally dark, strong and plummy, are great with lamb, duck, and goose.

Traditional Mexican cuisine reaches some its greatest heights at Christmas, when people make the complex and time-consuming dark mole sauces, many of them based on nuts, chilies, and chocolate. Served with chicken, duck or the traditional turkey, these can be wonderful with rich, dark porter beers; there the roast character of the beer will pick up perfectly on the chocolate in the sauce. Also from Mexico, one of my favorite Christmas dishes is chile en nogada, a poblano pepper stuffed with spiced minced pork and fruit, covered in a walnut-based frosting, and studded with pomegranate seeds. It’s as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat, and it’s great with those massive West Coast “double IPAs”. The big hop flavors really pick up on the flavor of the poblano pepper, while the bitterness provides the cutting power for this super-rich dish.

After dinner it’s time for big chocolaty imperial stouts and fruity, warming barley wines. While they aren’t sweet, both of these have enough residual sugar to work with desserts, and they’re often a far better match than dessert wines. Barley wines, which are well-aged beers usually over 9% ABV, bring concentrated malt and dark fruit flavors that are great with cheeses, especially the British Christmas classic, Stilton. Many years ago, shortly after Christmas, I visited with a friend in the English countryside. “Mummy always gets a Stilton at Christmas” he intoned, and the Stilton — at least a foot across — was wheeled out on its own purpose-built cart. It looked like it could feed a family of five for the entire winter, and I’ve little doubt that it actually did. Some British barley wine was a magnificent accompaniment. Imperial stouts are at least as good with Stilton, and even better with desserts, especially ice cream, chocolate cakes, tarts, and all sorts of cookies.

Finally, Christmas is a great time to go out and put together a little after-dinner beer tasting. Many of the world’s greatest beers cost scarcely more than a fancy cup of coffee. If you’re having people over or going to visit friends and family, why not gather up ten beers you’ve been curious to taste? There will be plenty of people to taste them with you, and hopefully plenty of time for tasting. After all, Christmas isn’t just for the kids, and although you might not be unwrapping a bright yellow Tonka truck on Christmas morning, adulthood does have its privileges. For the designated drivers (our heroes!), make some ludicrously sinful spiced hot chocolate; my personal favorite is from Jacques Torres. Here’s wishing everyone a happy, healthy, wonderful Christmas — and don’t forget to touch up the paint.

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, is the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. He has won many awards for his beers, is a frequent judge for international beer competitions, and has made numerous radio and television appearances as a spokesperson for craft brewing.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, featuring more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. It is first place winner of the 2012 Gourmand Award for Best in the World in the Beer category, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and shortlisted in Food and Travel for Book of the Year in the Drinks Category. View previous Oxford Companion to Beer blog posts and videos.

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Image credit: Pint of beer by the fireside. Photo by Marbury, iStockphoto.

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6. Quiz on the word origins of food and drink

Did you know that ‘croissant’ literally means ‘crescent’ or that oranges are native to China? Do you realize that the word ‘pie’ has been around for seven hundred years in English or that ‘toast’ comes from the Latin word for ‘scorch’? John Ayto explores the word origins of food and drink in The Diner’s Dictionary. We’ve made a little quiz based on the book. Are you hungry for it?

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John Ayto is a freelance writer and the author of many reference works, including the Dictionary of Slang, the Dictionary of Modern Slang, and Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Seasoned generously with literary wit, The Diner’s Dictionary is a veritable feast, tracing the origins and history of over 2,300 gastronomical words and phrases.

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7. The phonetic taste of coffee

By Anatoly Liberman

All sources inform us about the Arabic-Turkish home of the word coffee, though in the European languages some forms were taken over directly from Arabic, so that the etymological part of the relevant entry in dictionaries and encyclopedias needs modification.  There is a possibility of coffee being connected with the name of the kingdom of Kaffa, but this question need not bother us at the moment.  The main puzzle is the development of the form coffee rather than its distant origin.  The OED is, as always, helpful, but particularly instructive is the array of variants found in a book with the funny title Hobson-Jobson.  Far from being a book of humor, it is a wonderful dictionary of Anglo-Indian words.  In its pages we find recollections about a very good drink called Chaube (1573), Caova (1580), cohoo (1609) and, surprisingly for such an early date, coffee (also 1609), cahue (1615), coho, and copha (1628).  The route to Europe is supposed to be from Arabic quahwa via Turkish kahveh.  Later coffee became the standard form in English.  But, as we can see, there was no real progression: in 1609 some people said cohoo, while others already knew coffee.  The cause may be that the Arabic and the Persian pronunciations competed, one being prevalent on the coast of Arabia, the other in the mercantile towns.  The writers quoted above were mainly English, Dutch, French, and Italian.  All of them recorded the foreign word according to their speech habits, though some may have repeated what they had heard from their countrymen.  (Incidentally, the transliteration of the Turkish word as kahveh and the Arabic as qahwah may not be quite right, for the so-called round gaf of the Turkish word, as this consonant is known among the Anglo-Indians, sounds very much like Arabic q.  I would be grateful to specialists for either corroborating or refuting this statement.  Perhaps there are dialectal differences of which I am unaware.)

Several researchers wondered how hw could become f.  This, I think, is less of an enigma than many people think.  The opposite change of f to hv (with a guttural h, that is, kh, approximately as in German ach and Dutch Schipol) often occurs in non-standard Russian.  At one time, the consonant f was alien to it, and names like Filip (stress on the second syllable) turned into Khvilip.  The same substitution still happens in Russian dialects.  To produce the consonant f, one needs a passage of air (otherwise, the result will be p) and active lips (or at least an active lower lip).  The group hv satisfies both conditions, except that breath and the lips participate in its production consecutively instead of concurrently, as happens in f.  Since, as a general rule, seventeenth-century Europeans could not pronounce hw or hv, they combined both elements of articulation in one sound and ended up with f.  Its voiced partner v fits the situation even better, and we should applaud the man who wrote caovaChaube (that is, khaube) is a close relative of caova, because b is also a labial sound. Some speakers were lazy and left out w altogether; hence cohoo and its likes.  For comparison, one may cite Finnish kahvi and Polish kawa.

The vowels give us grief too.  Both Arabic and Turkish have a in the first syllable, while the English word has o.  The Dutch for coffee is also koffie, as opposed, for instance, to German K

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8. We also give thanks for beer

OUP’s Online Marketing Manager Stephanie Porter reflects on the beers to accompany her Thanksgiving meal.

Thanksgiving is all about tradition, and if you are like my family, your dinner will probably be served with wine. But having recently spent some time with The Oxford Companion to Beer and its Editor-in-Chief Garrett Oliver, I am thinking about adding a little twist to the end of the meal.

“Dessert, often thought of as the province of sweet wine, is actually usually better with beer. The maxim in wine—that the wine must be at least as sweet as the dessert—does not hold force with beer. In fact, it is the relief of sweetness from the palate that is the key to success. After a few forkfuls, the palate is overwhelmed by the sugar in most desserts. That is one reason why coffee often seems so pleasant with dessert; it is not nearly as sweet as the dessert.”

So after the turkey has been carved, eaten, and relocated to the fridge for tomorrow’s sandwiches, I will be breaking out a few choice beers to serve alongside my cousin’s famous French silk pie. Here are a few easy suggestions for incorporating a delicious brew into your Thanksgiving dinner. According to The New Republic reviewer Alexander Nazaryan, it might be almost as American as apple pie.

Pour a coffee flavored stout with your pecan pie:

Not to suggest that you have to forgo the coffee altogether, but my mouth starts to water just thinking about this pairing.

“Bigger beers with some caramel or roasted character tend to do best. With a chocolate tart, for example, we can pair a coffeeish, chocolaty imperial stout. In this pairing, we have both contrast and harmony—the
roasted malts match the chocolate, whereas the beer cleanses the palate of sweetness; the dessert can come back tasting fresh.”

I would aim for something with rich flavor, but that isn’t too heavy. I might go for two of my all-time favorite beers, Full Sail Session Black or Köstritzer Schwarzbier. But any of the beers listed in this link—Great Brewer’s Beers with a coffee flare—(or in your grocer’s isle) could have a similarly great effect.

Swap a Pumpkin Ale for your Pumpkin Pie:

As full as I am after a big meal, it just wouldn’t feel like Thanksgiving without a little something sweet to finish it all off. And since pumpkin ale is an American original, it seems even more fitting.

“As a general rule, pumpkin ale has an orange to amber color, a biscuit-like malt aroma, and a warming pumpkin aroma. Modern pumpkin ales are almost always made with “pumpkin pie spices,” which usually include cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and sometimes vanilla and ginger. The finish tends to be dry because of many fermentable sugars derived from the pumpkin.”

Pumpkin ale has seems like it has secured its place in bars and bottles across the country, so you should have no trouble picking up this new classic. I love the light flavor of Brooklyn’ Brewery’s Post Road Pumpkin Ale, but as this would be in lieu of pumpkin pie, I might go for something with even more pie-like goodness like Dogfish Head’s Punkin Ale. Check out Draft Magazine’s Pumpkin picks, too.

Pour a rich barrel-aged beer over vanilla ice cream:

This pairing is all about pleasant contrast. Concurrent with the flavor of the wood itself may be the flavor of whatever beverage the barrel h

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9. Hosting a holiday party with special guest Christmas ale

Oxford staffers Stephanie Porter, Tara Kennedy, and Lana Goldsmith are here to show you how to pair beer with cheer as we enter the holiday season.  Below is the first of our posts that will be featured every Thursday this month.

Now that the calendar has turned the page to December, holiday season is in full swing. Aside from the lights and decorations flooding streets and buildings everywhere, this is the season of holiday parties! We will be celebrating The Oxford Companion to Beer through the month of December, and to kick off the month, we are turning our attention to hosting a holiday beer tasting.

First, a brief overview of the season’s beer history about the special brews available this season from contributor Chris J. Marchbanks.

Christmas ales is a catch-all descriptive phrase given to special beers made for Christmas and New Year celebrations, often with a high alcohol content 5.5%–14% ABV and marked by the inclusion of dark flavored malts, spices, herbs, and fruits in the recipe. A medieval instance of a Christmas ale was called “lambswool”—made with roasted apples, nutmegs, ginger, and sugar (honey)—so-called because of the froth floating on the surface. Today’s versions tend to be based on old ale, strong ale, and barley wine recipes, using cinnamon, cumin, orange, lemon, coriander, honey, etc. to create a warming, dark, and luscious festive beer. See old ales and barley wine. This tradition is closely related with the “wassail”, a mulled wine, beer, or cider usually consumed while caroling or gathering for the Christmas season. Most country breweries produce a Christmas or seasonal ale, some with long histories—notably in Belgium, England, Scandinavia, and the United States—which are usually matured for many months. There is no fixed recipe for these special ales as it is an opportunity for the brewer to expand boundaries and explore new tasty ingredients for Christmas, as the brewer’s gift to yuletide. The category includes some of the strongest beers brewed in the world including Samiclaus, which is a rich, aged Doppelbock with 14% ABV, originally brewed by Hurlimann in Switzerland but now in Austria at the Eggenberg Brewery. In the United States, Christmas Ale at Anchor Brewing (also known as “Our Special Ale”) contains a different blend of spices every year and helped spawn an interest in Christmas ales in the early days of the craft beer movement.

Since beer can have a cornucopia of flavors in every glass, you and your guests talk about the subtleties of each different beer. I might play a matching game where everyone writes down what they taste, and then the host can read the flavors from the label; or steam the labels off and have each person guess which label goes with which beer based on design. Either way, you will want to know how to create the perfect pour, and luckily, we know just the man to show you.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Now that you have the pour down, what can you serve your beer in? It turns out that beer glassware has a long history, and the glass you serve it in matters. Take a quick tour of some of the elaborate glasses beer used to be served in, and grab some ideas of what will best suit your chosen suds.

Click here to view the embedded video.

You may not be an expert, but you are definitely ready to pepper your guests with a little beer wisdom. So have fun, b

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10. Another lesson from Garrett Oliver: rice in beer

Rice is not the first thing that comes to mind when you are drinking a nice, cold beer. And if you’re a beer connoisseur, even less so. For many years, it has been considered to be an affront to the institution of craft beer making to use rice. However, some beer makers are toying with the use of rice in beer again as homage to the practices that occurred before the Prohibition. This counterculture attitude reflects how beer brewers are looking to the past to evolve current drinkers’ palates. The following excerpt from the The Oxford Companion to Beer goes into detail on exactly how rice is used. Enjoy! — Nathalie

Anheuser-Busch is the largest single buyer of rice in the United States. Budweiser beer is brewed with rice making up a large portion of the grist.

[...]

It is commonly held, at least among craft brewers, that the use of rice in beer is to be abhorred. To quote Maureen Ogle, from an article in the LA Times, “Rice is considered by many brewers to be what the nasty, industrialized brewers use to water down their beer” and “craft brewers treat rice almost as if it were rat poison.” The article goes on to state that rice lowers the body, flavor and color of beers made with elevated rice adjunct levels, which seems rather to reinforce the notion.

In fact, German brewers arrived in America to find that it was difficult to make good beer using the high-protein, six-row barleys available in the United States at the time. Looking for ways to dilute the malt, they began to use rice and corn. The end result bears little resemblance to good German or Czech lagers but their customers enjoyed this form of beer and millions of people still do. Although rice may once have been a cheap alternative to barley malt, it no longer is. Sharply rising prices have resulted in much higher material costs for brewers employing rice in their mashes.

Interestingly, despite the assertions by many American craft brewers and beer enthusiasts that rice is anathema, some craft brewers are experimenting with production of “pre-Prohibition” lagers that mimic the beers made in the United States in the late 1800s. These are relatively highly hopped but are very light bodied, the result of the use of up to 20% rice in the mash. Other craft brewers are experimenting with the use of specialized rice types that actually add interesting flavors to the beers.

View more about this book on the

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11. Coffee or tea?

By Anatoly Liberman


It’s tea now.  Once again I have little to add to what anyone can find in the OED and other easily available sources, though it will be a pleasure to continue singing praises to Hobson Jobson, and there is a redeeming quality to this post: at the end I’ll say something about tea caddy.  But first here are three quotations.  “That excellent and by all physicians approved China drink called by the Chineans Tcha, and by other nations tay, alias tee, is sold at the Sultana Head Coffee House, London.” (Mercurius Politicus, Sept. 30, 1658; The Century Dictionary).  “I remember well how in 1681 I for the first time in my life drank thee at the house of an Indian chaplain, and how I could not understand how sensible men could think it a treat to drink what tasted no better than hay-water” (1726), and finally, “There is among our people, and particularly among the womankind a great abuse of Thee, not only that too much is drunk…but this is also an evil custom to drink it with a full stomach; it is better and more wholesome to make use of it when the process of digestion is pretty well finished…. It is also a great folly to use sugar candy with Thee” (1672; the last two quotations are from Hobson Jobson).  In 1545 Chiai was said “to remove fever, headache, stomach-ache, pain in the side or joints,” and many other ailments, including gout.  I remember reading similar nineteenth-century ads, except that they recommended cigars for alleviating pain and clearing the lungs.

It will be seen that the main question about tea is the same as about coffee, namely: How did the form tea conquer its numerous rivals?  And the rivals were indeed many, though they can be divided into two groups: those beginning with ch- and sounding cha, chai, and the like, and those beginning with t- and spelled tee, tea, thee, etc.  Both variants are still known in the European languages: for example, English has tea (like Malay te), while Russian has chai (like Chinese Mandarin chha, according to one system of transliteration), homophonous with the first syllable of the word China.  In this case, the Malay may have been an intermediary between China and the rest of the world, but the word’s source is Chinese, for, as Hobson Jobson explains, “te [is] the utterance attached to the character in the Fuh-kien dialect.”  Knowing nothing about Chinese, I can only repeat what specialists say, and they seem to be unanimous in explaining the origin of the two variants.

The numerous forms of coffee (see them in the post for November 23) show that there was no progression in the development of the English name of this beverage.  We only witnessed different episodes in the history of its adaptation—a usual process in the fortunes of exotic articles of trade, plant and animal names, and so forth.  The same holds for tea.  Different forms coexisted, were affected by the pronunciation and spelling of the word in other languages (in English, Dutch and French influence has to be reckoned with), and at long last one such form became standard.  The state of “peaceful coexistence” is testified to by the first of the three quotations given at the beginning of this post and by an almost identical ad in The Gazette, which, also in 1658, advertised a China drink, “called by the Chinese Toha, by other nations Tay, alias Tee.”  Apparently, the norm had not yet solidified.  In 1711 Alexander Pope rhymed tea with obey.  In 1720 the rhyme tea / pay occurred.  In 1770 Samuel Johnson extemporized the verses in which tea was coupled in rhyme with me

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12. The food and drink we’re wishing for this holiday season

By Lana Goldsmith, OUP USA


This year we are delighted that beer geeks, foodies, industry professionals, and many others just curious about all-things-beer have added The Oxford Companion to Beer to their holiday wish list, along with other Oxford companions such as The Oxford Companion to Wine and The Oxford Companion to Food. But we also wanted to know what else the beer connoisseurs and oenophiles are putting on their holiday reading wish lists. Check out some of their recommendations below.

Bob Townsend from the Atlanta Journal Constitutions Drink: A Beer, Wine, and Spirits blog recommends these books:

- Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah by Jeremy Cowan with James Sullivan

- Brewed Awakening: Behind the Beers and Brewers Leading the World’s Craft Brewing Revolution by Joshua M. Bernstein

- The Great American Ale Trail: the Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation by Christian DeBenedetti

Jon Bonné at the San Francisco Chronicle recommends:

- Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons

- Terry Theise’s Reading Between the Vines

According to Esquire.com:

- “The New Beer Bibles a Man Should Read” include The Craft of Stone Brewing Co. by written by Greg Koch, Steve Wagner and Randy Clemens

But what do the book people want in their kitchen? What are they hoping to drink and eat through the holiday season? We took a survey and put together a list from OUP staff of all the things they’d like to go along with this stellar set of books.

JENNIFER ABRAMS, Senior Demand Planner
Le Creuset Signature Round Wide Dutch Oven:
This item from Le Creuset would be a perfect addition to my current cookware collection. I have a new love of making Jambalaya and this would be a wonderful pot to utilize!

All-Clad d5 Stainless-Steel 4-Qt Soup Pot:
I have recently found a great recipe for Wild Mushroom soup, and I’m looking to change over my cookware to stainless-steel. A soup pot would encourage me to find additional recipes.

TIM BARTON, Managing Director, Global Academic Publishing
A bottle of Barbera from Piemonte in Italy, since it reminds me of a fantastic year I spent there after university, teaching E

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13. Life in a brewery

What kind of crazy things happen at a brewery bar? What is some of the interesting stuff you can do with beer? What’s proper beer etiquette? If you don’t like beer, what beer should you try? How do you become a brewer? How do you break into the brewing industry?

Interviews with the Eric Peck, Brooklyn Brewery Tour Guide and Bartender, and Tom Price, Brooklyn Brewery Brewer and Lab Manager, reveal life inside a brewery. Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Companion to Beer, Garrett Oliver is brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and is the foremost authority on beer in the United States.

Interview with the Brooklyn Brewery Bartender

Click here to view the embedded video.

Interview with a Beer Brewer and Lab Manager

Click here to view the embedded video.

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, is the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. He has won many awards for his beers, is a frequent judge for international beer competitions, and has made numerous radio and television appearances as a spokesperson for craft brewing.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, featuring more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. It is first place winner of the 2012 Gourmand Award for Best in the World in the Beer category, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and shortlisted in Food and Travel for Book of the Year in the Drinks Category. View previous Oxford Companion to Beer blog posts and videos.

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14. Kosher beers for Hanukkah

By Garrett Oliver


I always knew that my family was a little different, but it wasn’t until my mid-teens that I realized exactly how weird we were. An African-American family living in the suburban greenery of Hollis, Queens, at the outskirts of New York City, we thought little of the fact that my father’s big hobby was hunting game birds. With dogs, no less. Often on horseback. Around the holidays, my Aunt Emma made wonderful chopped liver, and in the springtime, our table was often festooned with matzoh bread. It never occurred to us that these last two items were Jewish food traditions that rarely made forays into our community, and to this day, none of us are sure how they got there.

In a way, I think that this sort of culinary experience is at the heart of being an American, and as I travel the world, it’s one of the things that makes me proud of this country. As I prepare for Hanukkah celebrations with friends, I’m glad to say that beer is very much at the heart of the holiday meals. Some of my friends keep kosher, and many do not, but thankfully most beers are considered “kosher by default” in most parts of the world. Jewish dietary laws, kashrut, is interpreted by local councils of rabbis. In the United States, Canada and Israel, some people only eat foods that are specifically certified as kosher by rabbis, especially around Passover. At my brewery, we actually have some of our beers certified kosher for Passover, and a rabbi comes and blesses the beer!

Unless your own diet is very strict, there are very few beers that would ever cross your table that are off-limits, so you can tuck right into your holiday beer pairings. It’s nice to start off the meal with light, spritzy saisons, the farmhouse ales of Belgium. They’re dry and lively, and often show appetizing peppery and lemony aromatics. Re-fermentation in the bottle gives them a Champagne-like carbonation and texture, which is one reason why we often drink them out of Champagne flutes. Full-flavored beers can work wonders with the classics on the table, especially beef brisket and latkes. Both of these dishes are fatty, a little salty, and typified by caramelized flavors (no wonder we love them!), and beers with caramel and roasted flavors work well here. British and American brown ales are a good place to start, bringing light chocolate, caramel and coffee flavors that harmonize with everything, even sautéed Brussels sprouts. If you want something more complex, go for dark Trappist and abbey ales, where the dark color and caramel flavors come from highly caramelized sugars rather than grains. This translates into dried fruit and raisin-like flavors, along with rum-like flavors that remind me of Cracker Jacks or the burnt surface of a crème brulee.

When it’s time for dessert, beer really does outshine all other beverages. My favorite dessert beer style is imperial stout, a strong dark beer originally made for Catherine the Great. Brewed with large amounts of malts that have been roasted as dark as espresso coffee beans, imperial stouts taste like dark chocolate, coffee and dark fruit, making them a perfect foil for a range of desserts. With chocolate desserts, they play harmony, rowing in with similar flavors. With pastries such as rugelach, the coffee-like character is perfect, and the beer has just enough sweetness to match without becoming cloying. And these beers are a wonder with ice cream too — many people enjoy making ice cream floats with imperial stouts. Just make sure to have a soft-drink version ready for the kids!

The great thing about serving and bringing beer to the holiday table is that it’s fun. Everyone’s had one at some point or another, and though wine is great and has a wide range of flavor, it rarely surprises people. Beer, however, can be very surprising, because it can tastes like almost anything, from lemons and bananas to chocolate and coffee. Some friends and family might even leave your holiday table having discovered something brand new to like, and wouldn’t that be cool? This time of year I can’t help wishing that my Aunt Emma was still here; I’ll bet that Belgian abbey ales would have been great with her chopped liver, but I never learned how to make it. So among the other things you do this Hanukkah, teach the kids how to make your latkes! Though I’ll bet they’re not quite as good as mine.

Garrett Oliver, editor of The Oxford Companion to Beer, is the Brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery and author of The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food. He has won many awards for his beers, is a frequent judge for international beer competitions, and has made numerous radio and television appearances as a spokesperson for craft brewing.

The Oxford Companion to Beer is the first major reference work to investigate the history and vast scope of beer, featuring more than 1,100 A-Z entries written by 166 of the world’s most prominent beer experts. It is first place winner of the 2012 Gourmand Award for Best in the World in the Beer category, winner of the 2011 André Simon Book Award in the Drinks Category, and shortlisted in Food and Travel for Book of the Year in the Drinks Category. View previous Oxford Companion to Beer blog posts and videos.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only food and drink articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Image credit: Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout via Brooklyn Brewery.

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15. A drinking bout in several parts (Conclusion: Mead)

By Anatoly Liberman


We may assume that people, wherever they lived, learned to use honey and even practiced apiculture before dairy products became part of their diet, for honey can be found and consumed in its natural state, while milk, cheese, butter, and the rest presuppose the existence of domesticated animals, be it horses, cows, sheep, or goats, and of a developed industry.  However, humans are mammals, so that the word for “milk” is probably contemporaneous with language, even though no Common Indo-European term for it existed (for example, the word lactation reminds us of Latin lac, and it is quite different from milk).  With time, “milk and honey” turned into a symbol of abundance.  While the god Othinn (see the previous post) was busy stealing the mead of poetry, mortals dreamed of catching a bee swarm.  From 10th-century Christian Germany we have a rhyming charm, a pagan “genre” to be sure, but with Jesus Christ and Mary invoked, for it was the result that counted rather than the affiliation of the benefactors.  Its purpose was to let the flying bees stop at the speaker’s farm: “Christ, a swarm is here! / Now fly here, my ‘throng’, / to God’s protection, alight safe and sound. / Come, come down, bees;/ Command them to do so, Saint Mary. / Swarm, you may not fly to the woods, / To escape from me/ Or to get the better of me.”

Thousands of years before the recording of this incantation, the bee was glorified in the myths of the ancient Indo-Europeans.  Readers of old tales will remember that the bee was the sacred insect of the Greek goddess Artemis.  A cave painting of a human surrounded by bees while removing honeycombs and an old depiction of honeycombs have also come down to us. Whatever effect charms may once have had on German bees, honey was certainly in wide use.  In the phrase milk and honey, milk stands first, but in its Russian analog med-pivo (literally, “mead-beer”) and in its Baltic (Lithuanian and Latvian) equivalent medu-alus (note alus, a cognate of Engl. ale!) “mead” precedes “beer.”  The story teller of Russian folklore tends to finish his tale with the begging formula to the effect that he drank med-pivo at the wedding feast and that it flowed over his moustache, but not a drop got into his mouth (so this is the time to quench his thirst and reward his labors).

Naturally, med in the compound med-pivo referred to an intoxicating drink, but in Modern Russian the word med means “honey.”  Although in recorded texts mead “beverage” occurs earlier than mead “honey,” common sense tells us that before people began to drink “mead” after they got acquainted with honey.   The fermentation of wild honey did not remain a secret either, and this is a likely reason the two senses of mead merged.  The word wine came to the European languages from Latin, and the Romans seem to have borrowed it from their neighbors.  Perhaps in the lending language it also meant “mead,” for Persian may (a form derived from Indo-European medu- or medhu-) means “wine.”

As noted in the previous post, the Indo-Europeans used two words for “honey”: one was the ancestor of Engl. mead, the other the ancestor of Greek méli (genitive mélitos, so that the stem was mélit-).  Every time we confront a pair of such synonyms the question arises what distinguished the objects they designated.  For instance, loaf is a descendant of a word that meant “bread.”  What then was the difference between hlaifs- (the ancient form of loaf) and bread?  Presumably

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16. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 4: Booze)

By Anatoly Liberman


Booze is an enigmatic word, but not the way ale, beer and mead are.  Those emerged centuries ago, and it does not come as a surprise that we have doubts about their ultimate origin.  The noun booze is different: it does not seem to predate the beginning or the 18th century, with the verb booze “to tipple, guzzle” making its way into a written text as early as 1300 (which means that it turned up in everyday speech some time earlier).  The riddles connected with booze are two.

First, why did the noun appear so much later than the verb?  A parallel case will elucidate the problem. The verb meet is ancient, while the noun meet is recent, and we can immediately see the reason for the delay: sports journalists needed a word for a “meeting” of athletes and teams and coined a meet, whose popularity infuriated some lovers of English, but, once the purists died out, the word became commonplace (this is how language changes: if a novelty succeeds in surviving its critics, it stays and makes the impression of having been around forever).  But the noun booze is not a technical term and should not have waited four hundred years before it joined the vocabulary.  Second, the verb booze is a doublet of bouse (it rhymes with carouse, which is fair).  Strangely, bouse has all but disappeared, and booze (sorry for a miserable pun) is on everybody’s lips.  However, it is not so much the death of bouse that should bother us as the difference in vowels.   The vowel we have in cow or round was once “long u” (as in today’s coo).  Therefore, bouse has the pronunciation one expects, whereas booze looks Middle English.  In the northern dialects of English “long u” did not become a diphthong, and this is probably why uncouth still rhymes with youth instead of south.  Is booze a northern doublet of bouse?  One can sense Murray’s frustration with this hypothesis.  He wrote: “Perhaps really a dialectal form” (and cited a similar Scots word).  It is the most uncharacteristic insertion of really that gives away Murray’s dismay.  His style, while composing entries, was business-like and crisp; contrary to most people around us, he preferred not to strew his explanations with really, actually, definitely, certainly, and other fluffy adverbs: he was a scholar, not a preacher.

Whatever the causes of the modern pronunciation of booze, one etymology will cover both it and bouse.  So what is the origin of bouse?  This word is surrounded by numerous nouns and verbs, some of which must be and others may be related to it.  First of all, its Dutch and German synonyms buizen and bausen spring to mind.  Both are rare to the extent of not being known to most native speakers, but their use in the past has been recorded beyond any doubt.  Most other words refer to swelling, violent or erratic movement, and noise: for instance, Dutch buisen “strike, knock” and, on the other hand, beuzelen “dawdle, trifle,” Norwegian baus “arrogant; irascible” and bause “put on airs” (which partly explains the sense of Dutch boos and Germa

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17. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 5: Toast)

(GRAND FINALE BEFORE THE NEXT LIBATION)

By Anatoly Liberman


Toasting, a noble art, deserves the attention of all those (etymologists included) who drink for joy, rather than for getting drunk.  The origin of the verb to toast “parch,” which has been with us since the end of the 14th century, poses no problems.  Old French had toster “roast, grill,” and Italian tostare seems to be an unaltered continuation of the Romance protoform.  Tost- is the root of the past participle of Latin torrere (the second conjugation) “parch.”  English has the same root in torrid and less obviously in torrent, from torrens “scorching, said of streams; roaring, rushing”).  A cognate of the root tor- can be seen in Engl. thirst, a most appropriate word in the present context.   Kemp Malone (1889-1971), an eminent American scholar, equally proficient in modern linguistics and medieval literature, once reclassified the senses of the verb toast “parch,” as given in the Oxford English Dictionary, and came to the following conclusion:

“…throughout, the verb means the same thing: ‘to heat thoroughly’.  This has always been the basic meaning of the word, but in modern times the process of toasting has come to be restricted to a beneficial application of heat.  The source of this heat in early times was either the sun or an open fire, but later uses of the word indicate that toasting may be effected by any source of heat found suitable for the purpose, as an electric current or blasts of hot air.”

This is probably true, but it tells us nothing about toasting occurring at banquets, and yet, from an etymological point of view, it must be the same word.

As usual, popular books and the Internet give lots of anecdotal information about the origin of toast “drinking a guest’s health,” without disclosing their sources, but etymologies unsupported by exact references should never be trusted, for authors tend to copy from one another and thus produce an illusion of consensus and solid knowledge, where a critic easily discerns a Ponzi scheme in historical linguistics.  One thing seems to be certain, however: from early on, people put a piece of charred bread at the bottom of a wine glass. Whether this ingredient added flavor, removed flavor, or disguised the presence of poison in the container is less clear.  I will quote part of a statement by a professor of chemistry, as given in the periodical Comments on Etymology (January 19, 1990):

“My understanding of the origin of toast is that the French had a custom of floating spiced bits of toast on various drinks (including coffee and tea) on festive occasions.  It is certainly possible that some spoiled wines were served this way, so that the spoilage could be hidden by the spices, and also so that the toast could absorb some of the odors….  While charcoal and probably toast can remove ethyl acetate, this is a short-term solution because they are not very effective at removing acetic acid.  The primary use of charcoal in the wine industry is the removal of unwanted color and some off-odors.”

It is thus safer to forget for the time being the antiquity and the Middle Ages and start with the 18th century.  The main revision of Samuel Johnson’s famous 1755 dictionary was made by H. J. Todd, who expanded Johnson’s etymologies and added a good deal of new material to the great work.  He pointed to the now well-known passage from Tatler (June 4, 1709).  It has been repr

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18. Taco Tuesday

If you’re anything like me, then when a friend asks, “Hey, do you wanna go to Taco Tuesday at that new place over by–” you interrupt with, “Whoa whoa whoa. You had me at taco.” I was flipping through one of my favorite Oxford volumes, The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink edited by renowned food historian Andrew F. Smith, and came across the entries for both Taco and Taco Bell. After reading some surprising sections aloud to fascinated colleagues, I decided I couldn’t keep these morsels to myself. “Oh please,” you might say, “I already know all there is to know about tacos!” No, my good sir/lady, I don’t think you do. So in advance, you’re welcome.     –Lauren Appelwick, Blog Editor

Tacos

In Mexico the word “taco,” which means a bite or snack, came to refer to a particular genre of edibles – a tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling [...] (The traditional Mexican taco is made with a soft, fresh corn tortilla; “hard shell” tacos, made with tortillas fried in a basket to give them a sturdy “U” shape, are a creation of Mexican restaurants in the United States.) The first known English-language taco recipes appeared in California cookbooks beginning in 1914.

[...] Until the 1960s tacos were mainly served in California and the Southwest at small roadside taco stands run by Mexican Americans. This changed when Glen Bell launched the first Mexican American fast food franchise in 1962 in Downey, California. Taco Bell had to overcome vast distrust and prejudice among many American consumers against Mexican restaurants. The new chain’s advertising emphasized that these were American restaurants that just happened to server Mexican-style food. Taco Bell assured the public that it’s tacos and other offerings were no more spicy or “foreign” than hamburgers. [...]

Taco Bell

During the early 1950s, few Americans outside California and the Southwest knew what a taco was. In the early twenty-first century Mexican American food is one of America’s fastest-growing cuisines. Although there are many reasons for this change, one was the Taco Bell fast food chain launched by Glenn Bell.

Bell operated a one-man hamburger and hot dog stand in San Bernardino, California, but he liked eating Mexican take-out food. Taco stands dotted the southern California landscape, but none offered fast food. Bell developed ways to improve the efficiency of preparing Mexican food. At the time, taco shells were made by frying soft tortillas for a few minutes. Bell invented a prefabricated hard taco shell, which did not have to be fried, thus saving time on each order. Bell also developed procedures for accelerating service.

Bell decided to test his new ideas. Bell opened a Taco Tia restaurant in 1954 in San Bernardino, California, the same year and the same city in which Richard and Maurice McDonald opened their revolutionary fast food establishment. Like the McDonald brothers, Bell quickly opened more restaurants in the surrounding area. Bell sold his interest in Taco Tia, and with new partners launched another chain, El Taco. The first outlet was opened in 1958 in Long Beach, California.

In 1962 Bell sold his share in El Taco to his partners and opened the first Taco Bell, in Downey, California. The menu consisted mainly of tacos and burritos plus beverages. This small outlet was quickly followed by eight stores in the Long

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19. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 6)

THE HAPPY END: FROM BOOZE TO MILK
(THE WORD BEESTINGS)

By Anatoly Liberman


The word beestings once had its day in court.  About half a century ago, American linguists were busy discussing whether there is something they called juncture, a boundary signal that supposedly helps people to distinguish ice cream from I scream when they hear such combinations.  A special sign (#) was introduced in transcription: /ais#krim/ as opposed to /ai#skrim/.  The two crown examples for the existence of juncture in Modern English were nitrate versus night rate and beestings versus bee stings.  I remember asking myself: “What exactly is beestings?”  Well, it is “first milk from a cow after calving,” considered a delicacy in some quarters, for example, in Iceland, as an old dictionary informs us, and perhaps elsewhere; colostrum is its Latin synonym and gloss.  More or less along the same lines the nonexistent difference between wholly and holy in oral speech bothered phoneticians.  If I am not mistaken, unprejudiced informants treated the members of such pairs as homophones, and the term juncture disappeared from linguistic articles and books, the more so as around that time about everybody agreed that most of pre-Chomskyan linguistics had been a sad aberration, and the terminology that dominated the previous period lost its relevance.  In this drinking bout, bee stings and beestings are connected in a rather unpredictable way: mead played an important role in my discussion (and mead is inseparable from honey and, consequently, from stinging bees), while beestings may share the root with booze and, according to a bold hypothesis, also with beer.

Obviously, -ings is a suffix in beestings, a word that has been attested in numerous similar-looking shapes.  Old English already had the forms with the suffix (bysting) and without it (beost), and beest has wide currency in modern British dialects.  The German, Frisian, and Dutch cognates of beest are unmistakable: they sound alike and mean the same.  A probable Norwegian (dialectal) cognate has also been discovered.  The most authoritative dictionaries call beestings and the related forms words of unknown origin, but, as always, everything depends on how we define “unknown.”  Some words are so impenetrable that nothing at all can be said about their past, while others are obscure to varying degrees.  As a rule, numerous conjectures have been put forward about the derivation of hard words, and, even if the problem remains unsolved (the most common case), some contain the proverbial grain of truth.  “Origin unknown” is a loose concept.  This also holds for beestings.

Early attempts to connect beest with an Old Romance word for “curdled” (such as Provençal betada “clotted” and 17th-century French caillebotes “curds”) have been abandoned, and indeed, Old Engl. beost and betada resemble each other by chance; nor is the resemblance impressive.  A more serious riddle is whether Old Engl. beost has anything to do with Gothic beist “leaven, yeast” (Gothic is a dead Germanic language, recorded in the 4th century).  Many lexicographers combined them (some even us

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20. What consumers think about caging livestock

By F. Bailey Norwood and Jayson L. Lusk

 
After fighting each other for over a decade, the egg industry and the largest animal advocacy organization came to an agreement, one which will increase the welfare of egg-laying hens but also increase egg prices.  The United Egg Producers, under persistent pressure from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has agreed to transition hens out of battery cages and into enriched colony cages.  The HSUS certainly believes the higher welfare standards are worth the increase in egg prices, but do consumers agree?  My research says that when consumers are informed about the issue, yes, they applaud the move—even when they know higher egg prices will follow.

Most consumers do not wish to see farm animals crammed into small cages, but if they take the time to discover the source of their pork and eggs, these cramped animal cages are what they will see.  Chickens raised for egg production are placed in groups of 4-6 birds and raised their entire lives inside a cage so small that they cannot turn around without bumping into another chicken.  Spreading their wings is out of the question.  Sows (female hogs used for breeding) are confined even tighter, spending most of their lives in a stall so small the sow cannot even turn around.  There are more farm animal welfare issues than just space allotments.  Both layers and sows desire to forage for food, scratch or dig, socialize, and find comfortable places to rest.  All of these “behavioral” needs are neglected in the typical egg and pork production facility.  By transitioning from battery cages to enriched colony cages, the egg industry goes a long way towards meeting these space and behavioral needs.

Why are animal cages used in the first place, when the average person finds them disturbing?  In the competitive marketplace for food, farmers must employ confined production facilities to keep their costs low, because consumers generally emphasize low prices over animal welfare at the grocery store.  Yet, at the same time, consumers who purchase food from so-called “factory farms” donate money to the HSUS, who uses some of this money to ban the same animal cages used to produce most eggs and pork.  In surveys, referendums, and economic research, consumers consistently support the banning of the same cramped animal cages used to produce the food they purchase.

One reason the farm animal welfare debate cannot be quickly resolved is that consumers have difficulty resolving the issue for themselves.  They want livestock to be treated kindly, but they also want low food prices, and it is difficult to reconcile the tradeoff between animal well-being and food prices in the grocery store and/or in referendums.  For these reasons, the farm animal welfare debate is a messy, contradictory debate—the trademark of a democratic process.

Although consumer attitudes can be elusive to identify, research has revealed a few facts.  The most important fact to stem from consumer research is that, when consumers are informed about how layers and sows are raised, they consistently state they are willing to pay the higher food prices that would result from better animal care.  This does not imply that regular grocery store shoppers will reflect this level of concern in their willingness-to-pay for food, because the regular grocery store shopper is uninformed. 

However, the farm animal welfare debate is largely a policy debate.  Should we ban colony cages for layers?  Should we ban gestation stalls for sows?  It would seem prudent to base policy on the opinions of informed consumers, as opposed to uninformed consumers.  When employing this prudent procedure, there is little doubt that the ban on cramped animal cages occurring in the European Union and US states is justifi

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21. 5 greatest bar brawls in American history

1. The Philadelphia Election Riots, 1742 No reported deaths, several injured, one election lost. Never piss off your bartender. That’s a time-honored rule understood by all regular drinkers. Obviously, this wouldn’t include Quakers Thomas Lloyd and Israel Pemberton, Jr., who had headed off to Philadelphia’s Indian King Tavern one election-day morning to see what they could do about defusing a potentially violent situation.

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22. Memo from Manhattan: Main Street, Greenwich Village

By Sharon Zukin E. B. White was correct when he wrote more than sixty years ago that New York is a city of neighborhoods, and he was even more correct that every neighborhood has its own “little main street.” “No matter where you live,” he says, “you will find within a block or two a grocery store, a barbershop, a newsstand and shoeshine shack, an ice-coal-and-wood cellar.., a dry cleaner, a laundry, a delicatessen” and on to the “hardware store, a liquor store, a shoe-repair shop.” Except for the coal

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23. Sound bites: how sound can affect taste

The senses are a vital source of knowledge about the objects and events in the world, as well as for insights into our private sensations and feelings. Below is an excerpt from Art and the Senses, edited by Francesca Bacci and David Melcher, in which Charles Spence, Maya U. Shankar, and Heston Blumenthal look at the ways in which environmental sounds can affect the perceived flavour of food.

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24. Is coffee the greatest addiction ever?

Some of you may know that today is National Coffee Day. I've, personally, been trying to ignore the free/discounted offers around New York City since I'm trying to cut back, and decided to distract myself by putting together this quick video post about coffee and caffeine. Now, I would be reimiss if I did not first mention the fantastic book Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine by Stephen Braun. This is a

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25. Everything you ever wanted to know about Prohibition

Prohibition, or “the Noble Experiment,” refers to the period between 1919 and 1933 when the sale, manufacture, and distribution of alcohol were illegal in the United States. Although it may have lasted only 14 years, Prohibition was the culmination of decades of protest and lobbying and has ramifications that are still felt today. It remains the focal point of the ongoing debate surrounding the potential dangers and benefits of alcohol and people’s right to drink as they please.

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