Food History

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What Is French Dressing?

Dedicated reader Frank W. was kind enough to send me his favorite recipe for French dressing, a "Catalina-style" French to share with readers. You might like this spicier version of French dressing over the stuff you usually find at salad bars or in bottles.

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Curry Powder Has Nothing to do With Indian Cooking

And Perhaps Neither Do Curries

I was shopping for groceries online (I order most of my groceries through Peapod) and I came across a newly added product: a Thai red curry sauce. This is one of those pre-made sauces in a pouch that you just add to chicken and/or vegetables to make an instant dish. Of course, I would never buy this, I would just make my own Thai curry which I do quite often (sometimes obsessively). But, being the CulinaryLore guy, I had to read the reviews to see what customers were saying. Of course, some people loved it, and some hated it. But of the few hating it, one of them complained that it burned their tongue off and had no curry flavor because it DID NOT CONTAIN any CURRY POWDER!

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Origin Of 'Hot Potato' Expression

Meaning of Hot Potato

When we say something is a hot potato, we are referring to something that is controversial, awkward, embarrassing, difficult, or unpleasant to deal with and which people want to avoid. We often refer, as well, to a 'political hot potato.' Either term is in most often used in reference to a public issue. But, the idiom can also refer to a person who is disagreeable or unpleasant. Examples of how 'hot potato' might be used are:

We might say, for example, "Abortion was a hot potato subject during the last election." How did the term come to be used in this way? Why a potato, and not some other object?

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Origin Of 'Kill The Fatted Calf' Expression

To kill the fatted calf is to prepare a huge celebratory feast, especially to welcome someone. It means to have a big party with lots of food and drink.

The American Heritage Dictionary Of Idioms defines it as "to prepare for a joyful occasion or a warm welcome." An example would be a long lost beloved relative coming home: "When Steve comes home from his deployment we are going to kill the fatted calf.

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A Man Bought Lobster and Steak on Food Stamps?

A viral image of a grocery store receipt from Menominee, Michigan has been circulating online since May of 2011. The receipt, from Angeli's Country Market, lists fresh cold water lobster, porterhouse steak, and diet Mountain Dew, totaling $141.78, dated February 8, 2011.

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Origin of the Word Pumpernickel

I've written about many food word origins here on CulinaryLore. I have been meaning to write about the origin of the word pumpernickel for a while, especially since I had read it had some surprising derivations. I thought I may as well do some research of my own to confirm these odd and funny origins.

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Origin of 'Egg on Your Face' Expression

Have you ever had egg on your face? Possibly, after eating eggs. But someone having egg on their face is also an idiomatic expression meaning to look foolish after having made some mistake. The expression is figurative in that the person doesn't really have egg on their face. But, does the expression come from having remnants of egg yolk left on one's face after eating soft-cooked eggs? Perhaps, but it is difficult to be sure.

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Banana Wackies Cereal from General Mills, 1965

Banana Wackies cereal is a forgotten cereal that was introduced by General Mills in 1965. The boxes actually only read 'Wackies' cereal, but the television commercials used the name Banana Wackies.

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Origin of the Word Epicure

The word epicure refers to someone who is a connoisseur of food and wine, seeks out only the finest, and has selective tastes. The meaning of the word was not originally so highfalutin, though. It could also mean something more like glutton.

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What Was the First Meal Eaten on the Moon?

Having read more than a few accounts of the first moon landing, I am often surprised by the off-hand treatment of the many 'firsts' that occurred. I read passages like 'the astronauts ate their first meal and then…'

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'There's No Such Thing As a Free Lunch' Origin

What Does 'There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch' Mean?

When we say 'there's no such thing as a free lunch,' we mean to express that there are few things in life that are truly given to us at no cost or free. There are usually strings or at least expectations attached. The cost of goods or services has to come from somewhere. In other words, you can't get something for nothing, and if something appears to be free, it isn't really. A similar saying is "there is no such thing as a free ride."

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Diner Lingo: Adam And Even On A Raft, the Blue Plate Special, and Other Slang

Diner lingo is becoming a thing of the past but there are still diners where the servers use this colorful language to call out orders. Not all of this language originated in diners, though. Some if it came from the old soda fountain and lunch-counters. Some diners have their own peculiar slang, but there are some age-old gems that have been passed down. If you've ever heard a counter-person calling out orders using this slang, you may have thought you were listening to a complicated insider's code that only the inner circle of diner-world can understand. But the language handed down from the soda fountains and lunch counters to the modern diner originally served a purpose. Although some of the terms may have originated as early as the 1870's, with the soda jerks, they had their hey-day between the 1920's and 1970's.

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Are Fajitas Just Do-It-Yourself Tacos?

In the article How Do You Eat Tacos Without Them Falling Apart I stated that many folks claim that much of the food labeled 'Mexican' in America is actually from the Southwest or from Texas, labeled Tex-Mex. They say that the Mexican origins of these foods is exaggerated or is a myth. This is often a myth in itself!

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How Do You Eat Tacos Without Them Falling Apart?

It seems confoundingly difficult to eat a crunchy taco without the shell breaking and the taco falling apart as you eat it. Have you ever been tempted to ask a native Mexican how in the world you were supposed to eat a taco without the shell falling apart and the fillings falling out all over the place? Good thing you didn't because he would have thought you were off your rocker.

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Did Ronald Reagan Say Ketchup Was a Vegetable?

During Ronald Reagan's terms as president, I was in junior high and then high school. At some point during that time he became a running joke during lunch period. When French fries were served, or anything else involving ketchup, we'd say "Good thing Ronald Reagan says ketchup is a vegetable." Did President Ronald Reagan really declare ketchup a vegetable during his term?

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