From Charles Cruthirds:
I recently read the snippet on
huitlacoche in the recent TOWFI. I lived for several years in the Texas' Rio Grande Valley, where
there are many restaurants that specialize in authentic Mexican cooking. I ate
huitlacoche on "huachinango" (red snapper) and
it definitely tasted better than it looked. I think the chef pureed it with lime juice and other spices and served it over the grilled
fish. Believe me, every bite was heaven! Here in Austin, it is available in supermarkets in the ethnic foods section. I would imagine that you could find it in a specialty
food store. Good luck!
We've seen it canned in the
grocery stores here in San Jose, California but have yet to see it on a
menu. We'll keep looking!
From Paul Burns:
One important ingredient for hominy is wood ashes.
Unground (whole) corn kernels are boiled in water that is made alkali with lye or in
pioneer days, wood ashes (filtered I presume). This "pops" the corn kernel
and removes the hard non-nutritious hull. The now "hominy" looks like soggy
popcorn but is solid and firm. This is washed to remove the alkali (and ash)
then can be dried and ground as grits or served fresh as hominy.
This makes hominy one of the two or three alkali foods we normally eat
(asparagus is also alkali).
While grits is ubiquitous (at least down here in Georgia), hominy is now
rare. Fortunately it is available in cans at the Piggly Wiggly.
Love your site.
This lye treatment, also known
as nixtamalization, is essential to release the niacin which the corn
contains. Thanks for reminding us of that.
And we're glad to hear there are
still Piggly Wigglies around. (Piggly Wiggly is the name of a chain of
grocery stories that used to be ubiquitous, at least in the South.)
From Steve Bradshaw:
In my experience (southern California), hominy is usually whole and sometimes coarsely
ground (hominy grits). Also, hominy is typically made by cooking dried corn in lye water.
It is this process that removes the hull and germ as the kernel swells. This process also
greatly increases the amount of usable niacin. The pellagra outbreak in the South was
due to subsisting on a diet of untreated corn. The Native Americans knew better and
used ashes and powdered lime to treat their corn (how did they know that?).
However, when I think of hominy my thoughts turn to pozole, not grits. Hmmm.
Grain, kernel, corn. That could be another discussion?
Powdered lime nixtamalizes
even more effectively than ashes. As for grain, corn,
etc., see Issue 23.
From Christopher Mitson:
Allow me to heap yet more praise upon your heads for such a consistently enjoyable and erudite site. Life would be poorer without it. Here is another meaning of the noun
jade - a callous or unfeeling woman. It was popularised by Gilbert and Sullivan in "The Yeoman of the Guard"
When jealous torments rack my soul,
My agonies I can't control,
Oh, better sit on red hot coal
Than love a heartless jade.
"Heartless jade" became a cliché
for an uncaring female sweetheart but presumably
the librettist Sullivan drew on some existing use?
Here in New Zealand, jade has special significance for the indigenous Maori people. Carved jade - greenstone or pounamu - has now become an icon of "New Zealandness" for non-Maori Kiwis as well.
To be super-correct the greenstone worn around your neck (by males and females alike) must be a gift
from another person, not bought by yourself. Ideally it should also be blessed by a kaumata (Maori elder) to transfer the mana (prestige, spiritual power) of the carver to the wearer and then washed in the sea before you wear it.
On the other hand, heaps of imitations are made in Taiwan, sent to NZ and flogged off (sold) to gullible tourists as authentic Maori art.
Sir Arthur Sullivan did indeed
draw on an existing usage of jade for "woman", which
apparently derives from the "worn out horse" meaning.
From Brad Daniels:
I wonder if question marks might not sometimes indicate that a sentence is
said with a questioning inflection? That is, rather than just indicating
that a sentence constitutes a question?
Also, even though sentences beginning with "I wonder" are not technically
questions, they do often solicit answers. E.g. "I wonder if you've seen
this?" to which one is expected to answer either "yes, I have," or "no, I
haven't." Since it serves the function of a question, it is not unreasonable to want to use a question mark.
You could counter by arguing that rhetorical questions still always end in
question marks, but then, ending a rhetorical question with a period might
also be reasonable, might it not. Unless, of course, it's said with a questioning inflection?
Is there a word for a statement intended as a question? "Non-rhetorical
statement," perhaps? I have this nagging suspicion I've heard a term that
fits, but I can't think what it is.
declarative", perhaps. Readers?
From Debby Briggs:
In your discussion of grits, you mentioned a corn
fungus so desirable to Mexican farmers that "some even inoculate their corn with the fungus." I was
confused by this phrasing, because I always understood inoculation as a prevention of
disease, not an action to encourage it. I checked the dictionary, and it seems to back up my
understanding. Am I missing something?
Yep. Well, actually, your
dictionary is missing something. If you read books and articles about
fungus propagation, or even books and articles about plant propagation in
general, you would come across the term. In horticulture, inoculate
means "engraft" or "implant", and the word is used in a figurative
sense with regard to introducing a disease (usually a dead or weakened form of
it) into one's bloodstream so that one produces antibodies against it. The
word derives from Latin in- "in" and oculus "eye,
bud of a plant". So introducing or "implanting" fungus into
corn (or any other medium) is also known as inoculation.
Also, note that inoculate
has one n, while the unrelated innocuous (etymologically "not
noxious") has two.
From William Dale:
My dictionary claims to not know the origin of the word "ofay", a term used
by a black person about a white person. Logic dictates that it is pigeon
english for "foe", as in Enemy.
Many people are laboring under the delusion that the phrase "spittin' image"
(sic) is a relaxed spelling of "spitting image". There is no such thing as a
spitting image. So, what, Dog 'n Suds is a corruption of "Dogging Suds"? How
do suds dog? Get real. "Spit 'n image" is from "spirit and image" referring to one's character and
there physical appearance. E.G. He's the spit'n image of his father...etc.
Actually, most scholars discount the
"foe" derivation as nothing more than an "implausible
guess" (OED). Instead, the most likely explanation is that it
comes from an African source. One erstwhile etymologist suggested
that it came from Ibibio afia "white or light colored",
but the OED says there is no foundation for that exact derivation.
Mencken felt that it derived from au fait, a French term used in
English to imply "fully conversant with", which Mencken took to
another level to mean "mastery". The OED does not even
comment upon that explanation.
As for spitting image, we discussed
it way back in Issue 19, at which time we
explained that your favored derivation is not likely the true one.
From Wayne Smith:
I just got done reading the "coney" joke from 1595
[third group of letters from the top of the page] in the English of the period. I know I have read a modernized version somewhere, but just seeing it in its pristine beauty cracked me up. I think it was the sentence in Latin that did it. Any way, I had to send it to ALL of my friends with no explanation. I hope they enjoy it as much as I did!
So do we! Glad to hear you enjoyed it.
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