Monday, December 15, 2014

Food and the dictionary

“The adoption of ethnic food words into English is an excellent proxy for the moment our culture embraces these foreign foodstuffs as our own”: How food words join the dictionary (Boston Globe).

I’m not sure what “our culture” means in that sentence, because the article references both American and British dictionaries. But I’m happy to learn from this article that bánh mì (or banh mi ) has entered the American Heritage Dictionary. And I’m surprised to learn that pasta didn’t enter the Merriam-Webster lexicon until 1963.

When Elaine and I moved to downstate Illinois in 1985, pasta was shelved in the supermarket’s “Ethnic Foods” aisle. Exotic stuff, that pasta.

[I can recommend with considerable enthusiasm Los Angeles’s Absolutely Phobulous and Bahn in the USA. Both serve excellent báhn mì.]

comments: 4

Fresca said...

When I was a kid, pasta was only ever called spaghetti.

You know the spaghetti-tree hoax, don't you?
For April Fools 1957, the BBC showed people harvesting spaghetti off trees, and viewers thought it was a real documentary:

Michael Leddy said...

Indeed! I made a post about it in 2009. (You can guess what day.) I’m replacing my defunct link with your valid one.

It must be kismet that I was planning to make sauce later today.

Zhoen said...

Pizza isn't Itallian, either. Marco Polo brought it back from China.

(sorry, couldn't resist.)

Michael Leddy said...

I’m sitting here thinking: isn’t there something about that in a movie? And then I realized, yes, there is, and I typed it out. And I’m guessing that you remembered that.

Thanks for remembering. It’s been a long day.