Be a know-it-all at the dinner table,
This review is from: The Diner's Dictionary: Word Origins of Food and Drink (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My mother watches Countdown, and every time I see her she has some little tale about the origins of words she has learned from Suzie Dent. I thought it was time to get my own back.
This little book is a lot more marvellous than it first appears. It is quite literally what it says it is - a dictionary full of the origins of the names of fruit, vegetables, cooked meals and various other foodstuffs. I was out at a restaurant the other week and I ended my meal with an ice cream Sundae. The next day this book arrived and I looked it up, curious about the origin of the name. The book explores the connection, but says there is some doubt about the truthfulness of suggested explanations. Still interesting though. The next day I had an omelette and learned that the saying that you can't make one without breaking eggs comes from Robespierre; and I learned a little more about the green tea I like to drink.
I also looked at pages at random and found that there actually IS a dish called green eggs and ham! The non-chocolate equivalent of a brownie is called a blondie! The article on black-eyed peas actually mentions the Black Eyed Peas being formed in 1995, and the article on Wensleydale makes reference to Wallace and Gromit! Some of the articles are quite long, but interesting - for example the articles about chips and cake. At least one article there is questionable - shampoo is in there because some people used it as a joke name for champagne in 1958. Some obsolete names do deserve to be in there though, such as Chinese gooseberry (kiwi fruit).
It's a useful little book, especially if you want to show off at the dinner table. Worth buying even if it's only for finding out why a Jaffa cake legally IS a cake rather than a biscuit, and how the use of "toast" to mean "done for" came about (e.g. "we're toast"). (I won't keep you wondering on that last one - it came from one of Bill Murray's ad-libs in Ghostbusters).