"Everything in [this book] is delightful to learn. Barnette takes us through languages and across millennia in a charming style . . . that offers endless food for thought." –The New Yorker
What makes the pretzel a symbol of religious devotion, and what pasta is blasphemous in every bite? How did a drunken brawl lead to the name lobster Newburg? What naughty joke is contained in a loaf of pumpernickel? Why is cherry a misnomer, and why aren’t refried beans fried twice? You’ll find the answers in this delectable exploration of the words we put into our mouths.
Here are foods named for the things they look like, from cabbage (from the Old North French caboche, "head") to vermicelli ("little worms"). You’ll learn where people dine on nun’s tummy and angel’s breast. There are foods named after people (Graham crackers) and places (peaches), along with commonplace terms derived from words involving food and drink (dope, originally a Dutch word for "dipping sauce"). Witty, bawdy, and stuffed with stories, Ladyfingers and Nun’s Tummies is a feast of history, culture, and language.
"Why didn’t anyone think of this before? . . . What fun Martha Barnette has made of it all, every name for every dish explained and traced and jollied." –William F. Buckley, Jr.
Martha Barnette, the author of A Garden of Words, did graduate work in classical languages at the University of Kentucky. A former reporter for The Washington Post, she is now a contributing editor at Allure. She lives in Louisville, Kentucky.