We’re in quarantine and Ruth came to me the other days and asked, “Do you realize how many foods are named after places?” I thought this over, came up with several examples, and checked the internet for more. What a shock! There are almost countless dishes named after places and lots of dishes named after people too. There are so many of them listed on several websites that there’s a special name for this phenomenon. Such foods are called toponyms.
There is a food named after almost every American state. Baked Alaska, Texas toast, Idaho potatoes. And city. Denver omelette, Philadelphia cream cheese, Boston baked beans, Cincinnati chili. I was highly entertained in one of Cincinnati’s chili parlors called Camp Washington. And region. New England clam chowder, southern fried chicken, Rocky Mountain oysters. There are international choices too. Brazil nuts, Yorkshire pudding, Chicken Kiev to name just a few. Cayenne pepper is named for a town in French Guiana. Lima beans, however, are not named for Lima, Ohio. They’re named for Lima, Peru.
There are many dishes named after celebrities and inventive people. The humble sandwich is named for John Montagu who happened to also be the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Nachos are named after Ignacio ‘Nachi’ Anaya, the Mexican who invented them. Fig Newtons are not named for Isaac Newton. They were, however, invented in Newton, Massachusetts. Wiener unsurprisingly is an Austrian word, and Worcestershire Sauce was invented in Worcester, England in the 1830s. Ruth’s favorite drink in restaurants is an Arnold Palmer and her favorite sandwich is a Reuben. I used to have a friend from Austria. His mother’s specialty was Weiner Schnitzel. Fettuccini Alfredo! I have no idea who Alfredo was and can’t imagine Iranian pizza!
Desserts. Boston cream pie. This part of the topic reminded me of Australia, where the #1 dessert is a Pavlova. One time we were traveling with our Australian friends and had dinner in a diner somewhere in Gippsland with a nearby view of the Tasman Sea. The special dessert for the day was brandy snaps, and I’ll never forget how thrilled Lynette and Robert were to order them. Ruth and I delighted in their delight but didn’t sample them even though they looked delicious. I later had to look brandy snaps up on the internet where there were many BS recipes available. They are still popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia. They are tubes filled with cream, like toasted cream puffs. Also called Jumbles, they first became popular at fairs like so many foods in America that are only sampled at state fairs. They are variously described as “squirty cream” and “gingery biscuits” but apparently were not named after a person or place. The very popular Australian dessert Pavlova is a delicious meringue cake often topped with fresh strawberries and named for a Russian prima ballerina who performed in the late 19th and early 20th century. Pavlova died tragically at the age of 45 from flu and pleurisy. She was only sick for 3 days. Australians do like sweets. Two of their favorite treats are Tim Tams, which are sometimes available in the USA in the cookie section of supermarkets, and Lamingtons, small cakes named after a Queensland Governor.
Finally, I had forgotten that Dr Pepper is really named after Charles T. Pepper. And I did not know until I spent way too much time on the internet that Sriracha sauce comes from Thailand, where there’s a town named Si Racha.