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Dec 19, 2006 01:10 PM

Funny food names

Sliders and SOS are some English food names that are pretty funny. I have just tried birria, which is a Mexican or Salvadorean goat stew, and it's tasty, but the name apparently means 'trash'. And my friend kare_raisu's name is kind of funny, being the transliterated Japanese version of an English name for an Indian dish, and a British version at that. (Hi kare_raisu. No offense I hope, but I love the Japanese versions of foreign words, like biru, basuboru, tempura.)

Do you have any others that would be funny if you knew what they meant?

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  1. I like "strozzaprete", "priest-stranglers", a large variety of pasta.

    1. There is a sort of hash in southern Bolivia called "saice". The name is funny to Germans.

      4 Replies
        1. re: Leucadian

          "Saice" is pronounced quite the same as the German word for s*&t.

          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Surprisingly (to me, at least) the Taiwanese word for s&*t is very similar as well. Must have been something they picked up from the Europeans. The word for soap sounds like the French "savon" too. And people are saying below that tempura (tien boo la in Taiwanese) is Portuguese in origin.

            1. re: Pei

              In Viet, soap is "xa phuong", which is pronounced like "savon". And the name for BBQ pork is "xa xiu" -- a calque of "cha shu".

      1. "Tempura" is a cognate from English??

        4 Replies
        1. re: ricepad

          No, tempura is from Portuguese, according to the story I was told. The name is supposed to come from the Portuguese word for temple, and was attached to the batter-fried food by association with a vegetarian diet. Not sure if the technique was introduced by them or not. Katsu is another word that is supposedly derived from English, in this case 'cutlet'. These may be apocryphal, but they're reasonable.

          1. re: Leucadian

            The tempura technique came from the Portugese. When I was growing up, mom would rarely make the stuff, and in those cases only for hakujins.

            1. re: Leucadian

              Tempura is definitly Portuguese, however, I understand it to be derived from the word "temperatura" for temperature.

              I like the temple story better.

              1. re: Julie Woo

                According to Wikipedia under 'Tempura', we were close in sound but far away in meaning:

                "Batter-coated deep frying was introduced to the Japanese by Portuguese missionaries during the 16th century. The word tempura derives from the Portuguese missionaries' custom of eating fish during Lent due to the Catholic proscription against eating meat during this period: in Latin, "ad tempora quadragesimae", meaning "in the time of Lent"."

          2. I just think 'sweetbreads' is hilarious. Could the name be any farther from what they actually are? Anyone know where the name came from?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Melanie

              "We always assumed they were called sweetbreads as a euphemism (kind of like Rocky Mountain oysters!), but also as a reference to the very rich flavor and consistency. We probably weren't far off on the rich flavor part. The sweet element is thought to come from English sweet as the thymus and pancreas are sweet and rich. The bread element, on the other hand, is now thought to come from Old English bræd "flesh", so that sweetbreads are simply "sweet flesh", versus the more savory muscle flesh that is usually consumed because it is more plentiful. The term dates from the mid-16th century.

              Pancreas, by the way, comes from Greek pan "all" and kreas "flesh". John Ayto says that this was because the organ was of the same consistency and substance throughout. Pancreas dates in English from the 16th century, like sweetbread. Pancreas sweetbread is also known as stomach sweetbread, while the thymus is called throat sweetbread. Both refer to the location of the gland in the animal (pancreas in the abdomen and thymus at the base of the throat). "


              1. re: Melanie

                I've always loved that sweetbreads are meat and sweetmeats are (often) bread.

              2. The Brits, I think, win. There's a dish -- allegedly a dessert but based on suet -- called "spotted dick." In politer circles, it is morphed into "spotted dog," but it sounds just as unplatable.

                "Corn smut," the Anglo term for Mexico's huitlacoche (sp?), is pretty funny too.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ClaireWalter

                  Agreed the Brits win. Stiff upper lip, wot? Although the French are not far behind with pettes de souer.

                  Isn't this board a thing of wonder?

                  1. re: Leucadian

                    Pets de nonne! Nun's farts!

                    "Crottin", the name for a small round of cheese (usually goat cheese) means "turd".

                    Cuisse-dame, which actually means "lady's thigh". Calzone, which means "pants leg" in Italian.

                    In Turkey you can get a stuffed eggplant dish called imam bayildi -- "the priest fainted"

                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                      Calzone sounds a lot like underwear in Spanish

                      Cubans eat a dish called "moros y cristianos" - moors and christians - which is basically rice and beans

                      Chalupas are little row boats in Spanish

                  2. re: ClaireWalter

                    anytime anyone mentions huitlacoche, i am perversely compelled to post this <hilarious> link: