miscellany/etymology

Addendum: On Fudge.

 

since writing in passing yesterday about fudge, in connection with Oh Henry bars,* i have been reminded that this is the second time in a matter of days that the uncertain status of fudge has come up. looking at a package of Fudge-Covered Ritz that a friend brought back from America, i wondered aloud what it was that made them fudge-covered as opposed to chocolate-covered. she speculated (forgive me, Camilla, if this was more than idle speculation on your part) that it was because they weren’t made with real chocolate, and i could well imagine that the big wheels down at the Ritz (factory) would have no truck with such obviously second-rate language as “chocolatey.” fudge, in this case seems an inspired evasion, then.

but thinking about Oh Henrys and how alien the ‘fudge’ therein has always seemed to my image of fudge got me wondering  What Up With Fudge, Anyway? what makes fudge, and where does it come from? i ended up having to haul out both tomes of my OED, because curiously “fudge” in the present usage only makes it into the supplement of the 1971 edition, appearing on page 3,972 of vol. 2, as the fifth sense of the word:  “A soft-grained sweetmeat prepared by boiling together milk, sugar, butter, and chocolate or maple sugar.” of US origin, 1897.

the rest of the not inconsiderable space devoted to fudge has to with the term as something shouted to express incredulity or disfavour: “Contemptible nonsense, ‘stuff’, bosh,” or the not altogether different:

To fit together in a clumsy, makeshift, or dishonest manner; . . . To make (a problem) look as if it had been correctly worked, by altering figures; to conceal the defects of (a map or other drawing) by adjustment of the parts, so that no glaring disproportion is observed; and in other like uses.

both of which meanings i had always assumed followed upon the confectionary use, although it appears that these others enjoy priority by a good two hundred or so years. both senses are of obscure, and potentially unrelated origin, although options include the namesake of some lying pig of a 17th-century English captain, and still curiouser, “An onomatopoeic alteration of FADGE v., with the vowel expressive of more clumsy action.” not to interrupt your head-scratching, because it took me a minute to figure this one out too, but fadge is an obsolete term meaning to fit well, or make fit well, get along, fit well into place. fudge, then, is almost its opposite, a clumsy dissembling of fadge: so, fudge is a fudging of the word fadge. 

 

i know, right?

so on top of this, a few hundred years later you have American boarding school debs applying the term to a delicious sugary confection that gradually makes its way into the lexicon, as i understand it, as a thing-in-itself. because perhaps i’m just out of the loop on this, but do people in general think of fudge the food as being some kind of chump job meant to pull one over? what is it trying to pass itself off as? it’s a brown square. but then, regardless, what happens is we have fudge coming back in as a sort of ersatz or pretend chocolate, implying in some parallel material-semiotic** fashion that fudge is a fudging of chocolate, or some other confection!

 

egad. what a twist!

 

 

 

* and only realizing now that my digression into the subtle comedy of failure could have been parlayed into some reference to the presence of such a thing in the writings of O. Henry, in that such clever twists often turn on some tragicomic or ironic failure, the most famous of which probably being “Gift of the Magi.” it’s a bit of a stretch, but that i should write about something effectively aesthetic, albeit arguably existential, associated with eating an Oh Henry bar, that in turn reminds me of the stories of O. Henry fits too well into this fudge loop (as, if you are reading this footnote inserted in the text, you will see; or if at the end, you have seen) to go unmentioned.

** not in the Actor-Network Theory way, so much as just the way that you’d figure if you tried to figure out what ‘material semiotics’ would look like. although hell, maybe that is the Actor-Network Theory way? or maybe just paronomasia?***

*** yes, paronomasia just means pun, and no, i can’t provide a single solid justification for using the word instead of pun, -except- that i appreciate how the former word (by its being obscure and five-to-six syllables) suggests some of the complexity that is bound up in a good pun. i mean come on, you can’t like word play and not like the word paronomasia. it’s play just to say it.

 

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miscellany/etymology

“Sad Songs Are Nature’s Onions . . . The Key That Gets Our Tears Out of Eye Jail.”

in other news:

1. not unrelated to my earlier pun reflections, in terms of potentially-clever-bits-of-wordplay-reduced-to-insipidness-by-intellectual-laziness, here’s Nicola at Edible Geography basically doing the sort of thing that i try to do, but better. re: the snowclone.

to be clear, i mean she’s doing it better. also, the snowclone thing is far less offensive to me than the majority of puns – in fact, i think it’s a fascinating piece of cultural shorthand, that only really annoys when (as in the case of puns) the form takes priority over the sense of the statement. like say, “(a suitable example escapes me, infuriatingly, right now, thus you’ll have to take my wit on faith, thanks),” where the only reaction can be “what, no it isn’t/doesn’t? what do you even mean? you’re just saying that so you can say something is the new something. go away.”

2. there be millions of these, i know, but another song about food that’s caught my ear of late is Louis Jordon’s “Boogie Woogie Blue Plate” (1947). noteworthy perhaps because it starts out by giving you the sense that it is in not actually about food:

there’s a gal at the local beanery,
she’s a pretty hunk of scenery
she can make a chocolate soda go shhhhhh
you should come out and dig it when she’s working at the spigot…

and then turns out, over the course of the next 5 verses to yes, actually be about food. get your mind out of the gutter, for once.

~

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markets, product review, rant

It Could Have Reminded Me of A Lot of Things.

1. UPDATE: that brie canadien i was trash-talking last week was Emma brand, so’s you know. can’t find a website for them, but you’ll in all likelihood know it to see the logo. sorry emma.

2. Duck Eggs. i’ve been eatin’ ’em. they’re considerably more expensive than hen eggs (6$ for 1doz, as opposed to 6$ for 30 from Capitaine D’Oeuf at Jean Talon), but i thought What The Hey, i love eggs and i hate ducks, so let’s see what can be made of this. the eggs have slightly more oblong shape and sturdier shell, which has made for some hard times in the cracking, but i’m getting used to it. had to stab one of them with a fork today, but i shouldn’t take my ineptitude as representative. the yolks, as compared to the hen eggs (also organic, and free-run or otherwise well-treated) also from Mr. Oeuf, are a little paler and larger, and the whites somewhat more gelatinous. i described them to someone yesterday as “more like gristle” (eliciting predictable, if unintended revulsion), but i think gelatinous says it better. they also remain a little more translucent, which unfortunately translates to looking a little grey, and seem less creamy. duck eggs are apparently noted for their gaminess (uh, gamey-ness?), but i didn’t notice any appreciable difference.  also, the yolks are usually darker orange, but this is diet-dependent. all in all? interesting, now i know, but i’ll stick to the chickens, thanks.

3. this whole Duck Egg Affair reminded me of puns, and some thinking about them that i’ve been doing.

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