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My mother kept the same cookbook in the same spot in her kitchen closet for the entire time I was growing up.

I always just called it the orange-with-black-dots cookbook. It was well worn, and the wayward cover was held on with my father's telltale repair-work material of packaging tape.

Not long ago, I finally looked at the title, Culinary Arts Institute Encyclopedic Cookbook. Our edition was from 1966, but the book's content was older than that.

First off, relevant to nothing, I was appalled and disturbed at the number of liver recipes in the book.

But, as I thumbed through the pages, unusual food words caught my eye:


"Sweet potato" is spelled as one word throughout the cookbook.

That must have been a quirk of the writer or publisher, because all the dictionary listings I've looked at have sweet potato listed as two words.

I tried to learn whether sweet potato was ever considered one word.

I stumbled on a Queensland, Australia, website of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry that answered questions about the vegetables. The department reports that a group of people went to a conference in Lima, Peru, in 1994 and simply decided to make sweet potato one word.

Who does that? Pockets of people shouldn't be able to randomly decide how food items are spelled.

What's next? Hambiscuit? Icecream? Thankfully, that group's efforts were thwarted in the United States.


Other oddities in the cookbook:

I found syrup spelled as "sirup." That's an older spelling, but that version and "syrup" are acceptable in Britain.

The book described "Franconia potatoes,'' apparently named for a German region. They are cooked in the pan with a roast. I think we now call them roasted potatoes. Not sure whether I like the generic better or not.

I had never before heard of "limpa," a rye bread made with molasses. The dictionary said its first mention was in 1948, and I figured its last was soon after. But apparently the bread is Swedish, and one can buy Viking Limpa Bread from a Connecticut bakery, no doubt among other places. Good marketing ploy with the Viking name-dropping.


I searched the index for Italian food and found none, or at least none labeled as such. I saw no pasta, but I did come across macaroni, which is what I called it as a child.

And I found chicken cacciatore, which is chicken cooked "hunter-style." I guess hunters travel with tomato sauce.

This brings me to Welsh rarebit, which is listed under hot entrees. It's a plate of seasoned cheese on toast, made with many flavor variations.

Some people call it Welsh rabbit, though it doesn't contain rabbit. Word-origin people are uncertain which name came first. One theory is that the dish was a consolation for a hunter who had an unsuccessful day. The sauce contains beer, so its use as a consolation prize makes sense.


There's more:

I found Mallobet, which seems to be a jellied marshmallow that can be flavored in many ways.

I found "transparent custard pie," which probably never gets eaten because no one can see it. Even the instructions are iffy: "Bake until a knife inserted in center comes out clean." Just how is the center of a transparent pie found?

I found "fricadellon," which is an Americanized spelling of the German dish Frikadellen. That's a fried meat patty. I'm certain many puns and jokes cross the dinner table on fricadellon night.

I had heard of a "Betty" but was sketchy on what it was. The apple Betty listed is baked apple with breadcrumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon. A Betty also can be inhabited, according to the cookbook, by bananas, peaches and "toasty" prunes.

I discovered egg frizzle, which is the technique of making an egg that's extra crispy on the edge but like a fried one on the inside.

And, one more: "old lady cake," which seems to be just a spice cake. I can't imagine "old lady cake'' would sell well.

Clarification: I messed up a definition Dec. 18. An astute reader set me straight, thank goodness. The "lunule" is the white crescent at the base of the fingernail, not the tip. I'm sorry for the confusion.

Reach Bernadette at

ActiveStyle on 12/25/2017

Print Headline: Recipes cook up word fun


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