Prejudicial food names?
August 16, 2019 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I'm wondering, does anyone know any toponymic foods still with us, whose names originate in some form of prejudice?

I see we've had an Ask about food-related misnomers before. And that's a good one. But it doesn't have more of what I'm looking for than the couple I've already found.

Essentially, what I'm trying to track down are foods that are, or were, named out of prejudice or mockery, names that do not describe what the thing is because it's supposed to be a joke about the people.

Foods like Welsh rarebit, originally named Welsh rabbit, the joke being that the Welsh are too poor to afford rabbit, which is why it's toast with mustard and cheese. Or the variant, Scotch woodcock, toast with eggs and anchovy paste, because of course the Scots are too poor even for game birds. Obviously, both are English in origin.

I'm sure there are more examples than this, but I can't ... seem to think of any. Or find any. And there aren't any good compilations that I've found already. Can anyone help me here? Anyone have any old cookbooks full of awful stuff, or just happen to have researched this before?
posted by kafziel to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Moros y cristianos, black beans and rice.
posted by 8603 at 3:35 PM on August 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

the hot dago in MN
posted by brujita at 3:42 PM on August 16, 2019

Are you looking for recipes/dishes or just anything food related?

My grandmother called brazil nuts "n-word toes." But I'd say this has, thankfully, largely fallen out of fashion.

Kaffir lime leaves are problematic.
posted by furnace.heart at 3:43 PM on August 16, 2019 [17 favorites]

Grilled bologna is has all kinds of names that fit this. Redneck Steak, Newfoundland Steak, Indian Steak, etc.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 3:43 PM on August 16, 2019 [5 favorites]

Germany, cw for n-word
posted by runincircles at 3:44 PM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

also Germany, using offensive term for Roma and Sinti

there are very probably an absoute shed-load more of this stuff in German regional dialects etc...
posted by runincircles at 3:48 PM on August 16, 2019

FWIW, "Welsh rarebit" is not based on a joke/prejudice about the Welsh, if you read that Wikipedia entry.
posted by unknowncommand at 3:57 PM on August 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

The history of why shepherd's pie is called pâté chinois (Chinese pie) in Quebec is obscure. Wikipedia says it's either because of Chinese cooks on the railway or because of a town called South China, Maine; I've also read that it's simply because "Chinois" was shorthand for "all mixed up" (in French, it's Greek to me is "c'est du chinois").

A traditional dessert from the old days is called "pouding chômeur" i.e. unemployment pudding. I don't know whether that would rate.
posted by zadcat at 3:59 PM on August 16, 2019 [4 favorites]

"The maker of Eskimo marshmallow sweets, Cadbury, said it would continue to market them despite claims from a Canadian tourist they were racist. Tip Top also said yesterday that it did not intend to rename its Eskimo Pie icecreams." (NZ Herald, April 2009)
posted by Iris Gambol at 4:20 PM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Look up "White Trash Casserole" (or Lasagna or Pie or Sushi or...).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 4:26 PM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not sure if this counts as food, but the Goliath grouper was also referred to by some as the Jew fish.
posted by duoshao at 4:26 PM on August 16, 2019

Cowboy caviar?
posted by kathrynm at 4:30 PM on August 16, 2019

To clarify, I do mean where a dish has One Name and it's something that has stuck in a widespread fashion, not where there's a just regional slang for something that is widely known as something else. Shepherd's pie is ... shepherd's pie.

Those German ones are something, definitely. I'm hoping for things that are misleadingly named - the schnitzel is still a schnitzel, after all - but that's still, yikes.
posted by kafziel at 4:47 PM on August 16, 2019

Bunny Chow might be a good example of this. Or Spaghetti alla Puttanesca?
posted by Caravantea at 5:04 PM on August 16, 2019

"Auricularia auricula-judae (Latin for 'Judas's Ear'), known as the Jew's ear, (black) wood ear, jelly ear or by a number of other common names, is a species of edible Auriculariales fungus found worldwide. The fruiting body is distinguished by its noticeably ear-like shape and brown colouration; it grows upon wood, especially elder. Its specific epithet is derived from the belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself from an elder tree; the Latin Judae ('Judas's') was mistranslated into English as 'Jew's', leading to the term "Jew's ear", while today "jelly ear" and other names are sometimes used. [...]
While the term "Jew's meat" was a deprecatory term used for all fungi in the Middle Ages, the term is unrelated to the name "Jew's ear". A further change of name to "jelly ear" was recommended in the List of Recommended Names for Fungi. The idea was rejected by mycologist Patrick Harding who considered it "to be the result of political correctness where it is not necessary", and who "will continue to call [the species] Jew's ear", explaining that, while anti-Semitism was commonplace in Britain, the name "Jew's ear" is in reference to Judas, who was a Jew. However, the name has been adopted in some recent field guides."
posted by Theiform at 5:20 PM on August 16, 2019

An Irish cookbook I have has a recipe for Protestant cake that the author says came from a Catholic household. A friend of mine found the same thing in Scotland, where it was called “millionaire’s shortbread.” It’s a cookie that has shortbread with toffee and chocolate. The joke seems to be that Protestants are rich and can afford the expensive ingredients.
posted by FencingGal at 5:51 PM on August 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

For misleading food names Glasgow Salad has always been one of my favorites (it's just a plate of french fries), but while it's misleading, I think it's more used by local people as a joke rather than as a prejudicial term.
posted by Umami Dearest at 6:17 PM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

(However, it does meet your standard of "names that do not describe what the thing is because it's supposed to be a joke about the people").
posted by Umami Dearest at 6:41 PM on August 16, 2019

The name for sweet and sour pork is 'goo lo yuk' - roughly, begger/day labourer/homeless meat (as in, the meat that they eat).

The meat is typically battered and fried (increase total calories, but reduced protein proportionally) and is heavily sauced. Together, this can easily disguise the actual nature of the meat. Sometimes darkly alluded to as, literally, meat from a dead begger.
posted by porpoise at 6:43 PM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

I read somewhere that red clam chowder was named “Manhattan clam chowder” as an insult, because everybody knows they don’t know how to make chowder in New York City.

(Red clam chowder, a fine product, originated with the Portuguese in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.)
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:44 PM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Would the fruit drink Um Bongo count? The name's a sloppy attempt at a foreign language, so even if it's not overtly racist, there's something uncomfortable about it.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:06 PM on August 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Aunt Jemima pancake syrup is still the most prominent brand of artificial maple syrup available in the United States.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 7:40 PM on August 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Possibly Kaffir Lime.
posted by matildaben at 10:36 PM on August 16, 2019

Maybe pasta puttanesca?

Wikipedia says the idea is that it’s a quick pantry meal, made “between other obligations,” not that it was actually invented or popularized by sex workers.
posted by vunder at 11:03 PM on August 16, 2019

American chop suey?
posted by bendy at 3:07 AM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Chop suey is just poor transliteration (a slightly better one might be "chap sui") which means "chopped to bits" which is literally the method employed.
posted by porpoise at 8:16 AM on August 17, 2019

An Irish cookbook I have has a recipe for Protestant cake that the author says came from a Catholic household

Protestant tray-bake is not derived from a slur - NI prostestant communities are famous for their many and varied tray bakes (like Minnesota is known for hot dishes in the US). There’s no corresponding tray bake culture in the NI catholic community. But nobody is looking down on the Protestants for making them. They are called Protestant tray bakes because they are made by Protestants, no further meaning implied.

Recipes here.
posted by tinkletown at 8:29 AM on August 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Look up "White Trash Casserole" (or Lasagna or Pie or Sushi or...).

Or even MetaFilter’s very own Greasy Honky Pie.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 3:21 PM on August 17, 2019

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