all right

Occasionally adding corroborative details to add verisimilitude to otherwise bald and unconvincing,
but veridicous accounts
with careful attention, indefatigable assiduity, and nice discrimination.

13 May, 2017

Potato, Sweet Potato & Misnomers

If I were given some sugared flesh when I asked for a sweetmeat, or supplied peas after I ordered some sweet peas I should be disappointed almost as much, I warrant, as a diner who asked for a plate of sweetbread with some sweet corn on the side and was instead served a slice of bread and honey, say, with some sugared wheat or barley; similarly, if I ordered some mashed potato or fried potato chips and was instead given some mashed sweet potato or fried sweet potato chips I should be rightly peeved.  The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is not the same as the potato (Solanum tuberosum), and perversely providing a dish of sweet potatoes instead of a dish of potatoes when potatoes were ordered is insultingly wrong.
On a recent episode of MasterChef Australia a contestant, Benjamin Bullock, deliberately provided a meal featuring sweet potato beignets (which he called “doughnuts”) though the meal was meant to feature potatoes—it was a “potato challenge”—wherefore he failed entirely to supply a meal which had to feature (in the words of Gary Mehigan, one of the judges) potato as “the heart of the dish”; that mischievous contestant should have been soundly horse-whipped and sent home in disgrace.  The contestant who was instead eliminated from the competition, Josh Clearihan, had prepared inadequate gnocchi (which he insisted on pronouncing “nocky”); he ought to have been punished for his wilfully wayward pronunciation of a classic Italian dish but at least he used real spuds in the potato challenge.

quite appropriate for a potato challenge
quite inappropriate for a potato challenge

See the the first paragraphs of Chapter One, “Misnomers”, from Thomas Love Peacock’s novel, Gryll Grange (London, 1861):
‘Palestine soup!’ said the Reverend Doctor Opimian, dining with his friend Squire Gryll; ‘a curiously complicated misnomer.  We have an excellent old vegetable, the artichoke, of which we eat the head; we have another of subsequent introduction, of which we eat the root, and which we also call artichoke, because it resembles the first in flavour, although, me judice, a very inferior affair.  This last is a species of the helianthus, or sunflower genus of the Syngenesia frustranea class of plants.  It is therefore a girasol, or turn-to-the-sun. From this girasol we have made Jerusalem, and from the Jerusalem artichoke we make Palestine soup.’

Mr. Gryll.
A very good thing, doctor.

The Rev. Dr. Opimian.
A very good thing; but a palpable misnomer.

Mr. Gryll.
I am afraid we live in a world of misnomers, and of a worse kind than this. In my little experience I have found that a gang of swindling bankers is a respectable old firm; that men who sell their votes to the highest bidder, and want only ‘the protection of the ballot’ to sell the promise of them to both parties, are a free and independent constituency; that a man who successively betrays everybody that trusts him, and abandons every principle he ever professed, is a great statesman, and a Conservative, forsooth, à nil conservando; that schemes for breeding pestilence are sanitary improvements; that the test of intellectual capacity is in swallow, and not in digestion; that the art of teaching everything, except what will be of use to the recipient, is national education; and that a change for the worse is reform.

No comments: