Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Centennial Food Guide #3

© The Canadian Centennial Library 1966
I'm re-reading The Centennial Food Guide this week, and am sharing a short excerpt each day.
Novelist Hugh Garner compiled this "Devil's Dictionary" of  food-related euphemisms in the 1950s:
   A grill is a room with tables in a hotel basement, where yesterday's dining-room remains become today's businessman's hash. A cafeteria is a chow line where the saving on waitresses is not passed on the the customer. A cafĂ© is a restaurant with toothpicks on the table. A lunchroom is a counter with stools, carved out of the ladies' wear shop next door.  A French buffet is an American invention, at which you try to pile three bucks' worth of food on a plate that holds less than a dollar's worth. A smorgasbörd is a Scandinavian caper to get rid of leftovers when they have no icebox. A lunch wagon is a superannuated streetcar, in which the fry cook hypnotizes you with his skillet gymnastics so that you fail to notice that the chips have been pre-fried and the round steak pounded with a piledriver.
   European cuisine means that everybody in the kitchen is an immigrant, and they put garlic in the hamburgers and beets in the soup. A delicatessen lunch is a sandwich bar with dill pickles.  A drugstore eatery is dedicated to eating on the fly, but gives the customer a fighting chance for survival by seating him five feet from the bicarbonate of soda. A health bar is a joint where neurotics pretend that carrot juice will replace the martini, and, ambiguously, where they serve nuts with their salads. An espresso bar is where a machine as complicated as Univac grinds, burps, and bubbles away, and brings forth a lousy cup of coffee. A tea room is a resting place for varicosed virgins where the creamed potatoes are stamped into forget-me-nots.

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