by Jo Barnes –
We last boarded the phrase train into the world of travel, but today let’s find some tasty terms as we head into the kitchen.
I’ve got a hankering for something sweet. We could reheat a TV dinner, but how about we start from scratch? I’m not talking about the scribbles in our recipe book. It’s a phrase from the world of sport where it’s been applied to various activities including boxing, cricket, golf and running. Players had to put their feet at a starting line that was scratched on the ground before they could begin. So too, we’re at the beginning of the baking process; we’ll start from scratch.
Let’s make a cake! Measuring cups, mixer, cooking pans, got ’em. Now we’re cooking with gas! Don’t be alarmed, it’s not an ingredient! And, we’re not literally baking with gas appliances. The idiom goes back to the 1930s advertising campaign by the American Gas Association to convince the public to switch to gas rather than electricity on their new stoves. With everything we need, now we’re rolling!
We could create a basic white cake, but how about a downright decadent Devil’s Food Cake? Dabbling with sorcery or risking our fate? No we’re just playing with delicious ingredients. Many say the phrase goes back to a 1902 southern American recipe that called for melted chocolate and baking powder. The combination was thought to create a chemical reaction and a red colour which resulted in the “devilish” name. Our modern version uses cocoa powder and baking soda, but produces the same sinfully dark and delectable results!
We’ll take our time to ensure just the right amount of each ingredient and properly mix them because this isn’t exactly as easy as pie. I don’t mean making a pie is any easier, and we are actually making a cake. The phrase came into use in 19th-century America when pie was something enjoyed and served at special occasions. It wasn’t so much that pie was easy to make, but rather it was so easy to eat. Here’s hoping our efforts produce a dish so scrumptious we’ll all want second servings!
Through the oven window you can see the pie bubbling away. Mm-mm! How about a cup of Joe while we wait? Like the writer, you may take offense, but the phrase doesn’t refer to a personal name. Some believe it’s a combination of the coffee names java and mocha that overtime morphed into “joe.” Some think it was because coffee was a basic drink, a beverage for the common “joe.” Either way, we’ll rest our cooking efforts there.
Join me next time at another feast of phrases! I’ll be there with bells on!