Saturday, September 21, 2013

"T'aint worth wrappin' 'round my fingah!"

Yup, we all have our regional dialects, some are less dominant while others are so noticeable, "they ah spurted out faster 'n we kay'ah to notice". Although many people have told me to neglect trying to cover it up, I am always(now that I have taken some national spots)trying to pronounce my R's and get rid of that nasally twang often associated with Yankee speech. To me, listening to myself on-air or through the media, I sound like a back-woods cook. Not to say I am not proud of everything I stand for as well as my ingrained speech patterns, there are just times that I wish I could simply pronounce just one R.
Regardless, take a moment and look at some of the terms and "Yankee-isms" from days gone by that your forefathers and mothers unmindfully mumbled, much the same way we pay no attention to what we say today. (Great Keezer's ghost, my Yankee-ism's are really thicker 'n fiddlers in Hell I noticed after rereading all of my posts.)

My friend, Tim Sample, is a great resource as well with regards to our way of life, speech patterns and especially Yankee humor and story telling. You can find him at, on YouTube and he has a multitude of books you can take a peek at through Barnes and Noble and other sites and stores. His resume is extraordinary and lengthy, with a stab at national exposure  many times over as well. I initially wanted Tim(and he had agreed) to write some New England stories for my cookbook, The Yankee Chef, but my editor thought the 760 pages was a tad too heavy so I am hopeful my next cookbook will contain some good ol' Yankee humor as only Tim Sample can do.

 In the meantime, enjoy these long-forgotten terms. I have included only a few of the ones I remember my Dad telling me. And as the post title says, these aren't worth wrappin' 'round my fingah, but it is nice keeping them from being furgottin'!

Caught. "The milk was "caught" before it was burned."
On the mending hand or Able to set up and eat a few porridges. A convalescent. "My grandmother is on the mending hand".
Spandy. Shortened from Spic and Span, clean.
Thatchy. If the cream cheese or milk tastes "thatchy" it was because the cow ate thatch, a long, coarse grass that prevalently grew in slat marshes of old.
up in your bean water. Agitated, angry opr simply lively.
Black as zip. Extremely black(my father used this phrase as long as I can remember)
Bluer 'n a whetstone. Sad or dejected.
Boozefuddle. Liquor
Dust yer back. To win at wrestling. "I'll dust your back if you want to wrestle."
Thick as fiddlers in hell. Very abundant
Like haulin' a hog out of a scaldin' tub. Very difficult
Herrin' choker. A Prince Edward Islander or native of any of the Down-east, Canadian provinces.
Don't know enough to lap salt. Extremely stupid
He ain't no bigger 'n a pint of cider. Very small
Prayer handles. Knees
Hot as a red wagon. Very drunk.
Slacker 'n dishwater. Very unkempt or dirty.
Slower 'n a jull-poke. Extremely slow.
Taller 'n a slackpole. Very tall.
Wee-Waw. Very loosely built or unsturdy. "That barn you raised is a wee-waw".
Jorum and Boozefuddle. A jug of liquor.
Gorim. Clumsy or foolish acting. "Jasper's kid is a mite gorim".
Cling John. A small rye cake
Last at Pea time. Hard up, desperate. "Widow Bailey has been last a pea time since her husband died".
Gander Party. A gathering of men only.
Cape Cod Turkey. Very obscure but it has come to mean any cooked, stuffed fish. It may have begun around Thanksgiving time, when some Cape Cod fishermen had a bad year fishing and could ill-afford turkey for their Holiday repast. Fish was their natural replacement, so stuffing and baking it in lieu of the turkey gave rise to Cape Cod Turkey.
Pot Luck.Originally meaning a some cabbage and corned beef, it was known as such as early as 1780. this should deter anyone from giving a Corned Beef and Cabbage the distinction of Irish origination. It is known that the Irish immigration didn't begin until over 50 years later.
Thank'ee Ma'ams. My Uncle Stan Demuth used to say that all the time as he was driving his car over a two quick hills, which in turn felt as though the inside of your stomach felt as though it was coming right up through your throat. Originally, to prevent a hilly road from being washed away in heavy rain, it was the custom long ago to make a series of barriers(little bumps similar to speed bumps of today) that would turn off any sudden current of water that may be rushing down a certain road. These barriers would give an emphatic jounce and a twist to a wagon that was descending. From the involuntary motion of the head nodding in an affirmative manner(much as you would speaking to a lady in those days) while going over these barriers gave rise to the phrase. And one would always say , "thank'ee ma'am" as you went over. 


Anonymous said...

Hi Chef. Just wanted to let you know that I absolutely love you new site. I can't believe you haven't been successful in your television endeavor yet. Keep up the good work and I hope any naysayers get a life. If people complain about your recipes being too simple, I guess your persona is working. Bravo to you and Bravo needs to look at you for a show called The Yankee Chef, hahaha.

Royal Presence said...

I enjoyed reading your blog, I'm looking through some past issues right now. I too find it a nice pastime to read old recipes, especially my Mom's, who was the family cook and baker. I also enjoy when I pick up a 2nd hand copy of an old cookbook and find writing in the margins of the owner who jotted down special notes. I try to imagine what they were thinking of when adding to their recipe journals.

Your most recent post of the language was enlightening, as I'd never heard of most of the phrases, but I loved the term "prayer handles". So cute!


The Yankee Chef said...

Thank you Paula. I, very often, try to put myself in the kitchen of our ancestors(even my grandmother)and think about how it must have been so heart warming, personable and embracing sitting around and enjoying great food and just simply talking. I also love old cookbooks, hoping I will find handwriting from many years ago. Thank you for the great comments and I hope you take a peek at my new website,

Royal Presence said...

Will do. I have lots of recipes, some of which are shared, most of which I seem to hoard! It seems your heart is in a treasured place, so would be willing to share some things if you are willing to cook them :-)