Monday, September 10, 2012

Some observations on food names

I have decided that I'm a bit unsatisfied with the naming process of foods. Or more specifically, I have decided that I hate the word loaf when it doesn't apply to bread.

Loaf is a unique measure word. You can't say, "I bought one bread;" you have to say, "I bought one loaf of bread." It's just the way it works. Similarly, you can't say, "Pick me up a pound/jar/bottle of bread," because all bread begins its life as a loaf. A loaf is not made of bread; it is bread. All other forms are variations on or derivations from the loaf (e.g. crumbs, sticks, bowls). If it didn't come in a loaf, it's not bread, but it may be bready (e.g. biscotti, pie crusts, tortillas, cake).


This is why it's inappropriate to pretend that loaf is an acceptable word for any other food, because you're drawing attention to the fact that you took that food and squished it all around until it became a pulpy or gooey mass, and then you pressed it into a mold. The name meatloaf just screams, "Yeah, it's shaped like a lumpy box just like bread—but most of it is meat!" I like meatloaf and all, but every time I hear I'm having it, I expect to hate it.

Velveeta being sold by the loaf brings a similar grossed-out grimace. We already know that Velveeta is an offensive—though delicious—stain on the cheese category (I mean, how does it stay good on the shelf, and why does it get sudsy when you wash it off pots?). Do we really need to be reminded of its questionable origins on the front of the box? Can you imagine if hot dogs were called tubes of low-quality meat paste? I'm not even going to talk about pickle loaf. Google it if you haven't heard of it, and you'll know why.

Decide for yourself—how appetizing do the following dishes sound: cornloaf, hamheap, or turkeylump? 


My younger sister Joanna and I endeavored to rename meatloaf into a tastier-sounding dish, but we didn't come up with anything good. I think the trick lies not in describing it, but in attributing it to a place that it didn't come from. Think of all the foods this has made sound fancy: Spanish rice, Belgian waffles, French toast, Canadian bacon, Santa Fe stew, Italian dressing, Long Island iced tea, Mexican ice cream, baked Alaska, Turkish delight, moon pies? The possibilities are endless!

But I'm stuck: what exotic-sounding place should we attribute to meatloaf, and what should the full name of the dish be so we don't end with a equally disgusting name like Minnesota meat brick?


  1. Malaysian Meat Mass. Nope, still can't find anything acceptable--Joanna

  2. I am seriously laughing out loud! TOO StINKin' hilarious!


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