Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Archive for August, 2016

Muddled in migration

Here are two words related to food that I  have used without thinking until I heard them used differently in a way that made me think…” wait a minute… that makes more sense than what I’ve been saying all along.” I’m not about to go to war over it, but I’m just saying, don’t be surprised if one day when you order a spaghetti marinara as an an entrée, you get an appetizer of a small (starter) plate of spaghetti studded with seafood in an olive-oil-and-lemon base and nary a tomato in sight.

The reason for the disconnect between what you think you ordered and what you got lies in the original meanings of the words. Entrée is the French word for starter, which is how it’s used in France (I think), and even some English-speaking countries. But in the Americas and in India too (especially in those pretentious restaurants where the waitstaff speak to you in phony accents with noses held high), it has come to mean the main course. Why, I simply can’t fathom. After all, the word even sounds like what it is, something with which one “enters” a meal.

The marinara muddle also makes sense if you think about it, for the word derived from a common root with marine or mariner, i.e. having to do with the sea. Wikipedia tells me that the dish spaghetti alla marinara means a pasta dish cooked in the style of the mariners or seamen. I suppose these medieval mariners might have preferred the fruits of their New World discoveries to those from the sea, but am willing to believe that someone Down Under got it right, and marinara sauce should contain ingredients from the sea. Anyone have any alternative evidence for which one might be more correct? Or should we just go the Winnie-the-Pooh route not make a choice. Hey! I’d not say no to an plate of pasta two ways, regardless of whether it’s served as the starter or the main.