Eating Your Words

The fascinating origins of everyday culinary words and phrases

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Food glorious food!

Everything but the kitchen sink

Keep the pot boiling

Out of the frying pan

Salad days  

In the soup!

Cook one’s goose  

Give us a butchers!   

What a sauce!

A sandwich short of a picnic

Feeling groggy           

Just my cup of tea

Look to your laurels   

The spice of life      

In a nutshell   


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The meaning and origin of drinks named after people

A Bloody Mary is a cocktail made with a blend of vodka and tomato juice flavoured with Tabasco or Worcestershire sauce, served poured over crushed ice.

It is named after Mary Tudor (1516-58), daughter of Henry VIII, who became Queen Mary I and was known as Bloody Mary because of the number of protestants she ordered to be executed during her reign. The drink has spawned the Bloody Maria (the Spanish version of Mary) which is made with tequila instead of vodka, as well as the non-alcoholic Virgin Mary which is the same drink without the vodka.

The Buck’s fizz, a combination of champagne and orange juice, is named after the Buck’s Club in London where it was first mixed in the 1920s. the drink is thus indirectly named after one Captain Herbert Buckmaster who’s idea it was to found the gentleman’s club which was established in 1919.  

If you slip someone a Micky Finn you give them a drink that has been drugged without their knowledge so as to incapacitate them. Dating from the 1920s it is named after a notorious Chicago barkeeper who alledgedly used knockout drops to incapacitate and rob customers around the turn of the 20th century.  

Earl grey tea has long been said to have originated as a gift to Earl Grey, leader of the Whig Party and Prime Minister from 1830-1834.  Perfumed with the essential oil from the rind of the inedible species of orange known as bergamot, the blend was reportedly sent to the Earl by a grateful Chinese mandarin. However, considerable doubt has been cast on this account and even on whether the Earl ever drank the brew, although this does not mean that it was not named after him. The tea itself is best drunk as it is, without milk.  

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In a nutshell