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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FEELING GROGGY

The meaning and origin of words and phrases related to the word grog


Although it is now used more generally to describe an alcoholic drink, the term grog more specifically refers to an alcoholic spirit that has been diluted with water. The name is said to have originated as a disparaging naval term. In the early 18th century sailors of the Royal Navy serving in the West Indies were allowed a quantity of rum as their daily ration of alcohol. In 1740 the British Admiral Edward Vernon (1684-1757) decided that neat rum had too deleterious an effect upon his sailors there and introduced watered down rum as the ration. Sugar and lime juice was added to improve the flavour and help guard against scurvy. The modern equivalent of this drink is the mojito cocktail.


Admiral Vernon's nickname was 'Old Grog', from the cloak made from grogram (a coarse cloth made of silk and mohair with gum acting to stiffen and waterproof it, the name of which came from the Middle French gros grain 'course grain'). So it was only natural that the sailors, who resented this change, should name the new diluted drink ‘grog’. However its introduction had the desired effect and the new drink was officially adopted by the Admiralty. Indeed it was to become a part of naval heritage and, although it was limited to ratings only in 1918, it was not discontinued until 1970. After its naval, rum-based, inception the term grog came to be applied to a number of different spirits that had been watered down, especially if they had been sugared and diluted with hot water to be drunk as a warming drink in winter. Later still the word was used to describe any alcoholic beverage.


Sailors who overindulged in grog were said to be feeling groggy. The use of the word groggy was later expanded to include those who were feeling equally bad or unsteady due to illness rather than as a result of intoxication.


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Wine, women and song