Terms of Endearment

Nutella Cupcake
Creative Commons License photo credit: tjstaab

I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. I’ve already done my homage for this year to the great love day, but couldn’t resist adding just one more post to the event. Actually, I’m afraid I won’t remember this when next year come’s around (thanks to being truly middle-aged!) so figured I better include it now.

If you’ve been following my posts, you already know I’m a classical music fan. I stream my favorite San Francisco station, KDFC, while I work, hoping that the Mozart effect will rub off even at my advanced age! Anyway, the announcer was giving some background on Joseph Haydn, referencing his most unhappy marriage and what good ‘ole Joe called his wife: “that infernal beast!”

That got me to thinking about other terms of endearment. I couldn’t help but notice how many endearing terms reference food, especially desserts! Sugar plum, sweet cakes, pudding, honey, sweetie pie…

The only vegetable I could think of was pumpkin. Why pumpkin? Orange is most people’s least favorite color and a pumpkin is r-o-u-n-d. Who wants to be round?!? I guess if you’re a redhead you might be called carrot top, which never made sense to me because they really are green. There’s a common French phrase, mon petit chou, which means “my little cabbage.” I think something gets lost in the translation.

My rocket scientist Dad called my brother muffin foot when he was a baby (better than piano legs, which my mother used with me!). I’m not really sure of the origins, but needless to say he stopped calling him muffin foot by the time he was walking. I’m not sure many women want to be called muffin, especially with the pejorative references to muffin-top. I’m not sure love handles would go over any better.

The only G-rated meat term of endearment I can think of is lamb chop. Little lambs are sweet and cute, but they have about the same intelligence as a cow. Even marbling of fat gives the lamb chop its best flavor. I might take offense being referred to as a lamb chop!

Which leads me to dumpling. I haven’t ever eaten a dumpling and I wasn’t really sure what a dumpling was. I asked my MIT-grad husband who thought it was a lump of dough fried in oil. But to make sure, he did Google the term. Dumplings can be flour-based or sweet; filled or not; fried, baked, steamed, or boiled. Now knowing what exactly a dumpling is, I still don’t think it elevates it as an endearing term. Dumpling and dimple are too close and all I can think of is dimpled flesh. Yuck!

Maybe being referenced as “My wife, that infernal beast,” may not have been flattering, at least the infernal part could be seen as passionate. Haydn did have a passionate dislike for his wife. I guess, we’re left with our culinary terms of endearment. Just to be safe, keep it sweet!

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