I have bagels for breakfast.
It’s not because I prefer bagels. Life is far too complicated for that. It’s that I know how to pronounce the word bagel and there’s a lot of comfort in that.
In a perfect world, I’d have that fluffy funny shaped breakfast pastry. I just don’t know how to ask for it.
Don’t get me wrong. I know the name for it. I just don’t feel right saying it.
Yes, I’d like a cup of coffee, some tomato juice and a quachsoahnt (spelled phonetically).
Any normal waitress would look at the guy who said that and unless he was Jacques Chirac, Jacques Cousteau, or Maurice Chevalier she would actively ignore him until he packed off his phony French accent to Mickey D's.
Stand back folks, he’s pretending to be French. It’s just a matter of time until he gets rude, lewd, nude or any combination of the above.
The other options are no better.
May I have a crescent roll please?
That name doesn't sound right unless spoken in the adolescent descant of the Pillsbury dough boy.
I could try the Americanizing compromise – cressahnt (again spelled phonetically). It’s an efficient way to sound both stuck-up and uneducated at the same time.
I’ll just have a bagel please.
How much of what we eat has to do with names? I’ve never tried mince pie because when I was six my brother (who loved mince pie,) told me it was made of shredded mice. I imagined the little mice that helped Cinderella, ground up by her wicked stepmother and stuffed into pastry dough. I know it’s not really made up of mice, animated or otherwise, and even if it were, the stepmother didn't do household duties, but as assuring as that sounds, the picture remains in my head.
Shoofly pie is very popular in eastern Pennsylvania. Winters are long there – maybe everything starts to sound appetizing after a while. I’d rather stay out of smelling range of that wonderful name image.
I eat asparagus, but that’s only because my Mom was smart enough to tell me it was something only grown-ups like, so I ate it to prove I was grown up. The trick didn't work when she tried it with lima beans, however.
Then there’s goulash. I’ll grant that it’s Hungarian, and goo might sound delicious in eastern Europe, but to create a viscous food that begins with goo is an almost certain way to keep little kids from eating it.
Name/image connection isn't foolproof. Abernathy, my neighbor’s kid, came over and saw a carton of mint chocolate chip in my freezer. As he was too young to read the carton, I tried telling him it was green ice snot with black boogers.
He still ate half the carton. Some kids just love boogers.
Unlike Abernathy, I am committed to my diet of easily pronounceable, non-image producing foods. In moments of fancy, I break free of my bondage – eating croissants, pate de foia grass, spotted dick,
well, you get the idea.
Or failing that, I imagine my whole wheat bagel to be a donut – or is it a doughnut?
Food spelling is a subject for another day.
Now some people will eat anything - as long as it's made of COOKIES!