Thursday, October 28, 2010

2010.10.28 — Is it me being a jerk, or is life jerking my fushigi chains?

Have you ever wondered where the name 'jerk', as in jerk chicken or jerk pork, came from? Earlier this week, on Tuesday I believe, the Canadian Food Network cook, Michael Smith did. He asked it out loud while I was cooking in the kitchen and my wife was watching him make jerk pork (I think). He said, paraphrased from memory, 'I bet it comes from the head jerking back when you get hit by all those flavours!' (Or words to that affect.)

So, I ask, is life jerking me around, am I slowly going nuts, or did I experience another fushigi last night when I read the following:
Johnnycake is sometimes said to be a contraction of journey cake, the idea being that it was a food packed for journeys. But since it is a kind of cornbread, and cornbread patently is not a travelling food, the explanation is unconvincing. Another suggestion is that it is a corruption of Shawnee cake. In New England it was called jonakin or jonikin long before it was called johnnycake, suggesting that johnnycake is a folk etymology based on some earlier, forgotten, Indian term. Two native American foods that were designed for travelling were pemmican and jerked beef. Despite the name, nothing is jerked to make jerked beef. The word comes from charqui, a Spanish adaptation of a Peruvian Indian word. Though the variant name jerky is etymologically closer to the Spanish original, it actually entered the language much later. Jerked beef was well established in the colonies by the early eighteenth century. Jerky isn't attested before 1850. Pemmican, more straightforwardly, is from the Cree pimikân (p184).
Bill Bryson.
Made in America:
An Informal History of the English Language in the United States
New York: Perennial (HarperCollins), 2001.

Synchronicity-petite or just a 'coincidence?'
Is this an interesting suggestion as to how pervasive is the interconnectedness of the world, as is argued by physicists who support string and super-string theories? Or is my finding these things interesting just my becoming fixated like a madman on a whiff of nothing, a puff of meaninglessness in a meaningless world? Hmmmm. And I guess my blog has truly degenerated into a place of fushigi.

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