A Pickle

September 16, 2012

Buzzed on corn bread after last week’s blog, I was singing an old Cab Calloway song to myself earlier this week, getting all jazzed up to talk about it in this week’s blog. How many Thornapple blog readers remember the immortal line “Pass me a pancake, Mandrake”? How bout “Pasta fazoula, Tallulah?”

{Insert long pause here.}

On the other hand, you may well have a vague recollection of these:

Have a banana, Hannah,
Try the salami, Tommy,
Give with the gravy, Davy,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

All of them are lyrics from Calloway’s rendition of “Everybody Eats When They Come to My House, recorded in 1947. You might have gotten a tingle from the Hannah banana and the salami Tommy rhymes because you heard them as recently as last Thursday on the National Public Radio Morning Edition broadcast. They were doing a story about a woman who was trying to recover her Grandma Minnie’s sour pickle recipe, and was being helped in the quest by “veteran pickler” Marisa McClellan. You can go to NPR’s website and either read or listen to this heartwarming tidbit of Americana, if you are so inclined. Or if you are more disposed to sarcasm and dada, you can switch to the Portlandia website where “artisan curators” Lisa and Bryce show that pretty much no matter what you’ve got lying around “We can pickle that!”

Veteran picklers? Artisan curators? Must be getting late in the season here at the Thronapple blog. NPR only did the first verse of “Everybody Eats at My House”, which is why Hannah and Tommy are more likely to ring a bell than Mandrake or Tallulah. Jeannie Burns’ lyric goes on and on, I might add.

Try a tomato, Plato,
Here’s cacciatore, Dory,
Taste the baloney, Tony,
Everybody eats when they come to my house!

It goes on in this spirit at some length. However, despite a mystifying reference to something that the robotic lyric transcribers call a “fendel” (and it’s definitely not a Reisling), there is not one single pickle in this song. Hence the burning food ethics question for this week’s blog: Why? Why, NPR, is this the theme for your segment on the lost pickle recipe?

A generic food song, I guess.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural, food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University


3 thoughts on “A Pickle

  1. As you know, you will have to quote some tenor line from some Verdi masterpiece that I can translate on Google Translate before I will have any idea at all what you are talking about.

    I thought Cab Calloway was third baseman for the Cardinals on the Gashouse Gang team.



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