The Hungry Reader: The Devil’s Food Dictionary

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The Devil’s Dictionary is a satirical work by Ambrose Bierce, written between 1881 and 1906, and also going under the name The Cynic’s Word Book. It lampoons common human failings, politicians, religion, business and more in its definitions of many common English words. It’s dark, pessimistic, and very funny. You can read the whole thing at Google Books and browse it by letter at The Devil’s Dictionary.

Now web humorist Barry Foy is doing something similar in his Devil’s Food Dictionary, the “Food Lover’s Guide to Gastronomy, Cooking, Cuisine, and Food.” It’s quite tongue-in-cheek, however – take a look at one of the current entries below.

Here is Foy’s entry on “breaking” (as in sauces)…

breaking The failure of an emulsion such as mayonnaise or hollandaise sauce to achieve the proper consistency, or the loss of that consistency once it has been achieved. Usage of this term dates to a period when sauces were in fact not liquid but solid, probably of a consistency akin to that of today’s saltwater taffy. At that time, the quality of a sauce was determined by how high it towered over the dinner table. This of course left it susceptible to hazardous “breaking.” A legendary banquet at the court of France’s Louis VI (“The Fat”) featured a hollandaise sauce in the life- sized form of a woman from Holland; it broke in midmeal, and its upper half fell on a courtier, killing him instantly.

And on like that. We found some of the other entries very funny. They definitely skewer some foodie pretensions, although he does it in a somewhat broader style than Bierce’s dry wit.

(And just for the record, here’s the real deal with why sauces break and how to fix them when they do.)