Fricassee of Words

Fricassee of Words – Bring Home The Bacon

Fricassee: Meat cut into pieces and stewed in gravy.

Fricassee of Words: Musings on food-inspired expressions, words and word play, with occasional bits and pieces of kitchen jargon too.

Don’t stir the pot, go fry an egg, two eggs in a basket are better than one hen in the bush (or something to that effect), having a bone to pick… we use food-inspired expressions on a daily basis. We have done so for as long as we have used language. In fact, some food expressions are totally outdated as far as the food or related cooking techniques are concerned, yet their meaning endures. In this segment, we’ll explore food expressions and kitchen jargon.

Since our nation’s economy seems to be on our minds quite a bit lately, let’s start with something along those lines.

Bring home the bacon

Meaning – To earn money. More specifically, to earn money to sustain a household. By extension, it also refers to financial success as a whole.

Back in 17th century England, bacon was a slang word for a person’s body; specifically the body of one who worked very hard to earn a living. It may have become associated with one’s livelihood by extension.

Some believe the expression to date back several centuries, and to have been inspired by an exemplary couple, in 12th century England, who so impressed the Prior of their little town that he awarded them a chunk (or side) of bacon. This inspired other couples to seek to win the prized meat and so every year a new side of bacon was awarded so that indeed each newly recognized “perfect” couple brought home the bacon as one might bring home a trophy. Several references in literature suggest this may be an authentic origin for the expression.

A more recent record of the expression suggests that its widespread usage originated in Goldfield, Nevada, in 1906. The World Lightweight Championship took place in September of that year. It featured fighters Joe Gans and Oscar ‘Battling’ Nelson. Before the fight, Gans received a telegram from his mother. It stated, “Joe, the eyes of the world are on you. Everybody says you ought to win… you bring home the bacon.” Gans won.

“I have not only the bacon, but the gravy,” was his telegraphed reply to his mother, reports The New York Times.

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