Today I went to the high school to volunteer tutor but I didn’t have any takers for awhile so I pondered the names of fruits and vegetables.
Eggplant. Where did that get its name? Sure, it looks like an egg in shape, but it’s purple. Maybe some purple dinosaur could have laid such an egg, but it seems an odd name. A cherry, on the other hand, is well named. It’s a happy fruit – a cheery fruit, if you will.
But who came up with the name for squash? It’s a word most often used to describe what you do to a bug. There’s a game called squash that’s played with racquets. I guess you could use the rackets to squash a bug, but it would probably crawl through the little holes. The point is, it’s neither a logical nor an appetizing name for a vegetable, and you just have to wonder how it got its name.
Some names don’t show any creativity at all. Green beans is one. You’ve got a bean and it’s green, so you go, “Duh, what will we call this thing. Uh, let me see, uh, I’ll think of something, uh, just give me another second here, it’s going to be a good one, uh, okay here’s what we’ll call it: GREEN BEAN! Star fruit is the same way. And I’ve never seen breadfruit – does it look like a loaf of bread?
If you want creative names, go to the melons. I love the name “casaba.” I’ve never eaten one but they sound exotic, like something you’d eat in your cabana on the beach. There’s also honeydew melons. Doesn’t that sound delicious? And cantaloupe, which sounds like some kind of sailboat – spinnaker sails catching the wind and good-looking guys in deck shoes and microbrews, slurping the juicy summery orange melon and tossing the rinds over the side. All of these are members of the muskmelon family, just so you know.
Also, here’s something interesting. If you scramble melons you get lemons. Did someone look at lemons and say, “These are the same shape as melons but we can’t call them the same thing or it will be way too confusing. I know! Lets rearrange the letters and come up with a whole new word!”
The Legume Family has some odd characters. The little guy is named a chickpea, which sounds sweet and cuddly, but it is also called the garbanzo bean, which sounds like a guy who smokes pot and surfs all day. My daughter was about four years old and had this little orange figurine that she called, “Orangie.” She was trying to be like her big brother, who gave everything nicknames, so she informed us that “his name is Orangie but you can call him “Tail.” We laughed so hard she started crying but we couldn’t help it – the thing didn’t even have a tail. It was two totally unrelated names that made no sense, just like chickpeas and garbanzo beans.
Here’s some names that do make sense: blackberry and blueberry. They at least let you know what kind of berry you’re getting. But what about strawberry? Is it the color of straw? Does it look like straw? Does it at least taste like straw? No. Then what genius came up with that name?
Here are names I like but they’re hard to spell – pistachios, avocado, cilantro, and rhubarb. In fact, my spell check says I’ve gotten two of the four wrong.
Finally, there’s the potato and tomato, so similar in so many ways. You can slice ‘em, dice ‘em and rhyme ‘em.
Here’s a sentence I made up that I think is particularly clever: This thyme lettuce squash and beet the boysenberry them before the news leeks to Rosemary.
Luckily for you, a student came into the library wanting my tutoring services, so my fruit and vegetable musings stopped here.