What's in a Whange?
New England's "spoon pies" (slump, grunt, cobbler and the like, featured in a Food section cover story last month) are vernacular dishes without legally enforceable definitions; one cook's pandowdy is another's cobbler. Just to confuse matters further, though, William Woys Weaver claims in his book "Pennsylvania Dutch Country Cooking" that cobbler is actually a variety of gumbis, a Pennsylvania Dutch casserole made of shredded cabbage and other vegetables.
"Gumbis undergoes one further metamorphosis when covered with a top crust," he writes. "It becomes a schlupper (SHLOO-per), or slump, in English. . . . To define a schlupper, however, is rather difficult. . . . It is a nebulous hybrid of a fruit potpie and a dessert gumbis, for it is usually a fruit dish. In essence, it is the original cobbler.
"In areas of Appalachia where Pennsylvania Dutch settled," he adds, "schluppers are known as whanges, sonkers or sonker pies."
Whoa, now it sounds as if he's just making stuff up. Anyway, this would be more convincing if he had an explanation for the name "grunt."
Everybody's a Critic
"Jackie Mason and Raoul Felder's Guide to New York & Los Angeles Restaurants" (Dove Books, $9.95) is one book title that lets you know exactly what to expect: some actual restaurant reviews (they may be the work of Felder, a divorce attorney) and a lot of Mason's stand-up comedy shtick.
The restaurants--18 in New York, 10 in L.A.--are basically show biz hangouts; in L.A., for example, they review Drai's, Morton's, the Ivy and Spago. The L.A. show biz restaurants are always full of phonies ("In an unknown coffee shop in Los Angeles, customers talk about working on a script. If there is a rug and a tablecloth in the place, the customer's story is that he knows the studio bought the script, but they haven't confirmed it yet because it will cost them so much money"), while the New York show biz restaurants will mostly kill you quick with cholesterol.
The shtick is a matter of taste, but the reviewing part is usually quite sensible, though we have to warn that the "chapata" bread at Spago is probably ciabatta.
Names for the Blue and Crabby
A male blue crab is called a jimmie; a female is a sook.