Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Farm Bulletin: What's In a Name?

In this Bulletin, contributor Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm contemplates the naming schemes of fruits and vegetables, for the most part adhering to geographical references at his farm. And speaking of table grapes, as he so eloquently does below, a selection of the farm's finest will be available along with Astiana tomatoes, tomatillos, Striped German slicers, plums, dry goods and other notions at the farm on Saturday, Sept. 7th, Sunday, Sept. 15th, and Saturday, Sept. 21st between 1 and 5 pm. To order 18-pound lugs of Astiana tomatoes, e-mail Anthony directly.

Traditionally, fruits and vegetables were named either descriptively, with a geographic epithet, or after the plant breeder. We have hewed to the geographic tradition with the "Arch Cape" chicory and the "Astiana" tomato. We are working on a new chicory selection and the project is named "Bald Peak." Sometimes the reference is a bit oblique. The "Peace, No War" corn shares its initials with the region to which it is adapted, the Pacific Northwest. Our "Ava Bruma" melon is descriptive, employing the Latin for “behold the solstice.” Alas, modern breeders are suckers for cute, insubstantial names, or worse.

Jupiter grape.

The "Jupiter" table grape is an example. Naming such a voluptuous fruit, linguistically and biologically a feminine organ, after the male Roman god of war is incredibly stupid and tacky. So callow, makes one seethe.  That said, the Rogers and Hart musical "By Jupiter" (top photo) was adapted from the book "The Warrior Husband." The comic premise is the Amazon women go out to battle under their queen Hippolyta. The story takes the perspective of husband who stays at home. The main character, Sapiens ("wise" in Latin), was played by Ray Bolger. Three songs from the musical made their way into the American songbook, including "Wait Till You See Her," "Nobody’s Heart Belongs to Me" and "Ev’rything I’ve Got."

The last was one of Blossom Dearie’s standards, well-suited to her impish delivery and fine piano playing. Here is the original version with Bolger and Benay Venuta.

There is also a beguiling version with Betty Garrett and Milton Berle. Makes us want to rename the grape "Sapiens," a more apt name for a noble and contemplative fruit such as the grape. But, then again, if named Sapiens we would not have thought about a now-obscure Rogers and Hart musical from 1942, the last and longest-running result of their work together.

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