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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Evidence that Fran can even turn a cooking disaster into a linguistic opportunity

Yesterday I made Florenjacks. Another name for them is Flapentines. It depends which way you look at it. They are the first biscuits in history with a duality of personality, a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, only baked on Gas Number 6 and containing flaked almonds.

You've never heard of Florenjacks/Flapentines? Well, where have you been?

Forgive me. I am dissembling and making you feel bad about yourself for being out of the Florenjack/Flapentine loop. You were thinking, I know, 'How come I'm always last to hear about the latest baking fashions? Whaddya mean, no one cooks Madeira Sponges any more?'

They call it FOMO, don't they? Fear Of Missing Out.

Having brought up the FOMO issue, before I tell you about my duality biscuits,  I have a raging desire to tell you the difference between acronyms and initalisms.

It wasn't until I trained to teach English that I discovered there was a difference, in the same way as, it wasn't until I trained to teach English that I discovered that a teacher's bladder can hold fifty-three litres of liquid and that a Hard Stare was Paddington Bear's gift to the teaching profession.




Words like FOMO, AIDS, LASER, NATO and SCUBA are called acronyms because they become words in themselves. You don't sound out each initial, although when the acronym is first coined, you might do. Sometimes, with acronyms, you don't even know you're using one. I didn't know that SCUBA stood for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, for instance, not that I had undergone any FOMO about this, and even now I know, I don't feel my life enriched to any great extent. As far as conversation starters at parties go, I'd imagine, 'Do you know what SCUBA stands for?' might send your fellow guest running for the whiskey table.

That's acronyms for you, anyway.

But, when people say O.M.G or T.T.F.N (as Terry Wogan used to at the end of his radio shows) or F.B.I or the U.N or the B.B.C, this is called an initialism because you pronounce each initial separately.

I guess these initialisms don't turn into acronyms very easily. 'Omger, omger, did you see that programme about the effbih on the bubbercuh?' 'No, sorry - anyway, got to go. Tuhtuh-fer-un!'

Another linguistic concept is called blending - you might know blended words as portmanteau words, where you take two existing words and run them together to make a new one. Like, 'brunch' or 'Brexit' or 'Brangelina' for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, although that's a bit awkward, with rumours flying around about their marriage. There may be unblending ahead/But while there's moonlight, and music, and love and romance/Let's face the music and make biscuits.

*seamless, expertly-handled linguistic link back to biscuit story*

You won't have heard of Florenjacks or Flapentines - my new blended names for biscuits - because I invented them yesterday by using a recipe for Florentines but misreading an instruction saying ADD ONE TABLESPOON OF FLOUR as ADD FOUR OUNCES OF FLOUR.

Easy mistake, obviously ...

... if you're two, or wearing a blindfold, or as dead as stone.

I realised my error only after I'd ...

a) wondered why the mixture was so dry and crumbly in the pan
b) added syrup
c) added more butter
d) added more syrup
e) and butter
f) struggled to 'roll the mixture into round balls' because bits of nut kept landing on my feet
g) put the 'balls' on the baking tray
h) patted them into shape
i) re-shaped them, more firmly
j) re-shaped them again while damning them to hell and back
k) slammed them in the oven

At that point, I went back to the recipe and realised that what I had in the oven were not Florentines, but Something Else, as yet Unnamed.

I think Victor Frankenstein felt the same as he watched the monster he thought would be a beautiful new human being respond to the surge of electricity, sit up, like a giant misshapen gargoyle with poor seam work, and say, 'DADDY!'

Unfortunately, the four ounces of flour in the biscuit recipe
 had made much more difference that Fran could ever have anticipated 


At least I didn't reject my creations like Victor did. They're not Florentines. They're not like anything I've cooked before. Or eaten before. They're an odd mix of Florentine, flapjack, digestive biscuit, rock bun, and despair at failure. Bits are still falling off them, like Kamikaze crumbs, leaping off the edges of the biscuits, and who can blame them?

But they're edible.

And they gave me an opportunity to tell you the difference between acronyms and initalisms, which isn't an opportunity that comes my way often.

For which you are, no doubt, grateful.

Addendum: While you're sitting there feeling grateful, here's a picture of the Flapentines to look at - River's comment below reminded me that I'd been remiss in not posting one before ...













27 comments:

  1. The thing with the initials was something I didn't know but more importantly, you've given me a new go-to argument every time I cook. OK, not every time I cook, but near enough.

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  2. Your bit about Paddington's hard stare reminds me of the time my young-ish son turned to me and said: "Mummy, do you have eyes in the back of your head, too?" Thanks for making me giggle.

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    1. A very useful skill for mummies!

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  3. you haven't met Ermagerd then?

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    1. I have, now I've googled!! New one on me!

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  4. I noticed you dodged translating SNAFU, a term that, unsurprisingly, was coined by the military.

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    1. That's two things I've had to Google tonight! I am learning a lot today ... :)

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  5. When I was a new bride we had friends over for dinner & made a peach pie--or at least I tried. It was too runny to be a pie & too solid to be a cobbler. Voila--the invention of the peach piebler!!

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  6. No pictures of the flapentines? I'm disappointed. But at least they were edible, so your efforts weren't entirely wasted.

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    1. I have been most remiss. Picture added!

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  7. Fascinating and funny post, as ever, Fran. I would've enjoyed my English lessons so much more if you'd have been my teacher - I'm sure. And my home ec. teacher. I once made a chocolate mouse - I mean 'mess' - which stayed in the fridge for days. It never set and ended up being washed done the sink. Happy Easter and enjoy your holiday.

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    1. I smiled at the thought of that poor chocolate mousse in the fridge, with everyone willing it to set. And then its ignominious end ... I have had a few disasters like that. Once I made some ginger cookies which spread so much in the oven that they became one giant ginger cookie the shape and size of the baking tray. But, again, it tasted fine!

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  8. Any ideas what to call an Easter chocolate fudge cake that was supposed to be baked for 30 minutes and ended up getting 2 hrs 30? At the end of the movie, I went into the kitchen and thought Why is the oven on? Oh (insert acceptable expletive). Sigh. Your post cheered me up enormously. So funny...

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    1. A good movie, then?! And I think you call that a chocolate fudge cake but with a slightly different meaning on 'fudge'...

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  9. They look rather yummy.

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  10. Far too tempting looking , whatever they're called . It's cruel .

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    1. Virtual biscuits have no calories. That's probably of little comfort ..

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  11. I like turning nouns into verbs, such as "I IMDb-ed to learn the name of the actress and discovered it was Fran."

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. That's one of my favourite things too. 'I verbed a noun' is another example!

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  12. I bet you they'll become a new family favourite -- otherwise known as an NFF. Thanks for teaching me the difference between acronyms and initialisms!

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  13. At least they were not FUBAR!

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    1. Gosh, I'm learning a lot from my followers this week!

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