Sunday, March 22, 2009

Birth of a New Food Word

Observation: Have you ever noticed there is often one piece of food left on the plate at the end of a meal? A German friend visiting Canada commented that in Germany there wouldn't be anything left on the plate. This is apparently a very Canadian thing. I felt this ubiquitous morsel lacked a name/word and one needed to be created.

Possible Reasons: It is either through politeness or not wanting to seem greedy that we leave this solitary piece of food.

Result: This last piece of food, which all the people at the table probably want to devour, but won't eat for the aforementioned reasons now has a word of its very own.

The Creation Process: the first idea was that this was an orphan piece of food (some thought process brought a french pronounciation to mind - orfin) which somehow led me to dauphin (the name for the french crown prince) when I mashed these two words together I got ophin. When I shared this with others I was asked it if meant "the end" in french) and the final result was: aufin.

The word is: aufin (pronounced as in french, sounds like o-phin).

Go forth, spread our new word. When you see the aufin, exclaim this word and claim the food as yours! (Remember you heard it here first, maybe one day it will make it into the Oxford English Dictionary.)


Meg Whetung said...

I sadly wasn't there when this word was born, but I've been using it! And it's so useful – I do think that having a name for it helps end our Canadian shyness around it. It's easier to say "mind if I take the aufin?" than, "Um, does anyone want that last garlic prawn or can I..." Also, since it has a cool name now, it's more like a coup to be the one that gets it, rather than something to avoid as the minutes pass. Good work Michelle! Let's make up more food words...

Anonymous said...

Eating the last piece brings prosperity or is a sign of greediness depending on the culture. The last piece therefore is called either a "thrive bit" or a "force piece" promising future health and strength; or it is the "etiquette piece, which is there to be refused. The person who takes it will be an "old maid" remaining as single as the last piece on the plate. There is a lot more on this in Margaret Visser's fascinating book The Rituals of Dinner. Your library should have it but your group might enjoy purchasing a copy and sharing something from it each week.