[Sca-cooks] Sauce?

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Tue Oct 9 07:05:29 PDT 2012

Been reading The Old Foodie? http://www.theoldfoodie.com/

To start, there's this:

Q My dictionary says that the word "sass" as in "back talk" comes from the word "sauce." Can you explain the relationship between these words? - S.N., Adams, Mass. http://www.sunjournal.com/node/77010

A: "Sass" developed from a pronunciation shift involving the "au" sound in words like "sauce" and "sausage." By the end of the 17th century, this shift meant that some Englishmen were pronouncing "sauce" to rhyme with "pass." This pronunciation was brought to the American colonies, where the spelling "sas" appears for "sauce" by 1775.

This word differed not only in pronunciation but also in meaning from what we now think of as sauce: It usually denoted a side dish of vegetables or stewed fruit rather than a liquid garnish. In the 19th-century United States, the side dishes were "long sass" or "long sauce" (carrots, parsnips and beets) and "short sass" or "short sauce" (potatoes, onions and turnips). A suggestion of these old uses can still be seen in "applesauce" and "cranberry sauce." It was also in the 19th century that "sauce" and "sass" came to be used figuratively to mean "impudent speech." Both words - especially "sass" - are still used that way, and their adjective derivatives "saucy" and "sassy" also survive.

Readers may send questions to Merriam-Webster's Wordwatch, P.O. Box 281, 47 Federal St., Springfield, MA 01102.

It turns up in various books, mainly as an explanation of how things used to be.

Corrupted in New England to garden sass, it included all the vegetables raised in the garden. At one time some of the vegetables were classified as short sauce, others as long sauce, but these finer distinctions have been lost, and in northern New Hampshire and Maine, even today, garden sass is the accepted phrase for all green vegetables. In the old days vegetables were actually served in sauce dishes and eaten with a spoon. pages 104-105 from Secrets of New England Cooking
 By Ella Shannon Bowles, Dorothy S. Towle 1947.
OED also lists among the Americanisms not mentioned by the Old Foodie

1705   R. Beverley Hist. Virginia iv. xvii. 56   Roots, Herbs, Vine-fruits, and Salate-Flowers..they dish up..and find them very delicious Sauce to their Meats.
1809   ‘D. Knickerbocker’ Hist. N.Y. (1820) iii. vii. 204   Some buxom country heiress,..deeply skilled in the mystery of making apple sweetmeats, long sauce, and pumpkin pie.
1813   T. Batchelor Gen. View Agric. Bedford. 76 (E.D.D.)   The potatoe..is also the principal vegetable used for sauce.
1893   F. B. Zincke Wherstead xxvii. 261   Vegetables are, with us [in East Anglia], ‘sauce’.
sauce-garden n. U.S. a garden in which vegetables are grown for the table.

1837   T. C. Haliburton Clockmaker 1st Ser. xii. 103   They vegitate like a lettuce plant in sarse garden.

sauce-man n. U.S. one who deals in vegetables.

1837   N. Hawthorne Twice-told Tales (1851) I. xvi. 249   Behind comes a ‘sauceman’, driving a wagon full of new potatoes, green ears of corn [etc.].

There's a marvelous set of reference books called The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE). It would be the place to look, but it's not online
and I won't be able to be on central campus to look this week.


On Oct 9, 2012, at 9:15 AM, Elise Fleming wrote:

> "long sauce" or "short sauce"

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