Waffles and Wassail
On Wednesday I accompanied some co-workers to the 82nd annual Waffle Shop at the downtown Presbyterian church.
What does one consume at a Waffle Shop, you may ask? Upon paying, you pick a red or green ticket - one has a turkey for turkey hash, the other a pig for sausage. I selected the turkey hash, as I passed on it last year and this time my curiosity got the best of me. You then sit at long communal tables with other parties and -with thanks to the volunteer servers with swift skills -promptly receive a waffle, a bowl of grits and your selected meat. The hash was interesting...tasted like chunks of turkey in a gravy, with a little stuffing for texture.
The tradition of Waffle Shop began when ladies shopping for Christmas gifts downtown (back when downtown retail was thriving with actual shops) needed a place to grab a quick bite to eat,
'cause Lord knows it wasn't proper for a woman to dine alone downtown.
This afternoon my book club gals and I had a Christmas potluck - enjoyed it all, the highlights of which were brie with pear chutney, buckeyes (peanut butter and chocolate truffles), strawberry shortcake, and a really awesome cherry berry crisp. I'm a sucker for sweets, what can I say?
For beverages, we had a really tasty orange spiced wassail. We discussed how to pronounce wassail - apparently it's a contraction of the Anglo-Saxon term, wæs hæil, meaning, "Be healthy" (thanks, Wikipedia). Here's what the Big Book Of Beastly Mispronunciations: The Complete Opinionated Guide For The Careful Speaker by Charles Harrington Elster has to say:
Wassail WAHS’l (rhymes with fossil and jostle).
Some speakers put a sail in wassail and say WAH-sayl or wah-SAYL, and these variants can be heard in certain old Christmas songs. Others pronounce the first syllable with a flat a as in wag: WAS’l or WAS-ayl. All these pronunciations, along with WAHS’l, are represented in 20th-century dictionaries. However, the preponderance of authority from Walker (1791) to Worcester (1860) to Webster 2 (1934) to the NBC Handbook (1984) favors WAHS’l, and all four major current American dictionaries list this pronunciation first.
Wassailing—as in Here we go a-wassailing—is pronounced WAHS’l-ing, rhyming with the nonce word fossiling, and wassailer is pronounced WAHS’l-ur, rhyming with jostle’er.So there ya go.