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Sharing Mana‘o

Maui News readers are, apparently, a bunch of word nerds.

My previous “Sharing Mana’o” on portmanteau words generated a flurry of responses, most offering their original or favorite word mashups. “Nonversation” (pointless small talk) and “plunch” (plate lunch) made me chuckle aloud, but the PortmanTops Award goes to Kathleen K., who coined “grismal” during a December stay in Bowling Green, Ohio. She was kind enough to speculate that I might have come up with that one myself while visiting my son in Battle Creek; alas, I did not. However, Kathleen’s email did inspire a new description of Jimmy’s first winter in Michigan. Born and raised on Maui, he moved there just in time for the worst blizzard and ice storm of the century. My poor child was in blizzery.

Adult beverages and culinary experiments, especially snacks and sweets, seem to be the most popular portmanthemes. I’m not fond of the taste of alcohol, but I will admit to being tempted by pretty names like appletini and scotchka. Beergaritas don’t sound as appetizing, but apparently they’re popular in some circles. I guess, like certain wine and food pairings, beergaritas are recommended when snarfing down enchalupas and quesaritos.

I could feel my blood sugar rising as I read about cronuts (croissants + donuts), frinkies (deep-fried Twinkies) and choreos (chocolate-dipped Oreos). And, thanks to links provided by a poultry enthusiast, I learned that Cajun chef Paul Prudhomme is credited with popularizing turducken, but he didn’t invent it. Neither did John Madden, though many recognize the former NFL coach and TV commentator as the person who really brought the dish to America’s attention, if not our Thanksgiving tables. You likely already know that turducken is a deboned chicken stuffed into a deboned duck, which is then stuffed into a deboned turkey, but did you know that the British enjoy a traditional variant called a gooducken (the “goo” comes from “goose,” not “good”)?

Not surprisingly, almost every pidginteau I can think of is food-related. I mentioned onolicious in the last column, which prompted a few folks to suggest that I forgot the most importmanteau in local cuisine: SPAM! Truth is, I left it out on purpose.

Most people assume that SPAM is indeed a portmanteau: spiced + ham. But another popular theory maintains that it’s an acronym for either “Specially Processed Animal Meat,” or “Shoulder of Pork And Ham.” During WWII, when both American and Allied soldiers were fed tons of SPAM, it became known as “SPecial Army Meat” and, in the UK, “Specially Processed American Meat.” Hormel Foods has never clarified the origin of the name, stating on its website that the real meaning “is only known by a small circle of former Hormel executives (and probably Nostradamus).”

SPAM Crusubi, on the other hand, is a true portmanteau. Or, more accurately, was. Created by the short-lived Hoi Hoi Bakery, this savory bit of grindage featured a fried slab of SPAM seasoned with furikake and ketchup, wrapped in flaky croissant dough instead of rice.

Thank goodness Maui Manjookies are still around. A mouthwatering merger of manju and cookie, my favorite flavor is the peach, but perhaps they’ll try a pluot (plum/apricot hybrid, also called a plumcot) or tangelo (tangerine + pomelo) version.

While I’m making suggestions, how about opening a mochiko chicken stand and calling it “The Last of the Mochickens?” Or maybe some local, SPAM-infused variations on turducken: Spurkey, Spuck and Spicken. Hmmm . . . I think we have a winnah, winnah, fricken (fried chicken) dinnah!

* Kathy Collins is a radio personality (The Buzz 107.5 FM), storyteller, actress, emcee and freelance writer whose “Sharing Mana’o” column appears every other Wednesday. Her email address is kcmaui913@gmail.com.

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