Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"All Things Considered"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
December 30, 2004
Podcasts

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: You're Toast

Listen

Happy New Year, Great Saturnalia, Season's Greetings or Yumpin' Yule-- however you celebrate the shortest days of the year, I'm sure food (and especially drink), has a lot to do with it. And since all holiday celebrations begin or end with a toast, I thought some information about how all that clinking of glasses came about, might be fun, and provide some good conversation fodder should you find yourself trapped behind a punchbowl with nothing witty to say.

Toasting came about because once upon a time the rich and famous were in the nasty habit of poisoning each other rather than filing lawsuits. A nobleman in 14th century Europe in the midst of a pesky property dispute with his neighbor might suggest mead cocktails at Lancelot Lagasses or the Earl of Puck's Steakhouse so they could "settle" things. Rather than appear with a high priced mouthpiece to plead his case, or perhaps lacking any real evidence that he was entitled to starve his serfs into submission and steal their land, His Royal Fullness would have his in-house chemist poison the wine or beer (usually the only disease-free potable liquid), of his political or business opponents. One dinner, a few drinks and poof, no more plaintiff! When you consider the time and money saved in court costs, legal fees, and copying charges, it was a beautiful system. Unfortunately it made dining with strangers, and especially your relatives, a dicey proposition.

So the expense-account crowd in medieval London, came up with a custom to take the stress out of imbibing anywhere but your own back yard. The host would take some toast (dry bread soaking up more liquid than fresh), and dip it into his guests flagons and take a bite. Assuming he didn't keel over, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, got drunk, and went back to the business of debauchery and exploiting peasants.

The glass clinking thing dispensed with the bread, and had the host pour some of his guest's wine into his glass or cup, and then drank up. Upon seeing him do this, everyone clinked (or clunked) their wooden or metal cups together, signifying trust and honesty at the table. So along with this indispensable trivia, here's a six-pack of pretentiously obscure toasts to use instead of the same old boring "cheers!" or "salud!" over this year's vintage bottle of October 2004 Manischewitz. All of these are some version of "to your health" or "here's to good food and drink":

In Basque it's Topa. Greeks say Kali Orixi. While Russians yell Na'zdroveya. Asturians (whoever they are) proclaim Gayola, and in Italian you say Chin Chin. (which is not to be made amongst Japanese, since you would be toasting their penises)

And my personal favorite: In Zulu - Oogy Wawa. This is John Curtas wishing you a Happy New Year Topa! Chin Chin! Oogy Wawa! and Gayola!!

See discussion rules.

Archives

Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.

Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.

Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.

Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.

Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.

Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.

Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."

Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.

Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.

Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."

Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las Vegas than you might think.

Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.

May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.

May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.

May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.

Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations

Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.

Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.

Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.

Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

© 2014 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.