Po’Boy and Fool
Bee Wilson from the “Appendix: Fifty Notable Sandwiches” in Sandwich: A Global History
There is disagreement about the etymology of po’boy: Becky Mercuri suggests it may come from ‘hungry young black boys requesting a sandwich “for a po’boy”‘ while [John F.] Mariani notes that the term could drive from the French pourboire, meaning a tip.
Elizabeth David A Taste of the Sun [a collection of excerpts from her food writing]
The seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers do describe a number of fruit fools, fools made from gooseberries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants, apples, mulberries, apricots, even from fresh figs; but few of these dishes turn out to be the simple cream-enriched purées we know today. Some were made from rather roughly crushed fruit (the French word foulé, meaning crushed or pressed must surely have some bearing on the English name), often they were thickened with eggs as well as cream, sometimes they were flavoured with wine and spices, perfumed sugar and lemon peel.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) follows Skeat
Fool, in the phr. gooseberry fool. Mahn tells us that this is derived from the F. fouler, to trample on hence, to crush. I believe that this is a mere guess, and that there is no evidence for it. It is quite as likely that it was a sort of slang name made in imitation of trifle. Ben Jonson mentions it; we find “your fools, your flawns;” Sad Shepherd, Act i. sc. 2 (not sc. 7 as in Richardson). But Florio in 1598, explains the Ital. Mantiglia by ‘a kind of clouted creame, called a foole or a trifle in English.’
Transactions of the Philological Society, Volume 27 (1885-87) pp. 699-700.
The “Mahn” is in question is C.A.F. Mahn who for the 1864 edition of Webster’s dictionary redid the etymologies.
There may be an example predating Mahn, A Dictionary of the English Language: In which the Words are Deduced from Their Originals; and Illustrated in Their Different Significations, by Examples from the Best Writers: Together with a History of the Language, and an English Grammar, Volume 2 edited by Henry John Todd and published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown in 1818 gives the French-derived etymology: FOOL [ probably from fouler Fr.] A liquid made of gooseberries scalded and pounded, and of cream.
In these researches I discovered the lexicographer Florio remade as a poet.
Poets have immortalized it in verse and the first-known published reference in England was in 1598, in a poem by Florio called Mantiglia.
What matters is that trifles are delicious and easy to prepare — making it a favorite of English ladies at teatime.
“English “Trifles” take new twist” Lawrence Journal-World Sunday, July 24, 1983 Page 88 [Picked up without attribution by the Observer-Reporter of Washington, Pennsylvania, July 16, 1984 Page C-1 under a different title “It’s The Berries: A Trifle Dessert”].
Some enterprising wit with a flair for bagatelles just might produce a bit of Florio verse on the joys of fool and do so as a po’boy poet.
And so for day 1512