What's in a name, the Bard might have said. Foodies, however, might not agree with him. The culinary world is full of food items with names that baffle us either about their key ingredient, place of origin, or more. Here we pick a few interestingly misleading food names and figure out what they really are.
Bombay duck: Before you order this delicacy off the menu, make sure you know what you are in for. It may sound like a duck delicacy cooked with authentic flavours of Mumbai. If you think so and are not a fish-lover, you might be in for a disappointment. Despite its name, Bombay Duck is not a duck, but a fish. Also known as Bommalo or Bomil, it is a native of Maharashtra's coastline and is also found in the Bay of Bengal. With soft, slimy flesh, it is an ugly-looking fish with a strong odour that could turn off your appetite. But it is a prized delicacy and is also eaten salted and sun-dried. A popular legend goes that the fish is named after Bombay Dak or Bombay Mail trains which were used to transport the dried fish. This is how the fish got its name, which later came to be known as Bombay Duck.
French fries: These irresistible potato fries, served hot, crisp or soft, should have been called Belgian fries as the French may have nothing to do with the 'fries'. Though there are many stories associated with the origin of these elongated pieces of fried potato, there is one that has endured the times. It dates back to World War I during which the American troops were stationed in Belgium. The American soldiers tasted and fell in love with Belgian potato fries, which they supposedly called 'French' fries because the Belgians spoke French at that time.
Sharjah shake: This delectable mix of 'njalipoovan' bananas (a popular variety of small banana cultivated in Kerala), chilled milk and sugar is probably not known to anybody else, except Keralites. For Keralites, however, this is a prized culinary possession. The refreshing, creamy drink is a must-try if you are on a visit to the state. If you are wondering what its origins have got to do with Sharjah, a city in the United Arab Emirates, there's none. While some speculate the work of a Sharjah-returned Kerala expatriate, there are other stories about the origin of the drink. One such story revolves around Kalanthan Koya who opened a juice shop in Kozhikode district of Kerala. The first customers of Koya's shake were a group of youngsters watching the Sharjah Cup. When asked what the drink was, Koya quickly cooked up a name: Sharjah shake. The name seems to have stuck and the rest is history.
Mincemeat: You might already be picturing a plate of finely chopped meat. Hold on. Unlike what your imagination suggests, mincemeat has absolutely nothing to do with meat. Mincemeat, in fact, is a sweet and spicy combination of chopped fruits, raisins and spices with a generous mix of brandy or rum. Yum! Often baked into pies, this spiced fruit mix is traditionally served during Christmas and is very popular in the UK. The original recipe from medieval times wasn't quite 'meatless'. Mincemeat originally evolved as a way to preserve meat without having to smoke it or salt it. But as time passed, the quantity of meat used reduced considerably to the extent that mincemeat contains no meat these days.
Head cheese: We just love cheese in any form, don't we? So now, what's head cheese? A head-sized portion of yummy cheese? Nope. The 'head' stays, but the 'cheese' goes for a toss because head cheese is a European sausage made out of the flesh from the head of a calf or a pig. Woah! While the brain, eyes and ears are usually kept out, tongues, feet and hearts do find a place in this delicacy. The meat is simmered and a stock is produced. When this stock cools down, it becomes a jelly due to the presence of natural gelatin in the brain. Though the whole process might sound gross, it is actually said to be quite delicious and nutritious as well.