Where does that come from?
New York City (and Chicago) provided the nation with a hash house lingo that was spoken for over fifty years. Most of the lingo is lost to history, but parts of it are still used today.
Lost, also, has been the role of Michael Casey of the Bowery in creating this lingo. Casey was completely unknown until a computerized database just this past year has helped in his rediscovery.
17 July 1899, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 5, col. 3
STORY OF A QUEER
CAFE IN NEW YORK
Michael Casey, the original owner of the place which he styled a cafe, belonged to that class of men known in New York years ago as the "Bowery Boys." Casey was a prominent member of this peculiar clan and up to the day of his death, which occurred a number of years ago, he always mentioned his connection with the boys as a matter of pride.(...)(Col. 4 -- ed.)
If one sat down to the table and ordered chops and eggs the order went to the cook as: "A stack of reds and two in the air," and while lost in wonderment and vainly endeavoring to find out what he meant, down would come the dishes with a meal equal to anything at the big hotels.
"A dozen in the grease" meant fried oysters; "one jamoca" was for a cup of coffee; "pompano for fifty," which would undoubtedly cause you to clutch your purse and run, meant simply a half-dollar order of fish; "pork and -- ,"translated was, "bring beans on the side," whole "ham and -- straight up" gave the patron ham with eggs that were soft on top.
"Shipwreck two" was the alarming order for scrambled eggs and "hand me down the B. and O." was for steak smothered in onions. If you fancies two softboiled eggs the waiter would call out: "Drop two in the well and let 'em come up easy." "Plate mystery" brought plain corned beef hash, and if one only desired sausage, "three links of the cable line" brought the dish in a hurry.
For mince pie with sugar sprinkled on the top, the order was, "Dyspepsia in a snowstorm." This term was sometimes changed to "Put raisins in the hash." An order for eggs on toast went to the kitchen as, "Adam and Eve on a raft," but if after giving this order the customer wanted the eggs plain, the countermand went out as, "Save Adam and Eve; sink the raft." Eggs fried on one side were alluded to as, "White wings; sunny side up."
Casey himself was the originator of these unique and peculiar orders and when asked for an explanation as to why he used such an outlandish system, he always wagged his round head, closed his left eye and emitted the one word: "Advertisement."
It was a big advertisement for the house and probably brought many a collar to the Casey coffers that otherwise might have strayed afield.
There will be many to mourn the blotting out of this celebrated place, but there is a new Bohemia in Gotham and the fickle public is always prone to forget familiar places at short notice.
C. J. K.
New York City • Food/Drink • (1) Comments • Tuesday, July 27, 2004 • Permalink
These descriptive menu orders in hashhouses make me laugh and brought a feeling of dejavu even though I’ve never had the experience of eating in such a place. I do recall hearing of them. The orders are so creative. I found this page while searching for “Pig Latin”.