A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from October 20, 2006
Slang Jang (Slangjang)

"Slang Jang” (or “slangjang") is a dish from Honey Grove in Northeast Texas. The ingredients of this hot pepper relish vary, but tend to include oysters, onions, pickles, tomatoes, and hot peppers. The dish is recorded from 1894, and the “slang jang” may simply be gibberish.


Dictionary of American Regional English query
slang-jang—a dish containing oysters, onions, pickles, peppers, etc. We have a single citation from Arkansas, but a Google search suggests that this is still known, especially in the South and South Midland. Is this part of your culinary background?

Dallas Morning News
Steve Blow:
PB and pickles? I’ll take your word for it
06:42 AM CDT on Wednesday, September 6, 2006
(...)
Of all the weird dishes I heard about, the topper may have come from Angie Rhodes of Malakoff. “My dad grew up in a small town in northeast Texas in the ‘30s,” she wrote.

“During warm months, families in the community would come together on Saturday nights to visit and play dominos. Each would bring an ingredient that would be mixed in a giant washtub for dinner. It was a sort of cold stew called ‘slang-jang.’ The ingredients were canned salmon, oysters, green onions, dill pickles, Vienna sausages and canned tomatoes.”

Angie and her sisters carry on the slang-jang tradition at times – “when our spouses are out of town.”

Honey Grove, TX
Honey Grove, Texas
Slang Jang
By Mary Anne Thurman

Slang Jang is a dish peculiar to Honey Grove.  The legend says that a group of men in a grocery store concocted it for lunch one day.  Its popularity grew until there were many people who had Slang Jang picnics at the City Lake.  As a child, I can remember many weekends we spent at the lake playing and then eating the delicious chilled Slang Jang.  I was a blue ribbon winner in the Slang Jang Contest during the Honey Grove Centennial in 1973.

Slang Jang
Mix undrained canned tomatoes with chopped dill pickles and chopped onion to taste.  Add a can of oysters, chopped.  Add Tabasco, salt and pepper to taste.  Add ice cubes to chill.  Serve with saltine crackers.

Many people vary this recipe.  Some add canned salmon or vienna sausage in place of the oysters, or in addition to the oysters.

Another recipe is from the Cook Book by the Westminister Guild of the Presbyterian Church, Honey Grove, Texas, 1922. 

Honey Grove Slang Jang
Mix together two 3-pound cans of tomatoes and three 2-pound cans of oysters, 1 large onion, 2 large pickles chopped, add vinegar, salt, red and black pepper to taste, 1 large lump of ice to chill, just before serving.  Add crushed crackers to thicken.

An article that appeared in sportswriter Tom Lepere’s column in the July, 12, 1974, Dallas Times Herald, also told of the lore surrounding Slang Jang in Honey Grove.  It detailed the recipe of Shirley Ausburn, who along with her husband, ran the Lake Crockett Lodge at that time.  Her recipe contained raw oysters, boiled shrimp and crab meat. 

I want to thank John W. Wilson, of Dallas, who sent me a copy of the clipping and the Presbyterian cook book recipe. 

Google Books
From Blinky to Blue-John: a word atlas of Northeast Texas
by Fred Tarpley
Wolfe City, TX: University Press
1970
Pg. 198:
Goulash, slumgullion, slang jang, pot licker, and lum golly can be applied to any soup or dish containing vegetables (usually left-overs) rather than to a specific kind of okra soup.

Google Books
Eats: A Folk History of Texas Foods
by Ernestine Sewell Linck and Joyce Gibson Orach\
Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press
1989
Pg. 63:
SLANG JANG
1 tomato, fresh from the garden, chopped
1 sweet green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, sliced
About 1/2 pod of hot red pepper
A pinch of salt and sugar
3/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
Combine all ingredients. Add hot pepper and seasonings to taste.

K.K.K. Cook Book
by the “Kute Kooking Klub,”
Honey Grove, Texas
Cincinnati: Press of the Robert Clarke Company
1894
Pg. 35:
Slang Jang.
One can of oysters, one can of tomatoes, one bottle of pickles, one bottle of pepper sauce, three onions sliced; salt and pepper to taste.

17 August 1901, Commerce (TX) Journal, pg. 2, col. 2:
About fifteen couples enjoyed a “slang jang” party at Iceland Monday night, where dancing and music was had until a late hour. All report a most pleasant time with the “slang jang” as delicious.

2 March 1907, Dallas (TX) Morning News, pg. 6, col. 4:
2 March 1907, Galveston (TX) Daily News, pg. 2?, col. 4:
Not long ago the editor of the Honey Grove Signal went to Austin, and while there he appears to have regaled his friends with a dish about which much has been said and little is known. The Bonham Herald mentions the matter in this way:

“The Honey Grove dish, their National dish, is slangjang. It is said to be made up of what generally gets in the receptacle for a pig’s dinner, and it produces all sorts of things including nightmares and new candidates. Editor Lowry introduced it at Austin the other night, when the effect was electrifying, we hear.”

There may be and there are people who are interested in this new culinary concoction, known in the locality of Honey Grove as “slangjang.” Editor Lowry, once upon a time, set down and told State Press all about the discovery of the dish, if such an expression is permissible, and also did the best he could do to introduce him into the mysteries of its making. Told in his way, a graven image would have become interested in it, and it is almost profane to attempt to repeat what he said, so despicable must be the attempt. He said that some years ago a party of well-fed Honey Grove men went into the Territory to hunt. They took with them much food, such as could be carried in tins. Moreover, they appear to have taken other things. The weather was beautiful and game scarce. The party remained in camp waiting for bad weather, having concluded that only when the deer were so depressed by climatic influences that they would cease to run about and would finally lean against trees, they could be killed. Lying around camp for several days, they became full of lassitude and other things, and the terrible condition was finally reached when each declined to cook. Starvation stared them in the face, though they reclined or were stretched in the midst of that plenty which the canned goods represented. Thus flew one, two, even three days, when some one of them, less obstinate than the others, concluded to minister to his own appetite. He made a fire. He placed a kettle of water on it. He attacked the canned goods. he emptied them of their contents of tomatoes, corn, beans, pineapple, peaches, blackberries, ochre, deviled ham, pickled pork, pickled beef and all the cove oysters into the pot. Then added pepper and salt ad libitum. he removed the pot when it began to boil. His companions arose, every one of them, with such appetites as perhaps never man had before. They shook hands across the steaming agent of reconciliation. They drank deep drafts of branch water, and other things, to the eternal health of all. They crowned the genius who had conceived the great dish before them, and crowned him with oak leaves, one of the members having asserted that this is what they did with conquerors and public benefactors in the Roman days. Having eaten up everything they had brought with them, being physically unable to pursue even a squirrel, they pulled for home. They brought back nothing but a reminiscence, and that was of the dish they had eaten. Confused in tongue, down and out in head, they stumbled on a name for the new conception ,and “slangjang” was born. It is a great dish, so Editor Lowry assured State Press; but a man must prepare himself for the enjoyment of it. He must refrain from all other food for at least three days. During this time he must drink copiously of that which will make horseradish and sauerkraut indistinguishable to him. He must cultivate a sullen, obstinate and mean disposition. Then, when having undergone the ordeals mentioned, he will eat “slangjang” and call it something beside which the nectar of the gods is cold, stale and funky beer.

24 September 1989, New York Times, “Reading Food” by Betty Fussell, pg. BR36:
...the Texas hot-pepper relish called Slang Jang.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, October 20, 2006 • Permalink