Do you want to have a little fun? The next time you stop at your favorite local restaurant for breakfast, order a couple of dipped eggs. Unless this person is from southeastern Pennsylvania, you’ll get a stare, complete silence for a moment or two and then the first words out of his nor her mouth will be, "And just what would you like me to dip them into?"
Each one of us has special childhood memories on which we periodically reflect and chuckle. Colloquialisms for various foods or other items are good examples. Growing up back on the farm in southeastern Pennsylvania, pot pie was anything but a pie. It wasn’t even baked in an oven. Instead, it was cooked in broth on top of a stove. Still, we called it pot pie.
Shoofly pie was baked in an oven but had neither shoes nor flies in it. It was an overly sweet conglomeration with its main ingredient, molasses. Nothing ever went to waste. The frugalness of our ways even carried over to speech patterns. The milk is all! It was never all gone, but rather, just all. Ask, all what? and you’d be looked upon as an alien from some foreign state west of the Appalachians. Either that or from someone who just landed on earth off the 27th moon of Jupiter.
Shortly after moving to the Midwest I used that term with my soon to be wife. "All what?" she asked.
"What do you mean, ‘All what?’" I answered. "It’s all. You trying to start an argument or don’t you understand the king’s common, everyday English?"
But of all the strange names we had for foods, the oddest was dipped eggs. While dipped eggs were actually cooked eggs, they were never dipped in anything. They were simply fried in a skillet. The yokes were soft, unbroken and surrounded by the whites. In other words they were served either sunny side up or over easy. Either way the yokes were still liquid.
The term, dipped, or dippy eggs, is a colloquialism used by folks only in that part of the country. Their reasoning is that you use your toast to dip into the yoke, thus sopping up the contents.
I once asked my mother why some of the neighbors call it dippy eggs, a term that we considered to be a slang from the more "properly used" dipped eggs.
"That’s because they don’t dip their toast," she answered. "They eat them without toast. Now be quiet and eat your dipped eggs. There are poor mountain people whose chickens aren’t laying very well and who are just dying for some good home cooked dipped eggs." Mom always provided good logic for us to do as we were told.
When I first left the farm and went to the big city, I stopped at a five and ten luncheon counter one morning and ordered dipped eggs. The waitress, obviously from another part of the nation and just starting a new job, chomped heavily on her gum and stared. "Huh?" she asked.
"Dipped eggs," I repeated, "and while you’re at it, home fried potatoes, toast and coffee.
There was a long pause, and even longer stare. She then halted her chewing just long enough to ask me, "And just what would you like them dipped in?"
That was my first clue that I’d better change my speech patterns or I’ll be always looked upon as a dwerb.
I once made eggs for my grandson. "What are these, Grandpa?" he asked.
"They’re eggs," I answered. "Eggs over easy. Why aren’t you eating them. Aren’t they fixed to your liking?"
"They’re okay," he mumbled. "But I wanted mine made just like you use to eat them," he said. "Dipped."
Ah yes! There’s absolutely nothing more self-satisfying than passing on family traditions!
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