Friday, March 29, 2024


March 30 is World Idli Day, a holiday started nine years ago by M. Eniyavan in Chennai, who runs a catering business specializing in idli. There are newspaper columns and videos touting the innovative varieties they sell.

The same batter can be used to make (the ordinary varieties of) idli, dosa, and uttapam.. This is made from urad dal,(उड़द दाल), that is, dehulled beans (cotyledons) of black gram (Vigna mungo), soaked and ground, then mixed with soaked and ground polished rice.

Vigna mungo used to belong to the Phaseolus genus. One might wonder why urad dal / mash dal is mungo, but mung dal (मूँग mūṅg दाल) is radiata. It starts with Linnaeus. He gave the name P. radiatus to a plant described by Dillenius, which was mung. But the type specimen he grew wasn't the same, but P. sublobatus. Then later he gave the name P. mungo to another plant grown at Upsala, believing that it was a mung bean, when it was urad. Roxburgh tried to make P. mungo mung; but that just caused confusion. Hobson-Jobson gives moong as P. mungo and oord as P. radiatus. Prain pointed all this out, calling it “unfortunate.” A good one-page summary is here.

The batter is fermented overnight or up to a day: acid and gas for leavening are produced by lactic acid bacteria like Leuconostoc mesenteroides, naturally present in black gram. Idlis are steamed in special pans (like a dumpling), dosas are griddled and folded and stuffed (like a crepe), and uttapam are filled and cooked and flipped (like a pancake).

A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary only lists cognates, all referring to the same dishes, for iṭṭali 'idli' and tōcai 'dosa'. Wiktionary for Tamil தோசை tōcai gives an etymology from தோய் tōy 'soak; curdle', that is, 'ferment', citing a 1967 article in செந்தமிழ்ச்செல்வி Senthamilchelvi (that does not seem to be anywhere on the site to which it links or among the scanned issues). Devaneya Pavanar's A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Tamil Language gives a similar derivation: தோய் tōy → தோயை tōyai → தோசை tōcai. Wikipedia for தோசை tōcai adds a couple that sure look like folk etymologies: தேய் tēy 'rub' + செய் cey 'do', on account of how dosas are cooked; and ஸ்ஸை ssai, the hissing noise dosas make when cooking, prefixed by தோ < Hindi दो 'two' because you hear it twice. This latter is even cited by Pavanar as the perfect example of a “Playful Etymology”, that is, a joke. Pavanar for இட்டளி iṭṭaḷi again lists cognates: ம. இட்டலி Ma. iṭṭali (ഇട്ടലി); க. இட்டலி Ka. iḍḍali (ಇಡ್ಡಲಿ); தெ. இட்டென Te. iḍḍena (ఇడ్డెన). And some relationship with இட்டம் iṭṭam which I am not sure I get. Kamil Zvelebil's Comparative Dravidian Phonology proposes that, for these idli words, the -ṭṭ- in the Literary Tamil indicates a loanword from Kannada through a Colloquial Tamil -ḍḍ-; the same lack of orthographic -ḍḍ- is seen above in Pavanar's Tamil spellings of the cognates. For ஊத்தப்பம் ūttappam, Pavanar gives ஊற்று ūṟṟu → ஊத்து ūttu + அப்பம்‌ appam, that is, ūṟṟu 'pour' and appam, a sweet rice-flour cake. On the other hand, OED says, “ūttappam, lit. 'raised pancake' < ūttu- 'to blow, swell' + appam.” Similarly, it seems that of the Combined Tamil Dictionaries with entries for ஊத்தப்பம் ūttappam, Cre-A's Tamil-Tamil and Madras Lexicon, propose 'pour' and 'blow', respectively. Both alternatives involve a transitivizing gemination, 'flow' into 'pour' and 'blow (wind)' into 'blow (horn)', from roots ūṟu and ūtu-, covered by Schiffman's Reference Grammar Of Spoken Tamil 3.7.6.

More than fifteen years ago, when this blog was just getting going, LanguageHat had a post about the then newly released The Tenth Rasa: An Anthology of Indian Nonsense, quoting a poem by Sampurna Chattarji.

Idli lost its fiddli
Dosa lost its crown
Wada lost its wiolin
And let the whole band down.

This poem was originally written in English, but Chattarji also translates from Bengali: many of the translations in the anthology are her work, including some by Sukumar Ray. These and more are in Wordygurdyboom! The Nonsense World Of Sukumar Ray. Chattarji's series of sixteen Indian food poems was titled, “The Food Finagle: A Culinary Caper.” I believe they are all in the children's book The Fried Frog and Other Funny Freaky Foodie Feisty Poems, but without some footnotes that were printed elsewhere. Another one included in the anthology is relevant to this post.

Idiyappam keeps yapping
Puttu plays golf
Utthapam's my girlfriend
Mutthu's real name is Rolf.
Menus in South Indian restaurants detail their selections in roman script, and the lurking presence of English words within these essentially South Indian words was really the starting point of this verse.

I think the note refers to menus all in Roman type, versus having the names that way within overall explanations in, say, Bengali or Hindi or Marathi. Although naturally menus mostly consist of just the names of dishes and prices.

There are a number of South Indian restaurants around here (San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland) and even more a little bit South (Sunnyvale, Cupertino), where we used to need to be more often before the pandemic. Even before moving from Boston, we would occasionally make our own dosas from store-bought batter. And, like everyone else, during the pandemic we did more of that out here, since they tend to get soggy as take-out, even if home-made is never as crispy as in a restaurant. The Indian market walking distance from home has recently expanded, and there are several more along possible bus routes from work. All stock fresh, locally produced (Fremont, I think) batters. But even more lately, in order to reduce salt intake (some of these mixes are like .2g / idli, and that's before any chutneys), we have been making it from scratch. Since we haven't sprung for a proper wet grinder, we use a Vitamix. And since it is never warm for a whole day in San Francisco (it is never really cold, either), we ferment in an Instant Pot on the yogurt setting. Naturally it took a few tries. The only gotcha seems to be that if the blender motor gets too hot it can kill the bacteria in the urad dal. So we use ice instead of just water while grinding it. The rice doesn't seem to care. We usually use idli rice. The cashier at the market will sometimes confirm that this is what we want, versus “regular” basmati rice, which is thoughtful. They may also want to protect their limited stocks, since last fall India banned the export of Non-Basmati White (NBW) Rice, including idli and sona masoori, which are used in South Indian cooking. Basmati might not even be a problem, since plenty of it is grown in California and Texas. We do add fenugreek (मेथी mēthi < Drav.), since we like its taste. Experiments by one of the prolific posters on The Fresh Loaf, a website for bread nerds, have determined that it doesn't add anything to the biochemistry. We don't mix by hand, though, which is another traditional, supposedly necessary, step. I always reasoned that this was not to introduce more bugs, but to start the warming process. And that's unnecessary when using a yogurt maker. When the batter is ready, we first make idli. Leftover steamed idli can be fried, although we sometimes cheat and do that to some right away. After a few days, we make dosas. And, then, finally, at the end of the week, with the last of the batter, an uttapam or two.

Read More

The annual Idli Day newspaper pieces and blog posts typically include a summary history based on the work of K. T. Achaya, an oilseed chemist and culinary historian. Specifically, his Indian Food: a Historical Companion and a rearranged and somewhat shortened version of mostly the same material, A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food. (In what follows, some glosses are takens from the “Glossary of Non-English Words” in the former. When the source may not be obvious, such glosses here may have his initials, KTA. Similarly the transliteration of single words, but not source quotations, may be chosen to match, even though it is not entirely self-consistent. Otherwise, book titles will follow any romanization printed on the title page or the ALA-LC Tables. Everything else should be ISO 15919, although there are without doubt accidental deviations due to my careless copy / pasting.) Some of the major points available about idli are:

  • The first mention is in the 920 Jain work in Kannada, Vaddaradhane, in the variant form iddaligē, as one of eighteen items served to a brahmachāri who visits the home of a lady.
  • The earliest recipe is from Chavundaraya's 1025 Lokopakara.
  • It is described in the 1130 Sanskrit work Manasollasa.
  • These early versions differ from modern idli in three important ways:
    • They do not include rice grits along with the urad dhal.
    • They do not call for a long fermentation.
    • They do not specify cooking by streaming to fluffiness.
  • Somewhat later references compare idli to the moon, which might suggest whiteness from rice.
  • The fermentation technique used for idli might have originated in Indonesia:
    • There is a long tradition of fermented grains there.
    • It would be brought by the chefs who accompanied the Hindu kings of Indonesia on their visits to South India in search of brides.
    • In fact, there is an Indonesia dish like idli called kedli.
  • The Chinese traveller Xuan Zang noted that India lacked vessels for steaming.

The last two are naturally fuel for a nationalistic take in the piece, should that be desired, as it is more and more these days.

The Vaddaradhane Wikipedia entry is just a stub. For example, it does not reference any English translation, like Veneration to the Elders. Nor any secondary works like this study (originally a PhD thesis). But still an idli-lover has inserted a sentence and footnote citing the mention of iḍḍalige there. The reference to the eighteen dishes, of which iḍḍalige is one, is in the chapter on Bhadrabāhu, but not in his story itself, but rather in an inserted sub-story with a flashback to an earlier Śruta Kevalī, Nandimitra. Nandimitra's father is killed by robbers before he is born and his mother dies shortly afterwards. The relatives he then lives with also die and the townspeople decide this is a bad omen and the orphan is sent wandering. As a teenager, he is taken in by a fisherman who, seeing his Herculean strength, uses him to gather firewood that they sell. The fisherman instructs his wife not to feed the boy too much, but she does so once at festival time. This leads to Nandimitra asking for more than rags as clothing, which alerts the fisherman, who accuses and beats his wife before throwing her out. Nandimitra then begins independently selling firewood and supporting his adoptive mother. It is at this time that Nandimitra encounters the Bhaṭṭāraka Śivagupta returning from the forest after a long fast and decides to follow him. The king has proclaimed that no one should stop Śivagupta from coming to the palace to break his fast and the king and queen come out and greet him. They mistake Nandimitra for Śivagupta's disciple and feed both of them the wide variety of rich foods in question. This motivates Nandimitra to ask Śivagupta to also become a monk. The king, seeking further merit, tries to entice Nandimitra to break his fast at the royal table again, but Nandimitra reasons that by fasting longer he will get something even better. He repeats this with the queen the next day and so on for a week. And then Nandimitra is accepted by Śivagupta and renounces food altogether.

Before getting to the list of eighteen items, it is worth noting a few amplifications of the half-sentence context summary given by Achaya and copied into most citations since. The hosts are the king and queen in the palace, not just a lady at home. The guests are a bhaṭṭāraka and Nandimitra, who takes a vow of brahmacāri as a result of meeting him and the feast. Moreover, fasting and feasting, or the promise thereof, drive his spiritual development toward a śrutakevalī.

In any case, only twelve of the eighteen dishes are enumerated:

ರಾಜಾನ್ನದ ಕೂೞುಂ ಪೆಸಱತೊವೆಯುಂ ಬೆಣ್ಣೆಗಾಸಿದಾಮೋದ ಸುಗಂಧ ಪರಿಮಳಂ ನಾರ್ಪ ತುಪ್ಪಮುಂ ಪಲವುಂ ತೆಱದ ಬಾಡುಗಳುಂ ತುಯ್ಯಲುಂ ಪೂರಿಗೆಯಿಡ್ಡಲಿಗೆ ಸೋದಿಗೆ ಲಾವಣಿಗೆ ಘೃತಪೂರಂ ಲಡ್ಡುಗೆ ಮಂಡಗೆ ಮೊದಲಾಗೊಡೆಯ ಪದಿನೆಂಟುಂ ತೆಱದ ಭಕ್ಷ್ಯರೂಪಂಗಳುಮಂ
rājānnada kūḻuṁ pesaṟatoveyuṁ beṇṇegāsidāmōda sugaṁdha parimaḷaṁ nārpa tuppamuṁ palavuṁ teṟada bāḍugaḷuṁ tuyyaluṁ pūrigeyiḍḍalige sōdige lāvaṇige ghr̥tapūraṁ laḍḍuge maṁḍage modalāgoḍeya padineṁṭuṁ teṟada bhakṣyarūpaṁgaḷumaṁ

(The text here differs only in ಪ್ರ pra for ಪೂ pu.)

Achaya says that this is the first mention of the following foods: iddaligē, pūrigē, sōdhigē, lāvangē, ghratapūran, mandigē. Likewise Kittell's Kannada dictionary in the Digital Dictionaries of South Asia cites this passage for a number of words.

  • rājānna kūl 'royal variety of rice'.
  • pesaṟa tove 'green gram boiled dish' (Tel. పెసలు pesalu).
  • beṇṇegāsida āmōda sugaṁdha parimaḷaṁ nārpa tuppa 'fragrant ghee obtained by melting perfumed butter'.
  • palavu teṟada bāḍugaḷ 'various kinds of side dishes'. (? This, with the preceding item, is quoted, s.v. ಬಾಡು bāḍu. 2. 'flesh', but it cannot be meat. A modern Kannada translation has ಹಲವು ರೀತಿಯ ಕಾಯಿಪಲ್ಲೆಗಳು halavu rītiya kāyipallegaḷu 'various kinds of nuts'.)
  • tuyyal, a sweet milk dish.
  • pūrigē 'sweet stuffed wheat circlet (KTA)' poori.
  • iddaligē idli.
  • sōdhigē 'sweet vermicelli dish (KTA)'.
  • lāvangē 'perhaps a wheat dish (KTA)'. Others take ಲಾವಣಿಗೈ lāvaṇigē to be from ಲವಣ lavaṇa 'salt' and so 'pickles'.
  • ghratapūran 'ghee-filled wheat flour confection (KTA)' (Skt. घृतपूर ghṛtapūra).
  • laddugē 'fried globules of ground pulses, or sesame seeds, or rava moulded into balls with sugar or jaggery syrup (KTA)' (Hin. लड्डू laḍḍū) laddu.
  • mandigē 'sweet stuffed wheat circlets (KTA)'.
  • 'totaling eighteen kinds of edible'.

There is no indication of what the iḍḍalige is made from there. The Lōkōpakāra (ಲೋಕೋಪಕಾರ. Note that that Wikipedia page has an incorrect link to the wrong ಚಾವುಂಡರಾಯನ Cāvuṇḍarāyana, the ruler and not the poet. The Kannada literature page is correct.) passage is more specific.

ಅರೆದುರ್ದಿನ ಬೇಳೆಯ ನೊಂ ।
ದಿರೆ ಮೊಸರಧಿ ನೀರೊಳಿಂಗು ಜೀರಗೆ ಕೊತ್ತುಂ ॥
ಬರಿ ಮೆಣಸಲ್ಲಮಿವಿನಿತಂ ।
ಬೆರಸಿಡ್ಡಲಿಗೆಯನಡಲ್ಕೆ ಕಂಪಂ ಕುಡುಗುಂ ॥೧೧॥
aredurdina bēḷeya noṁ- |
dire mosaradhi nīroḷiṁgu jīrage kottuṁ- ‖
bari meṇasallamivinitaṁ |
berasiḍḍaligeyanaḍalke kaṁpaṁ kuḍuguṁ ‖ 11 ‖
Grind the washed split blackgram dhal and add clear water obtained from the surface of the curd to it. Add asafetida, cumin seeds, coriander, and black pepper to it. Idlis prepared from this ground paste will be highly delicious. (tr. Ayangara; see also Peppertrail)

Manasollasa (मानसोल्लास Mānasōllāsa) has recipes for both dhōsakā and iddarikā.

विदलं चणकस्यैवं पूर्वसम्भारसंस्कृतम् ॥९२॥
ताप्यां तैले (ल) विलिप्त्यायां धोसकान्विपचेद्बुधः ।
माषस्य राजमाषस्य वट्टाणस्य च धोसकान् ॥९३॥
अनेनैव प्रकारेण विपचेत्पाकतत्त्ववित् ।
vidalaṁ caṇakasyaivaṁ pūrvasambhārasaṁskr̥tam ‖ 92 ‖
tāpyāṁ tailē (la) viliptyāyāṁ dhōsakānvipacēdbudhaḥ |
māṣasya rājamāṣasya vaṭṭāṇasya ca dhōsakān ‖ 93 ‖
anēnaiva prakārēṇa vipacētpākatattvavit |
A batter of ground chickpeas (चणकः chanaka) is prepared first.
The dhosaka are smeared on a hot pan along with oil and cooked thoroughly.
Dhosaka can also be made from urad dal (माषः māsha 'Vigna mungo (KTA)'), red beans (राजमाष rājmāsha 'Phaseolus vulgaris, earlier perhaps Vigna mungo (KTA)'), or dried peas (वट्टाण vatāna cf. Guj. વટાણા vaṭāṇā).
True cooking should cook in this same way.
आम्लीभूतं माषपिष्टं वटिकासु विनिक्षिपेत् ।
वस्त्रगर्भाभिरन्याभिः पिधाय परिपाचयेत् ॥९९॥
आव्तार्यात्र मरिचं चूर्णितं विकिरेदनु ।
घृताक्ता हिङ्गुसर्पिभ्यां जीरकेण च धूपयेत् ॥१००॥
सुशीता धवला (ः) श्लक्ष्णा एता इडरिका वराः ।
āmlībhūtaṁ māṣapiṣṭaṁ vaṭikāsu vinikṣipēt |
vastragarbhābhiranyābhiḥ pidhāya paripācayēt ‖ 99 ‖
āvtāryātra maricaṁ cūrṇitaṁ vikirēdanu |
ghr̥tāktā hiṅgusarpibhyāṁ jīrakēṇa ca dhūpayēt ‖ 100 ‖
suśītā dhavalā (ḥ) ślakṣṇā ētā iḍarikā varāḥ |
Form the fermented ground urad dal into cakes (वटिका vatikā).
Cover with a cloth and cook.
Sprinkle with crushed black pepper (मरिचः maricha).
Make fragrant with ghee, asafetida (हिङ्गु hingu), and cumin (जीरकः jīraka).
The idli (इड्डरिका iddarikā) will be cooling, white, and soft.

(See also Peppertrail for translations.) If I understand āmlībhūtaṁ 'become acidic', could that imply fermentation? Also could the cover aid steaming? There is definitely no sign of rice yet.

The Saundara Vilāsa (ಸೌಂದರ ವಿಲಾಸ), a poetic work of about 1600, includes among the wares of a ಮಿಠಾಯಿಯಂಗಡಿ miṭhāyiyaṅgaḍi 'sweets shop', ಹಿಮಕರನಂತೆ ರಾಜಿಸುವ ಇಡ್ಡಲಿಗೆ himakaranante rājisuva iḍḍalige 'idli shining like the moon' (in Wikisource; the Internet Archive has several scans, but they all have OCR problems). Achays's other such comparison, from 1485, is less straightforward. It is from ಸನತ್ಕುಮಾರ ಚರಿತೆ Sanatkumara Charithe by Bommarasa, a Jain Vijayanagara poet. Note that the note number for this is accidentally printed 2k instead of 2h, which would make it be the 1584 ಚನ್ನಬಸವ ಪುರಾಣ Cannabasava Purāṇa. This typo leads to this misattribution in a conference paper. As to the verse in question,

ಬಟ್ಟವೆಱೆಯೊ ಮಂಜಿನೊಬ್ಬುಳಿ
ಬಟ್ಟಿತಾದುದೊ ಅಮೃತರಸವಳ
ವಟ್ಟು ವೃತ್ತದ ಪಿಂಡವಾದುದೊ ಚಂದ್ರಿಕೆಯೆ ಬಂದು
ಘಟ್ಟಿಗೊಂಡಿತೊ ಎನಲು ನೋಳ್ಪರ
ದಿಟ್ಟಿಗೊಲವನು ಮನಕೆ ಹರುಷವ
ಪುಟ್ಟೆಪುದ್ದಿನ ಕಡುಬ ಸವಿದರು ನೃಪರು ಮನನಲಿಯೆ
baṭṭaveṟeyo mañjinobbuḷi
baṭṭitādudo amr̥tarasavaḷa
vaṭṭu vr̥ttada piṇḍavādudo candrikeye bandu
ghaṭṭigoṇḍito enalu nōḷpara
diṭṭigolavanu manake haruṣava
puṭṭepuddina kaḍuba savidaru nr̥paru mananaliye
The Kings are relishing the kadubu made of black gram: it looked like a full moon; like a mass of mist set together; as if heavenly nectar had solidified into circles; or as if a drop of moonlight had hardened. The kadubu was attractive to the eye and pleasing to the mind. (tr. Achaya)

Kadubu is explained in the glossary as 'steamed slab of fermented rice-pulse'. Kotte kadubu or kadubu idli are ones steamed / served in jackfruit leaves. There are other kinds with fillings like coconut or lentils, but I suppose they don't come out moon-shaped.

Achaya glosses kedli as '(Indonesia): steamed rice-pulse patty'. An endnote credits at least the idea that Indonesian cooks brought fermentation suitable for idli to India, and perhaps that further name of a specific source dish (I cannot tell), to C. R. Krishna Murti personal communication, March 1985. I am pretty sure that this CKR, another chemist, is intended. The first question is whether it is even necessary to find a source for natural fermentation. As pointed out by Feasts and Fasts: A History of Food in India, nearly all cultures have some form of fermentation. Other dishs require yeast or a starter. The advanced fermentation techniques of Indonesia involve growing the mold first and then innoculating the legumes. But the microflora for idli are already present on the urad dal. Even for experimental variations using other grains, such as soyidli, there are enough. Idli batter can be used as a starter for a new batch, or buttermilk or water from yogurt, or even yeast added, but that is not the traditional recipe. If South India needed to learn how to ferment idli, then wouldn't Gujarat have needed it for dhoklā (ઢોકળાં)? The fermentation process is not very different, just with chickpeas. Next, as far as I can make out, no one who has looked has been able to identify kedli with an Indonesian dish, ideally a cereal cake leavened by fermented legumes. The best explanation seems to be that it is a misunderstanding of kedelai, the Indonesian name for 'soybean', from Tamil கடலை kaṭalai 'chickpea' (but now usually 'peanut', following a common pattern where a New World food starts out with a qualified name for an existing one and then takes over that name unqualified as well). Soybeans are fermented into tempeh. The Soyinfo Center books related to tempeh have a good summary of a comprehensive but hard to find book on its history. By default, tempeh is made from soybeans, but there are other varieties, and, when it is necessary to disambiguate, the full name is tempe kedelai 'soy tempeh', versus tempe gembus 'okara tempeh' or any of the others listed in Appendix C in the Professional Edition of The Book of Tempeh and summarized here. Wilkinson's Malay Dictionary does have Phaseolus vigna, the former classification of black gram, for کدلي kĕdĕlai. I do not know whether he is mistaken or it could mean that instead of or in addition to 'soybean' then or there, though either way it does not seem to really help for Indonesian idli.

The Great Tang Records on the Western Regions (大唐西域記 Dà Táng Xīyù Jì) has Xuanzang's (玄奘) report about steaming.

Suī fǔ huò sī yòng. Ér chuī zèng mò zhī.
While they use kettles and woks, they do not know cooking with a steamer.

Of course, steaming is still possible without special vessels, using cloth or banana leaves.

Many of Achaya's references are in [Old] Kannada. This is not altogether inappropriate: the case for Karnataka as the source of these dishes is pretty good. And even for their restaurant forms to have originated with restauranteurs from Udupi, spreading first to other Indian urban centers, and then to the world. Most of Kannada passages can evidently be found in the appendix to a 1969 edition of Sūpaśāstra. Another source is a pair of short papers in Indian Linguistics, one by P. K. Gode in 1955 and another by H. G. Narahari in 1957.

There are also similar references from not too much later in other languages. For instance, the Marathi dictionary Śabdakōśa, included in the DDSA, s.v. इडरी, इडली iḍarī, iḍalī, has a quotation from R̥ddhipuravarṇana, where idli is again compared to the moon. (snippet; scanned without OCR)

पूर्ण चंद्राचा अनुकारी : चोखाळपणें भजिजे इडरीं :
pūrṇa candrācā anukārī : cōkhāḷapaṇēm bhajijē iḍarīm :
resembling the full moon: purely revered idli

Another Sanskrit source, besides Mānasōllāsa above, is Sri Ramanuja Campu, a life of Ramanuja in mixed prose and verse. It contains a poetic description of both idli and dosa (3.29).

अभ्यागम्य पदे पदे सविनयं संप्रार्थितो गेहिभिः
दोशामण्डलमिन्दुबिम्बधवलं सद्योघृतेनाप्लुतं
भक्तं स्वर्णसवर्णसूपसहितं सामोदमास्वादयन् ॥ २९ ॥
abhyāgamya padē padē savinayaṁ saṁprārthitō gēhibhiḥ
śuṇṭhījīrakarāmaṭhādisurabhīrgaṇḍākr̥tīriḍḍalīḥ |
dōśāmaṇḍalamindubimbadhavalaṁ sadyōghr̥tēnāplutaṁ
bhaktaṁ svarṇasavarṇasūpasahitaṁ sāmōdamāsvādayan ‖ 29 ‖
He approaches step-by-step and modestly greets the householders
The round-shaped idli is fragrant with ginger, cumin, and asafetida
The circle of the dosa, resembling the white disc of the moon, is instantly bathed in ghee
Served together with gold-colored soup, it is delicious eating

शुण्ठी śuṇṭhī 'dried', specifically, 'dried ginger' has been subtituted for शोणी śōṇī 'red' here, following the note at the end. This seems more suited to the context and follows everyone that quotes this passage.

Here it is dosa that is compared to the moon, which would seem to imply some other form than we get in restaurants. Of course, with food history, there are cases where something similar used to have a different name, or a name used to be applied to a something somewhat different.

Keeping that in mind, for earlier dosa, Achaya writes, in the same Snacks of the South box in the Regional Cuisines chapter, that tōsai (dōsai) is “noted” in Tamil Sangam literature. The endnote for this sentence references the Food section of P. T. Srinivasa Iyengar's Pre-Aryan Tamil Culture. This does not seem to mention tōsai by name, though. It does have a list of cakes, including appam (அப்பம்) and melladai (மெல்லடை), that is, மெல் mel 'soft' + அடை aṭai 'wafer'. Achaya glosses adai as 'fried pulse snack'. Elsewhere, Achaya says that in Chōlā times, pan-fried snacks were dōsai and adai, both based on rice. The endnote for this points here, which says that āppam rice cake soaked in milk was a luxury. Achaya goes on to explain adai as a mix of rice and no less than four pulses ground together. Back in the Southern Snack box, the next paragraph says that circular āppam was mentioned in Perumpānūru, along with idi-āppam, and that these remain unchanged today. (Idiyappam was included above in one of Chattarji's nonsense poems.) No specific reference is given. But in the previous chapter, in a section on professional cooking, he refers to, “… kaazhiyar and kuuviyar, vendors of snacks like āppam, idi-āppam, adai, …” with an endnote giving three actual Sangam citations.

  1. Silappaddikāram, Chapter 5. Line 24 of a street scene: காழியர் கூவியர் கண்ணொடை யாட்டியர் kāḻiyar kūviyar kaṇṇoṭai yāṭṭiyar 'washermen, makers of muffins, wine-sellers' (tr. Dikshitar). The English just has 'washermen' for the first. Even though Achaya's apposition quoted above might be ambiguous, the glossary is not, giving both “kaazhiyar (T): snack vendor,” and “kuuviyar (T): vendor of snacks.” The note for the source text explains, காழியர்‌ - பிட்டுவிற்பார்‌ ; வண்ணாருமாம்‌. கூவியர்‌ - அப்பம்‌ சுடுவார்‌. kāḻiyar - piṭṭuviṟpār ; vaṇṇārumām. kūviyar - appam cuṭuvār. 'kaazhiyar - pittu sellers; Vannar. kuuviyar - appam steamers.' It is not clear to me whether that means that the word has two senses or that pittu-sellers belonged to that particular caste. Dictionaries with just the collective காழியர் kāḻiyar agree on வண்ணார் vaṇṇār 'washermen'; one adds அப்பவாணிகர் appavāṇikar 'cake sellers'. Those that instead have the singular காழியன் kāḻiyaṉ give both senses; the Madras Lexicon has two headwords, with slightly different proposed derivations, washer from क्षाल kṣāl 'washing' via காழ்- kāḻ-, sweets vendor from क्षार kṣāra 'something caustic or salty or sugary'. (Those two Sanskrit roots being generally supposed to be related somehow, I believe.) Pavanar also has two lemmas, but with the identical-looking etymologies from காழ் kāḻ. None of which resolves the question, I don't think. காழியர் kāḻiyar and கூவியர்‌ kūviyar recur together in the next chapter (6.137-8; translation), in a scene where vendors are burning their lamps; for the first, it has, காழியர் மோதகத் தூழுறு விளக்கமும் kāḻiyar mōtakat tūḻuṟu viḷakkamum 'lamps of kaazhiyars scooping-out modaka'; again there is a note, மோதகம்‌ - ஈண்டுப்‌ பிட்டு mōtakam - īṇṭup piṭṭu 'modaka in place of pittu'. (If appams are muffins, what are pittu? Buns?)
  2. Perumpānūru, line 377. காரகற் கூவியர் பாகொடு பிடித்த / இழைசூழ் வட்டம் பால்கலந் தவைபோல் kārakaṟ kūviyar pākoṭu piṭitta / iḻaicūḻ vaṭṭam pālkalan tavaipōl 'These look like rice-cakes placed in milk, prepared in pans with thread-like paste with jelly mixed by those who trade in cakes'. (The English translation does not have parallel line numbering; this starts at 438. Also, this text has been OCRed with tesseract -l san, so for Devanagari, and, as a result, both the Tamil and the Roman are garbage.) This passage is quoted in dictionary entries for அகல் akal, the pot in which the cake is being cooked, and வட்டம் vaṭṭam 'circle', here referring to the cake formed by winding threads (இழை iḻai) of batter into that shape. The image here is of blossoms falling into the water and looking like idiyappam being cooked.
  3. Mathuraikkānchi, lines 624/7. நல்வரி இறாஅல் புரையு மெல்லடை / அயிருருப் புற்ற ஆடமை விசயங் / கவவொடு பிடித்த வகையமை மோதகந் / தீஞ்சேற்றுக் கூவியர் தூங்குவனர் உறங்க nalvari iṟāal puraiyu mellaṭai / ayirurup puṟṟa āṭamai vicayaṅ / kavavoṭu piṭitta vakaiyamai mōtakan / tīñcēṟṟuk kūviyar tūṅkuvaṉar uṟaṅka 'Breadmakers that sold jelly wafers soft that look like striped honeycombs and cakes with coconut sugar sweet and pulse stuffed in and flour with jelly mixed, are now asleep.' (English starting at 688.)

As we see, these early references are circumstantial: they describe sellers of round cakes, some of which might be like dosa. More recent and specialized than Achaya's works is சங்ககாலத் தமிழர் உணவு Caṅkakālat tamil̲ar uṇavu, 'Sangam Tamil Food', which was “free” for Kindle with “points,” although it lacks search. Among these dishes, it seems to just list (p. 198) அப்பம்‌ (இனிப்பு - பெரும்பாண்‌. 377-378) āppam (iṉippu 'dessert' perumpāṇ‌), those same lines as 2 above.

For the word dosa itself, there is சேந்தன் திவாகரம் Cēntaṉ Tivākaram, a Tamil lexicographical work of the 10th century. It is most like what we might call a thesaurus, a kind of work known in Sanskrit as कोश kośa, using the same treasure metaphor. Classes of things are described by words for specific members of the class. See the front matter to the Madras Lexicon, around page xxvi, or Gregory's Colporuḷ: A History of Tamil Dictionaries, which compares it to Ælfric's Glossary. In section 6, பல்‌ பொருள்‌ பெயர்த்‌ தொ pal poruḷ peyart to 'collection of multiple-meaning names', entry 92, அப்ப வர்க்கத்தின் பெயர் appa varkkattin peyar 'cake: sorts of edible names', பேத வகைப் பெயர் pēta vakaip peyar 'sorts of division names', are given: பூரிகம், நொலையல், கஞ்சம், தோசை pūrikam, nolaiyal, kañcam, tōcai.

  • பூரிகம் pūrikam All these dictionaries agree that பூரிகம் - அப்பவருக்கம் pūrikam - appavarukkam 'sort of cake'. The Madras Lexicon specifically cites திவா. Tivā for this. Its < pūrikā and 'Pastry or cake full in appearance but hollow inside' suggest that this is a kind of pūri. Winslow's points to பூரிகை pūrikai 'A kind of unleavened cake'. Achaya's Glossary has an entry for pūrika 'crisp wheat snack', but the page to which it points, discussing the Mānasōllāsa, and so Sanskrit, specifically says, “Pūrika were small fried cakes of gram flour: not the pūri of the present, but the pāpadi.” See Peppertrail again for a translation of that Purika recipe. It seems perhaps two dishes have been confused here.
  • நொலை, நொலையல் nolai, nolaiyal 'Pastry, confectionary' or 'A kind of unleavened cake'. Not the same as நோலை nōlai, a sesame seed confection (note vowel length).
  • கஞ்சம் kañcam 'A kind of pastry'. The referenced Telugu cognate కజ్జము kajjamu is likewise 'A sort of sweet cakes'. But one of the forms in that latter headword, కజ్జికాయలు kajjikāyalu, has lots of online recipes and is included in Wikipedia for Gujia. Apparently not related to கஞ்சி kañci congee. Or, for that matter, to கஞ்சா kañcā < गांजा ganja.
  • தோசை tōcai dosa.

தமிழர் உணவு / Tamil̲ar uṇavu 'Tamil food' by S. Namasivayam points to another source of somewhat later references, writing,

பல கல்வெட்டுக்கள்‌ தோசை அக்காலத்தில்‌ இருந்தமையை சுட்டிக்‌ காட்டுகின்‌ றன.
pala kalveṭṭukkaḷ tōcai akkālattil iruntamaiyai cuṭṭik kāṭṭukiṉ ṟaṉa.
'Many inscriptions indicate the existence of dosa at that time.'

and giving references to a few such. Finding more like that is easy using catalogs now scanned online. For example, search in காஞ்சிபுரம் மாவட்டக் கல்வெட்டுகள் kāñcipuram māvaṭṭak kalveṭṭukaḷ 'Kanchipuram District Inscriptions' for தோசை அரிசி உளுந்து எண்ணை tōcai arici uḷuntu eṇṇai 'dosa rice gram oil'. Narasivayam's observation,

அக்காலக்‌ கல்வெட்டுக்கள்‌ தோசை சய்யும்‌ முறையை நமக்குக்‌ கற்றுத்தந்தன என்று கூறினால்‌ அது மிகையாகாது.
akkālak kalveṭṭukkaḷ tōcai cayyum muṟaiyai namakkuk kaṟṟuttantaṉa eṉṟu kūṟiṉāl atu mikaiyākātu.
'It would not be an exaggeration to say that the inscriptions of that time taught us the method of making dosa.'

probably really is an exaggeration, I'm afraid.

It seems that the English dosa form comes through Tulu or Kannada dose, so from Karnataka. The large crispy form of dosa found in restaurants is generally supposed to originate in Udupi specifically. At the very least, masala dosa must follow the introduction of potatoes (and chili peppers) by the Portuguese.

Looking around the internet, one may encounter an alternate explanation for the early source of idlis. This is that Arab traders brought them to South India when they settled down and married local women, because, being concerned about Muslim dietary restrictions, they found it easiest to just eat rice balls with coconut paste. Various specific authorities are given for this:

  • modern food historians such as Lizzie Collingham, Kristen Gremillion, Raymond Grew, Makhdoom Al-Salaqi (Syria), Zahiruddin Afiyaab (Lebanon)
  • references available at the Al-Azhar University Library in Cairo
  • Encyclopaedia of Food History, edited by Collingham and Gordon Ramsay of Britain, Oxford University Press
  • Seed to Civilisation, The Story of Food, by Heiser Charles B, Harvard University Press, 1990

This very strange. Some of those historians only seem to be associated with food history on pages making this claim. Collinham has indeed written a number of books about Indian food history, as both Lizzie and E. M. Collingham. Topics include food of the British Empire and entertaining at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Her Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors tells just such stories about interactions between cultures, resulting in dishes like Biryani. But here Arab traders teach their Indian wives to make seafood pilaus. And idlis only get passing mention as already-established South Indian rice breads, contrasting for the Portuguese with leavened wheat breads, or as later modern diaspora dishes. (As is common here, Lieut. Richard F. Burton makes a brief appearance, praising the leavened bread in Goa. Later in that same work, he complains of its lack and of the substitute, “unleavened wafers, called aps,” viz., appams.) Moreover, there does not seem to be any encyclopedia of food history from OUP or anyone else. And I doubt Ramsay would be associated with anything other than television. Prof. Heiser's book does exist. His works have focused more on food plants and that one on seed-like ones in particular. It does have chapters on grasses (rice), legumes (dal), and coconut, but that seems to be as close as it gets. I could almost imagine that this whole explanation is an AI hallucination, like if somenoe had asked one where idli come from. It fits the pattern of a detailed answer, plausibly sourced, even if not academically rigorously cited. But the earliest occurrence of this claim I can find it from Feb 2015, just before Idli Day was founded, which seems a little too early for LLMs to have done it. It could be some elaborate trolling. Or it could be legit, no funny epistemology; but the genuine new facts are just hard to find as given. Still, rice balls seem like less of an innovation than fermentation, and it isn't clear how the lack of rice in early idlis is resolved. (If someone understands what is going on, I will, of course, amend this post.)

The OED has a headword for idli, added in 1976 and not revised since, and ones for uthappam and appam added in 2006. It does not have dosa, although that word is used in quotations for uthappam, rice-pancake, chutney, and sambar. The source of uthappam is multiple nearly identical cognates, “Partly < Tamil ūttappam, and partly < Malayalam ūttappam,” and similarly for appam.

I would have thought there would be some casual British mentions of these dishes in the 19th century. Of course, they do appear in dictionaries. The DDSA Kannada ಇಡ್ಡಳಿಗೆ iḍḍaḷige entry listed above is the same as in Kittel's 1894 printed version, and that is, in turn, taken verbatim from Reeve's 1858 “Canarese” dictionary. Rottler's 1834 Tamil dictionary has entries for இட்டலி iṭṭali 'a kind of cake' and தோசை tōcai 'rice-flour pancakes'. Beyond that, there is a mention of appas or hoppers (another almost English word not in the OED) in Ceylon in 1859. And, from 1909, of “cakes, called dosai,” among the Nagarathar caste.

The OED's earliest idli quotation is from the 1958 novel The Guide by R. K. Narayan. Idlis are not surprising as a way to recreate the atmosphere of Malgudi. The two 1972 quotations, cited only as New Yorker are, in fact, both from a short story “Naga,” published there and also by Narayan. Keeping with his work, the earlier (1955) Waiting for Mahatma has “Oh, how long it was since he had eaten anything like idli, those white sensitive things made by his granny on most Sundays.” and “The thought of idli, soft and light, and of dosai, was aluring. It seemed as if he had tasted them in a previous birth.” Before that, the author seems to have avoided foreign names; for example, Mr. Sampath (1949) described eating rice, or rice and curd, or rice and buttermilk. Autobiographically, a passage in My Dateless Diary describes a dinner at the Indian Consulate in New York with an exiled Maharaja.

The dinner was a triumph, establishing once for all that supremacy of tranquilizing qualities of South Indian food—Rasam, Sambhar, Masala Dosai, pickles and so forth. I'm more than ever convinced that the South Indian diet marks the peak in the evolution of culinary art and that the South Indian, however well he may be received, will never feel really at home anywhere in the world unless he can have his spices too within reach. My regard for His Highness went up when I found him uttering little cries of joy at the sight of Sambhar and Dosai. I knew then that the man could do no wrong.

Another place that Narayan's stories appeared was the London-based quarterly Indian Writing, published irregularly from 1940 until ended by the War in 1945, and edited by Ahmed Ali and Iqbal Singh. At least by Ali's telling, those two did all the work and the other nominal editors were either for show, or, in the case of Alagu Subramaniam, not very useful. Nevertheless, the third number (March 1941) published a short story by Subramaniam titled, “The Flood,” containing the following.

Her speciality was a sort of pancake called thosai. Flour, mashed lentils and coconut milk were mixed together to form a liquid paste. Two or three spoonfuls of this were transferred to a griddle and baked. She was famous for these pancakes, and men, women and children went joyfully to her shop.

A 1944 Government planning document for food rationing categorized, “Restaurants, Puri Parotawalla, Idli Dosa shops.”

In 1953, Adlai Stevenson, having lost the Presidential election to Eisenhower, embarked on a world tour of the Middle East and Asia. The June 15, 1953 issue of The New Republic has “Stevenson In India” on the front page with this rather cringeworthy photo and inside a piece titled, “Sir, you are in a Solid Democratic Territory,” starting with a play on the Governor's first name.

“Idli” is the name South Indians give to the steamed rice-powder cake that forms their favorite breakfast dish. And “Idli” was naturally the name they bestowed on their favorite visitor from America. They greeted Stevenson with garlands and he, in turn, split many a fresh coconut with them in the name of One World.
Of the coconuts of Kerala and the dark beauties of matriarchal Malabar even Baudelaire has sung. But it was left to Stevenson to declare:
“My visit to Travancore-Cochin has fulfilled a life-long desire and ambition to see the Malabar coast. Here I found the most luxurious and beautiful fragments of the entire globe, inhabited by a proud industrious and ancient people.”
The only aspect of Stevenson's visit that the proud, industrious and ancient people regretted was its shortness. He passed through Hyderabad on the Deccan plateau on May 7, spent a day in Madras on the East coast, flew over to Trivandrum, near the southern tip of India and was back in Bombay on May 10.

The byline for this piece is “Oliver Pirie,” explained in a note as a pseudonym for the combined separate accounts by the five journalists who followed Stevenson in India. The rest of the article somewhat betrays this, including discussions of politicians and crowds he met, and giving questions and answers from a press conference, which center on what might be expected, such as Korea and the French in Indochina (this was around the time of the Franco-Lao Treaty). There is also repeated reference to Communist challengers to the Indian Congress Party, a theme also taken up by one of the pieces that Stevenson was commissioned to write for Look from his trip, “Will India Turn Communist?

I admit that, seventy years on, the notion that “South India” would immediately suggest to a reporter or editor «À une Malabaraise» does not quite feel right. Though it may be more wholesome than all of Asia suggesting a Red Menace.

There is little certainty in undirected searches in scanned books. Typos are introduced in manually transcribing MARC metadata from the OPAC, or it may be wrong there, or confusing, as in the case of periodicals. OCR results are full of errors, particularly with italics, which would still commonly be used for these new words. Much better is to find something to go after. For example, in 1978, the New York Botanical Garden published a Plant Bibliography specifically for Vegetable Cookery (to introduce vegetarian meals). It refers to a 1973 The Art of South Indian Cooking, which does, indeed, have recipes for dosa and idli.

Back in the present, when making our own dosas, we sometimes use an obvious local filling, avocado. Although California restaurants don't seem to make this, it does seem to be a real thing elsewhere, as ಬೆಣ್ಣೆಹಣ್ಣಿನ beṇṇehaṇṇina 'butter fruit'. (Alternatively, the phonetic ಆವಕಾಡೊ āvakāḍo.) There are also recipes that call for mixing it into the batter itself, which we haven't tried. Achaya has a paragraph on avocado / butternut in the New World to India section, but does not mention any particular culinary uses there or include it in the Glossary. Ever the oilseed chemist, he mostly promotes unsaturated fats in the Indian diet, as in another paper giving an evaluation of the vegetarian diet. Though, since his works are informationally quite dense, any attempt at summary risks distortion, in a blog post or in a newpaper article.

Friday, February 9, 2024

Notus un Protus

An earlier post here catalogued some nineteenth century brand-name meat substitutes. A number of these were produced by John Harvey Kellogg, of breakfast food fame. The earliest and best-selling were nuttose (1896) and protose (1899). By the first decades of the twentieth century, cans of these were being shipped from Battle Creek across the continent. So that, in 1912, the company petitioned the Interstate Commerce Commission to have their meat substitute receive the same favorable (20% lower than third class) rate that canned meat did. The petition, Kellogg Food Company v. Grand Trunk Railway Company of Canada et al. (26 ICC 611) was dismissed. When first launched, nuttose and protose were both mainly ground peanuts, with some cereal (flour) added for consistency. But, by that time, protose was primarly wheat gluten plus peanuts for consistency and oiliness. It is not clear when the change to protose took place; the Soyinfo Center, mentioned in that earlier seitan post, has a meat alternatives book with an extensive bibliography covering this history. Patenting a recipe is tricky, as the invention must be novel and unobvious. But in 1899, Kellogg applied for one for the gluten and nuts combination and was granted US670,283 in 1901. So this may be a factor. (An interesting post last year by a patent attorney on recent meat substitutes suggests that that patent applied for nuttose and that protose was the 1906 US869,371, which added casein, making the recipe no longer vegan. I am not sure that is true, but, as noted, the formulation did change. There are more follow-on patents, such as 1908 US1,001,150, which adds yeast.)

So that, in 1904, Rupert Hughes, who was from the Midwest and had lived on London, could write in his The Real New York, in the “Where to Eat” chapter, of vegetarian restaurants there.

London has long had vegetarian restaurants. They are just coming in here, under bland and ladylike titles, such as “The White Rose” or “The Laurel.” But even for those who do not believe in limiting themselves to a single mania it is worth while dropping in at these places on occasion to give the stomach a rest from the meat-chopping wear and tear. The prices at these restaurants are very low; hence they have not interested the general public, which likes to pay for novelties. The vegetarians get up various amusing fooleries in imitation of steaks, cutlets, filets and ducks; they call them “true meats” and get their black effects with nuttose and protose and other “ oses.” Even the coffee is made out of blistered peanuts — or at least so it tastes. But the vegetables are amazingly well cooked, and have quite a new taste when there are no meats to distract the palate. And they do wonderful things with fresh mushrooms and nuts. Sometimes they serve a black cream of mushrooms that is worthy of a plutocrat.

That earlier meat substitutes post quoted Chesterton's 1909 refusal of all the nut- foods, including nuttose. Punch, for whom vegetarians were always an easy target, once mentioned protose by name.

Read More

Google Books search offers a tantalizing snippet for “meatless mockeries” in The American Mercury of 1950, indicting protose and nuttose specifically. Using the usual snippet view tricks, it is possible to reconstruct it and so save a trip over to the Main Library to have them get this seventy-five year old volume, still held captive by copyright, sent down from storage up North. This shows that rather than being another amusing anti-vegetarian screed, it's Symon Gould and Dr. Shelton making “The Case for Natural Hygiene,” as explained here, advocating for a healthier version, which seems timely now that so many restaurants have gone to Beyond versions of meat dishes as their nod toward vegetarian customers.

While no hygienist would assert that man cannot live on flesh alone (witness, the short-lived Eskimo), he also knows that man is consitutionally frugivorous and that fruits and vegetables are his best fare. Therefore, the system of natural hygiene cmploys a fruit and vegetable diet, it does not follow that the average vegetarian in this country — who is rarely a hygienist — is aware of the scientific aspects of this diet. He is most often influenced by the ethical creed of his faith, and he has no scruples against using white sugar, salt, white bread, condiments of various kinds, and excessive quanities of carbohydrates. Some vegetarians are even addicted to smoking, but all such habits are excluded from the regimen of the true natural hygienist. Again, the “vegetarian” theory of nutrition is primarily concerned with abstinence from flesh, fish or fowl; it does not consider the proper balancing and combinations of foods and it consistently ignores the hygienist stricture against overeating, since many vegetarians believe that they must make up for the seeming lack of proteins in their diet by eating large quantities of cereals and legumes. They also indulge in meat-substitutes and such meatless mockeries as “protose steak,” “mock hamburger,” “nuttose veal cutlets” and other grain, peanut and soybean concentrates, which they boil or fry and serve with gravy to simulate the flesh they seem to regret having abandoned. Finally, they tend to bypass natural healing by seeking the services of a medical practitioner whenever they develop an ailment.

In 1919, a collection of stories by ⁧משה נאדיר⁩ Moyshe Nadir was published, including one (joke, if you like) titled ⁧„נאָטוס און פּראָטוס“⁩ Notus un Protus 'Nuttose and Protose'. An English translation by Nathan Ausubel appears in A Treasury of Jewish Humor. The narrator tells how they met ⁧א בחור מיט לאנגע האָר, א בעהעלפעריש בערדיל און מיט לײַװענטענע הױזען⁩ a bokher mit lange hor, a behelferish berdil un mit layventene hoyzen 'a young man with long hair, an assistant's (helperish) beard and with canvas (linen) pants' who asked whether they ate meat, accused them of being a cannibal, and sold them some vegetarian pamphlets. So that they ended up in a vegetarian restaurant being served by ⁧א בלײכער הוסטענדיגער הױךּ-אױפגעשפּראָצטער װעיטער, װאָס האָט אױסגעזעהן װי אַ מיטעליעהריגע ציבעלע⁩ a bleykher hustendiger hoykh-oyfgeshprotster veyter, vos hot oysgezehn vi a mitelyehrige tsibele 'a pale coughing skinny (tall-out-sprouter) waiter, who looked like a middle-aged scallion'. Each course is available made either from nuttose or from protose. But what arrives is consistently nondescript. Moreover, the waiter's recommendations get increasing elaborate trying to balance the relative merits of the two. Which is why the narrator is in prison charged with murder.

The name of the establishment is ⁧װערים־קרויט׳ס װעגעטארישען רעסטאָראנט⁩ verim-kroyt's vegetarishen restorant. Ausubel leaves this untranslated as “Verimkroit's Vegetarian Restaurant.” Harvey Fink, in That is how it is has “Cabbageworm's.” ⁧װערים־קרויט׳ס⁩ verim-kroyt 'worm cabbage', like Standard German Wurmkraut, refers to herbal remedies like tansy or Artemisia species with English names like wormwood or wormseed. None of which will have the unsavory implications of the original name.

Ben Katchor's The Dairy Restaurant (noted on LanguageHat a couple years ago), with an associated website, pictures this world in words and illustrations and inventories dairy and Jewish vegetarian restaurants of that time, particularly in New York City. It, too, summarizes Nadir's short story.

Many Yiddish periodicals and booklets from that time and place have been digitized. When they have been OCRed, it is usually good enough to find something, but not accurate enough to take as is. There are also dialectical variations and different translitertion choices into Yiddish. Nadir chose ⁧פּראָטוס⁩ protus, but ⁧פּראָטאָס⁩ protos would be perhaps closer. That is what was chosen for an ad by The Battle Creek Food Company in ⁧געזונט און שפייז⁩ Gezunt un shpayz 'Health and Food' for ⁧פּראָטאָס⁩ protos 'Protose' and ⁧סאַװיטא⁩ savita 'Savita' (paste with nutritional yeast for gravies and soups). This other form is particularly tricky to search for because it finds many false positives in transliterating proto- compounds or in explaining Greek πρῶτος.

An interesting one of these ⁧פּראָטאָס⁩ protos matches is the following.

ענדלעך איז די קניה געשלאָסן געװאָרן. זײ האָבּן אײנגעקױפט פערד, רײז, געטרוקנט פלײש אוּן לעדערנע לאָגלען אױף װאַסער.
װען זײ זעגען צוריקגעקוּמען אין לאַגער אַרײן, האָט מען אָפּגעקאָכט אַ גוּט נאַכטעסן, װײל ס'איז שױן געװען אַרוּם אָװנטצוּ.
ראָבּערטן איז שױן געװען א סך בּעסער. טהאַלקאַװע האָט אים אָפּגעקאָכט אַזאַ מין סאָרט אַרבּעס, אָדער װי ער האָט זײ אָנגערוּפן : „פּראָטאָס“ אוּן דאָס האָט אים געדאַרפט צוּגעבּן פרישע כּוחות.
צוּפרידענע, זאַטע אוּן גליקלעכע פוּן די הײנטיקע איבּערלעבּענישן, זענען אַלע געגאַנגען שלאָפן.
endlekh iz di knih geshlosn gevorn. zey hobn eyngekoyft ferd, reyz, getruknt fleysh un lederne loglen af vaser.
ven zey zegen tsurikgekumen in lager areyn, hot men opgekokht a gut nakhtesn, veyl s'iz shoyn geven arum ovnttsu.
robertn iz shoyn geven a skh beser. thalkave hot im opgekokht aza min sort arbes, oder vi er hot zey ongerufn : "protos" un dos hot im gedarft tsugebn frishe koykhes.
tsufridene, zate un gliklekhe fun di heyntike iberlebenishn, zenen ale gegangen shlofn.
Finally, the purchase was closed. They bought horses, rice, dried meat and leather flasks for water.
When they returned to the camp, they cooked a good dinner, because it was already around evening.
Robert was already much better. Thalcave cooked him this kind of peas, or as he called them: “protos” and that gave him fresh strength.
Satisfied, full and happy from today's experiences, everyone went to sleep.

This is from p. 104 of ⁧די קינדער פוּן קאַפּיטאַן גראַנט⁩ di kinder fun kapitan grant 'The Children of Captain Grant', a translation of Les Enfants du capitaine Grant / In Search of the Castaways. The word seems straightforward to explain in context. The title of this chapter in French is «L'espagnol de Jacques Paganel» and much of it is taken up by Paganel trying to communicate with the Patagonian, in what he believes to be Spanish and supposing there to be some sort of dialect / pronunciation problem. But then it turns out that Paganel has been carrying around Camões's Os Lusíadas and so teaching himself Portuguese. The reader will have already suspected something, since Paganel's attempts quoted earlier in the chapter are recognizably Portuguese while Thalcave's responses are Spanish. Thalcave is an Araucanian (Mapuche) and his name means «Le Tonnant» / “The Thunderer”, which checks out as tralkafe, with a different transcription scheme for the retroflex affricate. South American Spanish has poroto for some kinds of beans, from the Quechua purutu. Porotos granados is one of those traditionally already-vegan world dishes. So it makes sense for Thalcave to call what he fed Robert that. … Except, I cannot find anywhere where Jules Verne wrote anything like this. Granted, none of these are meant to be literal translations; the chapters don't even line up exactly. But one would think the introduction of such a foreign word easy to find. But I can't in the French or the English or the German or the Polish (The Yiddish translation was published in Warsaw — Mad readers will be, of course, sensitized to the perfectly ordinary niepotrzebne 'unnecessary' there.) or the Russian translations. I admit that I am reluctant to believe that the Yiddish translator invented this detail, but perhaps someone who knows more about it or about Verne's work will be able to explain.

Getting back on track, one can find incidental references to vegetarian restaurants, sometimes even in English in an otherwise Yiddish work. For example, the inside cover of ⁧ראבינדראנאטה טאַגאָר⁩ Rabindranath Tagore: a study and an appreciation invites the reader to contact the author.

M. I. Littauer
c. o. Tolstoyan Vegetarian Restaurant
55 Second Ave., N. Y. C.

As expected, this booklet has a section on Tagore's vegetarianism.

זעלבסטפערשטענדליך, אז טאַגאָר איז אויך א וועגעטאריער. עס ווערט דערמאנט פון זיין פריינד באַסאַנאַטאַ קומאַר ראָי אז טאַגאָר און די קינדער פון זיין שול שפּייזען זיך אויף א וועגעטארישען דיעט. אין איינעם פון זיינע ביכער דערמאָנטער מיט שטאלץ דעם וועגעטאַריזם, וואָס זיין פאָלק פּראקטיצירט שוין פון טויזענדער יאָהרען. „געקאָכטע רייז, קארטאָפעל, בלומען־קרויט אָדער בעבלאך און גענוג פּוטער איז אלץ וואס ער פערלאַנגט צום עסען“ — זאָגט זיין פריינד ראָי.
zelbstfershtendlikh, az tagor iz oykh a vegetaryer. es vert dermant fun zeyn freynd basanata kumar roy az tagor un di kinder fun zeyn shul shpeyzen zikh af a vegetarishen dyet. in eynem fun zeyne bikher dermonter mit shtalts dem vegetarizm, vos zeyn folk praktitsirt shoyn fun toyzender yohren. "gekokhte reyz, kartofel, blumen-kroyt oder beblakh un genug puter iz alts vas er ferlangt tsum esen" - zogt zeyn freynd roy.
It goes without saying, that Tagore is also a vegetarian. It is mentioned by his friend Basanata Koomar Roy that Tagore and the children of his school eat a vegetarian diet. In one of his books, he proudly mentions vegetarianism, which his people have been practicing for thousands of years. "Boiled rice, potatoes, cauliflower or beans and enough butter is all he wants to eat," says his friend Roy.

I believe that there was a printing error and have corrected ⁧בלומען, קרויט⁩ blumen, kroyt 'flowers, cabbage' to ⁧בלומען־קרויט⁩ blumen-kroyt 'cauliflower', since that is what Roy wrote in English. I imagine there must be other German dialects besides Yiddish in which 'cauliflower' is Blumenkraut instead of Blumenkohl, but I haven't been able to find reference to that. Cabbage is an colonial import to Bengal, arriving with the Portuguese, like potatoes, tomatoes, and chili peppers. Bengali কপি kôpi, along with Hindi गोभी gōbhī and other nearby words, 'cabbage' is from Portuguese couve. Cauliflower, which is the same species as cabbage, was first introduced to India as a plant in 1822 by a Dr. Jemson from Kew (see here). কপি kôpi became 'cauliflower' as well; the Hindi or Punjabi cognate is usually spelled gobi in restaurants here; when it is necessary to disambiguate, it is ফুলকপি phulôkôpi 'flower-', just as in English, German, French, Portuguese, and so on. Furthermore, in 1911, for Tagore's 50th birthday, a special কবিসংবর্ধনা kôbisômbôrdhônā 'poet tribute' was presented in the form of a cauliflower barfi dessert. One can find the recipe by searching for the Bengali or the informal transliteration, kabisambardhna. I assume the কপি kôpi 'cauliflower' / কবি kôbi 'poet' pun is no accident.

It is not a foregone conclusion that Tagore would be a vegetarian, thousands of years notwithstanding. Brahmo culture was not, as a rule. In 1921, a few years after his 1913 Nobel Prize, but too late for Littauer (1917), a collection of his letters from 1885-1895 was published as Glimpses of Bengal. In there, in one dated 22nd March 1894 (aet. 32), we can read about the incident with a domestic fowl destined for the table that prompted him to choose a vegetarian diet. The start of the last sentence of the Bengali original seems to me to suggest that this was not the first time.

আরও একবার নিরামিষ খাওয়া ধরে দেখব ।
ārôō ēkôbār nirāmiṣ khāōẏā dhôrē dēkhôb.
One more time I will try to eat vegetarian.
I have decided to try a vegetarian diet. (tr. Glimpses)

Tagore wrote some biting satire as a young man. One that is somewhat relevant here is দয়ালু মাংসাশী dôẏālu māṅgsāśī 'Kind Carnivore', for which I cannot seem to find an English translation. Here are a few choice sentences.

বাঙ্গালীদের মাংস খাওয়ার পক্ষে অনেকগুলি যুক্তি আছে, তাহা আলোচিত হওয়া আবশ্যক। মার বিশ্বজনীন প্রেম, সকলের প্রতি দয়া এত প্রবল যে, আমি মাংস খাওয়া কর্ত্তব্য কাজ মনে করি।
bāṅggālīdēr māṅgs khāōẏār pôkṣē ônēkôguli jukti āchē, tāhā ālōcit hôōẏā ābôśjôk. āmār biśbôjônīn prēm, sôkôlēr prôti dôẏā ēt prôbôl jē, āmi māṅgs khāōẏā kôrttôbjô kāj mônē kôri.
There are many arguments in favor of Bengalis eating meat that need to be discussed. My universal love, kindness to all is so strong, that I consider it a duty to eat meat.

বিখ্যাত ইংরাজ কবি বলিয়াছেন যে, আমরা বোকা জানোয়ারের মাংস খাই, যেমন ছাগল, ভেড়া, গরু। অধিক উদাহরণের আবশ্যক নাই — মুসলমানেরা আমাদের খাইয়াছেন, ইংরাজেরা আমাদের খাইতেছেন।
bikhjāt iṅgrāj kôbi bôliẏāchēn jē, āmôrā bōkā jānōẏārēr māṅgs khāi, jēmôn chāgôl, bhēṛā, gôru. ôdhik udāhôrôṇēr ābôśjôk nāi — musôlômānērā āmādēr khāiẏāchēn, iṅgrājērā āmādēr khāitēchēn.
The famous English poet said that we eat the meat of foolish animals, such as goats, sheep, cattle. More examples are not necessary — the Muslims were eating us, the British are eating us.

To be absolutely clear, this isn't really about diet at all, but British (and earlier Mughal) imperialism.

Moses Littauer later featured in an Esquire piece in June 1939 on the New York Vegetarian Society, whose Thanksgiving feast included nuttose salad and mushrooms with protose. It traces the society's initial membership from:

Theosophists, Rosicrucians, Naturopaths, Anti-Vivisectionists, the Millennium Guild, the Jewish, Spanish and Communist Vegetarian Societies and kindred groups

More Yiddish vegetarian restaurants can be found in ads in periodicals. Some of these are health related, of course. But even more interesting (to me) are those in the radical newspapers that were also part of this environment. For example, here is the column of restaurant ads from the 19 Nov 1929 ⁧מארגן פרייהייט⁩ Morgen Freiheit.

  • ⁧רעסטאָראַנען⁩ restoranen 'Restaurants'
  • ⁧יוניטי קאָאָפּעראטיװער רעסטאָראן⁩ iuniti kooperativer restoran 'Unity Cooperative Restaurant'
  • ⁧העלט פוד װעגעטאַרישער רעסטאָראַנט⁩ helt fud vegetarisher restorant 'Health Food Vegetarian Restaurant'
  • ⁧חברים, עסט אין א—ס—ת—ר׳—ס סײענטיפיק װעגעטאַרישן רעסטאָראנט⁩ khbrim, est in astr's seyentifik vegetarishn restorant 'Comrades, Eat at Esther's Scientific Vegetarian Restaurant'
  • ⁧חברים עסט אין טאָמאַס גיטמאַן רעסטאָראן, און לאָנטש־רום⁩ khbrim est in tomas gitman restoran, un lontsh-rum 'Comrades Eat at Thomas Gitman Restaurant, and Lunch Room'
  • ⁧ראציאנאלײר װעגעטארישער רעסטאראן⁩ ratsyanaleyr vegetarisher restaran 'Rational Vegetarian Restaurant'
  • ⁧חברים טרעפן זיך אין באָרדענ׳ס דעירי לאָנטשאָנעט⁩ khbrim trefn zikh in borden's deiri lontshonet 'Comrades Meet at Borden's Dairy Luncheonette'
  • ⁧טרעפט אײערע פרײנט אין מעסינגער׳ס װעגעטארישער רעסטאָראן⁩ treft eyere freynt in mesinger's vegetarisher restoran 'Meet Your Friends at Messinger's Vegetarian Restaurant'
  • ⁧איר וועט אַלעמאָל טרעפן חברים און פרײהײט-לעזער אין בראונשטײנ׳ס װעגעטאַרישער רעסטאָראַנט⁩ ir vet alemol trefn khbrim un freyheyt-lezer in braunshteyn's vegetarisher restorant 'You will always find comrades and⁩ Freiheit readers at Braunstein's Vegetarian Restaurant'
  • ⁧חבה סאָלין׳ס רעסטאראן בּאנהעטן און הוליאנקעס⁩ khbh solin's restoran banhetn un hulyankes 'Chava Sollin's Restaurant Banquets and Parties'
  • ⁧נעשמאַק,ע פרישע שפּײן הברישע אטמאָספערע אין דזשײקאָב קעטץ פּריװאטע דײנינג רום⁩ neshmak,e frishe shpeyn hbr'she atmosfere in jeykob ketts private deyning rum 'Delicious Fresh Spanish Hebrew Atmosphere in Jacob Ketts Private Dining Room'
  • ⁧בוירד פּריוואטע רעסטאָראנט ט. שענקמאן, פּראָפּ. הײמישע מאכלים⁩ boyrd private restorant t. shenkman, prop. heymishe makhlim 'Byrd Private Restaurant T. Shenkman, Prop. Homemade Dishes'
  • (⁧אַלע חברים זאָלן פיקםן ןײערע ראַדיאָס בײ מאַקס פרעי א ספּעציאליסט אין ראַדיאָס פון אלע סאָרטן⁩ ale khbrim zoln fikmn neyere radyos bey max frei a spetsyalist in radyos fun ale sortn 'All comrades should buy new radios at Max Frei, a specialist in radios of all kinds')
  • (⁧דזשאָזעף העלפאַנד דזשענעאל ביזנעס בראַקער⁩ jozef helfand jeneal biznes braker 'Joseph Helfand General Business Broker')
  • (⁧פארזיכערט ד. אשינסקי⁩ farzikhert d. ashinski 'Insurance D. Ashinsky')

⁧נאָטוס און פּראָטוס⁩ Notus un Protus was included in later collections of Nadir's stories, such as in 1927 and 1928. That latter includes another story poking fun at the political environment of the Lower East Side then.

דער אַנאַרכיסט
מײן נאָמען איז הערמאן זילבער. איך בין פינף-און-דרײסיג יאָהר אלט, טראָג נישט קײן לאנגע האָר, בין פון מיטעלען ּװאוקס, טראָג נישט קײן װינדזאָר-קראװאט און פונדעסטװעגען בין איךּ אן אנארכיסט.
der anarkhist
meyn nomen iz herman zilber. ikh bin finf-un-dreysig yohr alt, trog nisht keyn lange hor, bin fun mitelen vuks, trog nisht keyn vindzor-kravat un fundestvegen bin ikh an anarkhist.
The anarchist
My name is Herman Silver. I am thirty-five years old, do not wear long hair, am of medium height, do not wear a Windsor tie and nevertheless I am an anarchist.

The absent neckwear would have been reminiscent of Hugo Kalmar in The Iceman Cometh.

Even his flowing Windsor tie is neatly tied. There is a foreign atmosphere about him, the stamp of an alien radical, a strong resemblance to the type Anarchist as portrayed, bomb in hand, in newspaper cartoons.

The real world model for Hugo was Hippolyte Havel, who had edited the Chicagoer Arbeiter Zeitung. This has been digitized, but not OCRed for search. A spot-check finds breweries and wurst, but it is perhaps a bit early for vegetarian restaurant ads.

Nadir's gag is the same as the cartoon by Gerhard Seyfried (who is still at it) on the first page of the first issue of Anarchy Comics in the late '70s, mocking the cartoons that O'Neill had in mind.

Naturally, there were vegetarian anarchists. Bartolomeo Vanzetti was a vegetarian some of the time, “most of the time,” as portrayed in Boston by Upton Sinclair, who was himself a vegetarian some of the time. A Fragment of the Prison Experiences of Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman describes the especially bad treatment of the vegetarians Morris Becker, arrested in 1917 along with Goldman at a peace rally and convicted of obstructing the draft for World War I (Wikipedia's anniversaries amusingly mixes up Louis Kramer, also arrested there, with a baseball exec), and Nicholas Zogg, arrested for sending arms to the PLM but also convicted just of obstructing the draft. Anarchist Voices includes reminiscences of the Stelton Modern and Stony Ford Schools. Eva Bein recalled,

Another thing is that we didn't eat any meat, and I remained a vegetarian until eighteen. We ate Protose and Notose [sic] in cans — mostly nuts, beans, and the like — and all sorts of Kellogg's cereals, which they would buy at Macy's and have shipped to Stony Ford, and bread without yeast.

Dora Keyser described running a vegetarian restaurant around 1920 on 103rd St; she remained an active anarchist and vegetarian her whole life. Vegetarian restaurants were also a meeting place for radicals on the West Coast. In her autobiography, Tomorrow is Beautiful, the Ukraine-born activist Lucy Robins Lang related how Jack London, who was vegetarian at the time, persuaded her and her husband, Bob Robins, to open a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. It was at 418 Market St. and named the St. Helena Vegetarian Cafe. Bohemians as well as radicals congregated there until it burned down. A difference from East Coast society is suggested by their running an ad in the Blue Book.

The most important Yiddish-language anarchist newspaper in America was ⁧פרייע אַרבעטער שטימע⁩ Fraye Arbeter Shtime 'Free Voice of Labor'. There is a documentary about it on the usual streaming services or DVD from the public library. Now, it might be unseemly for vegetarian restaurants to compete for anti-capitalist reader-diners. So six (later seven) of them appear to have regularly run a cooperative ad.

אַן ענטפער פון די וועגעטאַרישע רעסטאָראַנען
an entfer fun di vegetarishe restoranen
An answer from the vegetarian restaurants
מיר די אונטערצייכענטע וועגעטאַרישע רעסטאָראַנען קיפּערס ערקלעהרען דאָ און בעווייזען פאַקטיש, אַז די רעעלסטע און אַנשטענדיגסטע ביזנעס מעטאָדען ווערען אָנגעווענדעט אין אונזערע רעסטאָראַנען.
mir di untertseykhente vegetarishe restoranen kipers erklehren do un beveyzen faktish, az di reelste un anshtendigste biznes metoden veren ongevendet in unzere restoranen.
We the undersigned vegetarian restaurant keepers, explain here and prove actually that the most real and decent business methods are used in our restaurants.
אַז מיר יאָגען זיף ניט נאך רויבערישע פּראָפיטען אונטער אַ וועגעטאַריש־פרומער מאַסקע צו ראַטעווען די ליידענדע מענשהייט, בעווייזט דאָ דער פאָלגענדער אויסצוג פון אונזערע ביל אָף פערס, וועלכע זיינען כמעט אין די אַלע 6 רעסטאָראַנען די זעלבע.
az mir yogen zif nit nakh royberishe profiten unter a vegetarish-frumer maske tsu rateven di leydende menshheyt, beveyzt do der folgender oystsug fun unzere bil of fers, velkhe zeynen khmet in di ale 6 restoranen di zelbe.
That we are not chasing robberish profits under a vegetarian-pious mask of saving suffering humanity, is proven by the following excerpt from our bills of fare, which are almost the same in all 6 restaurants.
  • ⁧רעגולאַר דינער 50ס. בעשטעהט פון: איין פאָרשפּייז, אַ קאָטלעט, סופּ און צושפּייז, ברויט און פּוטער.⁩
    regular diner 50s. beshteht fun: eyn forshpeyz, a kotlet, sup un tsushpeyz, broyt un puter.
    Regular Dinner 50¢. Consists of: an appetizer, a cutlet, soup and side dish, bread and butter.
  • ⁧איינצעלנע דישעס:⁩ eyntselne dishes: Individual Dishes:
    • ⁧וועדזשעטייבל סופּ 10ס.⁩ vejeteybl sup 10s. Vegetable Soup 10¢.
    • ⁧באָקווהיט סופּ 10ס.⁩ bokvhit sup 10s. Buckwheat Soup 10¢.
    • ⁧רייז און מילך 10ס.⁩ reyz un milkh 10s. Rice and Milk 10¢.
    • ⁧גראנאלא און מילך 10ס.⁩ granola un milkh 10s. Granola and Milk 10¢.
    • ⁧אַלע פלייקס און מילך 10ס.⁩ ale fleyks un milkh 10s. All Flakes and Milk 10¢.
    • ⁧שרעדעד ווהיט 10ס.⁩ shreded vhit 10s. Shredded Wheat 10¢.
  • ⁧קאָטלעטען פון דר. קעלאָג׳ס פּראטאָס אָדער נאטאס, וועלכע איז פיעל טהייערער ווי פלייש:⁩
    kotleten fun dr. kelog's protos oder notos, velkhe iz fyel theyerer vi fleysh:
    Cutlets from Dr. Kellogg's Protose or Nuttose, which is much more expensive than meat:
    • ⁧פּראטאס קאָטלעט 20ס.⁩ protos kotlet 20s. Protose Cutlet 20¢.
    • ⁧נאטאס קאטלעט 20ס.⁩ notos kotlet 20s. Nuttose Cutlet 20¢.
    • ⁧ראאַסטס 20ס.⁩ roasts 20s. Roasts 20¢.
    • ⁧סאַלאַטען 10ס., 15ס., 20ס.⁩ salaten 10s., 15s., 20s. Salads 10¢, 15¢, 20¢.

    • ⁧עגג סענדוויטש 10ס.⁩ egg sendvitsh 10s. Egg Sandwich 10¢.
    • ⁧טאָמייטאָ סענדוויטש 10ס.⁩ tomeyto sendvitsh 10s. Tomato Sandwich 10¢.
    • ⁧פּראטאס סענדוויטש 15ס.⁩ protos sendvitsh 15s. Protose Sandwich 15¢.
    • ⁧נאטאס סענדוויטש 15ס.⁩ notos sendvitsh 15s. Nuttose Sandwich 15¢.
    • ⁧לעטוס סענדוויטש 10ס.⁩ letus sendvitsh 10s. Lettuce Sandwich 10¢.
    • ⁧קאפע, טילך, קאקא 5ס.⁩ kafe, tilkh, kaka 5s. Coffee, Tea, Cocoa 5¢.
    • ⁧ברויט און פּוטער 5ס.⁩ broyt un puter 5s. Bread and Butter 5¢.
אונזערע קאָפטימערם וועלען אויך באַשטעטיגען אַז מען רעדט און אַגיטירט ניט אין קיינע פון אונזערע רעסטאָראַנען, אַז מען בעהאַנדעלט אַלעמען אַנשטענדיג, אַז מען גיט גאַנץ גרויסע פּאָרציאָנען, גענוג ברויט (האָל־ווהיט, דאָם געזונדסטע און קאָסטבאַרסטע ברויט), מיר זיינען די איינציגע, וועלכע יוזען דר. קעלאָגג׳ס בעטעל קריק פּראָדוקטען, די קיטשענם זיינען אַבסאָלוט פריי פאַר אינספּעקשאָן, מיר זיינען אימער די ערשטע צו סעטלען מיט דער ווייטערס יוניאָן.
unzere koftimerm velen oykh bashtetigen az men redt un agitirt nit in keyne fun unzere restoranen, az men behandelt alemen anshtendig, az men git gants groyse portsyonen, genug broyt (hol-vhit, dom gezundste un kostbarste broyt), mir zeynen di eyntsige, velkhe iuzen dr. kelogg's betel krik produkten, di kitshenm zeynen absolut frey far inspekshon, mir zeynen imer di ershte tsu setlen mit der veyters iunyon.
Our chefs will also confirm that one does not agitate in any of our restaurants, that one treats everyone decently, that one gives quite large portions, enough bread (whole wheat, the healthiest and cheapest bread), we are the only ones who use Dr. Kellogg's Battle Creek products, the kitchens are absolutely free for inspection, we are always the first to settle with the waiters union.
מעהר איינצעלהייטען וועט מען מיט צופריעדענהייט געבען יעדען איינעם אין אונזערע פאָלגענדע רעסטאָראַנען
mehr eyntselheyten vet men mit tsufryedegheyt geben yeden eynem in unzere folgende restoranen
More details will be gladly given to anyone in our following restaurants.
  • ⁧ב. סאזער׳ס וועגעטאַריער רעסטאָראַן⁩
    ⁧6טע עוועניו, צווישען 25טע און 26טע סטריטס⁩
    b. sazer's vegetaryer restoran 6te eveniu, tsvishen 25te un 26te strits
    B. Sazer's Vegetarian Restaurant
    6th Avenue, between 25th and 26th Streets
  • ⁧ב. סאזער׳ס וועגעטאַריער רעסטאָראַן⁩
    ⁧62 וועסט 36טע סטריט, צווישען 5טע און 6טע עוועניוס⁩
    b. sazer's vegetaryer restoran 62 vest 36te strit, tsvishen 5te un 6te evenius
    B. Sazer's Vegetarian Restaurant
    62 West 36th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues
  • ⁧טאפּילאָווסקי און מענדעלסאָן וועגעטאַריער רעסטאָראַן⁩
    ⁧68 ספּרינג סטריט, צווישען לאַפאַיעט און קראָסבי סטריטס⁩
    tapilovski un mendelson vegetaryer restoran 68 spring strit, tsvishen lafayet un krosbi strits
    Tapilowski and Mendelssohn Vegetarian Restaurant
    68 Spring Street, between Lafayette and Crosby Streets
  • ⁧סילבערפארב׳ס וועגעטאַריער רעסטאָראַן⁩
    ⁧67 סעקאָנד עװ., קאָרנער 4טע סט.
    silberfarb's vegetaryer restoran 67 sekond ev., korner 4te st.
    Silverfarb's Vegetarian Restaurant
    67 Second Ave., corner 4th St.
  • ⁧טאָלסטאָי וועגעטאַריער רעסטאָראַן⁩
    ⁧55 2טע עוועניו, צווישען 3טע און 4טע סטריטס⁩
    tolstoi vegetaryer restoran 55 2te eveniu, tsvishen 3te un 4te strits
    Tolstoy Vegetarian Restaurant
    55 2nd Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets
  • ⁧ווינוס וועגעטאַריער רעסטאָראַן⁩
    ⁧26 דילענסי סטריט, צווישען פאַרפייטה און קריסטיע סטריטם⁩
    vinus vegetaryer restoran 26 dilensi strit, tsvishen farfeyth un kristye stritm
    Venus Vegetarian Restaurant
    26 Delancey Street, between Fairfield and Christie Streets
  • ⁧עפנער׳ס איידיעל וועגעט. רעסטאָראַן, 1843 פּיטקין עוועניו, בראָנזוויל.⁩
    efner's eydyel veget. restoran, 1843 pitkin eveniu, bronzvil.
    Efner's Ideal Veget. Restaurant, 1843 Pitkin Avenue, Brownsville.

Nor was it only working class or immigrants. Edward Carpenter, the anarchist philosopher and early gay-rights activist, was a vegetarian and anti-visisectionist. (See, for example, here.)

George Bernard Shaw, the most famous vegetarian of his day, asserted The Impossibilities of Anarchism, as against (Fabian) Socialism. His biographer, Michael Holroyd summed up the intersections in play then.

From agnostics, anarchist and atheists; dress- and diet-reformers; from economists, feminists, philanthropists, rationalists, spiritualists, all striving to destroy or replace Christianity, was the socialist revival of the late nineteenth century to be draw.

George Orwell similarly felt that, in the face of rising Fascism,

For the moment the only possible course for any decent person, however much of a Tory or an anarchist by temperament, is to work for the establishment of Socialism.

He sometimes described himself as a Tory Anarchist, and was, moreoever, having none of the rest, wanting socialists that were rougher and straighter. Lightly in The road to Wigan Pier.

The first thing that must strike any outside observer is that Socialism in its developed form is a theory confined entirely to the middle class. The typical Socialist is not, as tremulous old ladies imagine, a ferocious-looking working man with greasy overalls and a raucous voice. He is either a youthful snob-Bolshevik who in five years' time will quite probably have made a wealthy marriage and been converted to Roman Catholicism; or, still more typically, a prim little man with a white-collar job, usually a secret teetotaller and often with vegetarian leanings, with a history of Nonconformity behind him, and, above all, with a social position which he has no intention of forfeiting.

And more bluntly in a letter to Jack Common.

And then so many of them are the sort of eunuch type with a vegetarian smell who go about spreading sweetness and light and have at the back of their minds a vision of the working class all T.T., well washed behind the ears, readers of Edward Carpenter or some other pious sodomite and talking with B.B.C. accents.

One also thinks here of Herbert Read, the War Poet and champion of modern art, converted to anarchism by reading Carpenter's Non-Governmental Society (as well as Bakunin and Kropotkin), who nevertheless accepted a knighthood in 1953 for contributions to literature. Read was never, I do not believe, a strict vegetarian. But a couple entries in the “Extracts from a Diary” (these were originally letters to his future wife Evelyn) chapter of the “War Diary” section of The Contrary Experience: Autobiographies hint in that direction: (29.xii.16) an ideal cook tolerent of his “vegetarian proclivities”; (26.x.18) “Lunch at Eustace Miles' — vegetarian!” (Meaning Eustice Miles's restaurant on Chandos St in Charing Cross. The lunch was with “Toby” Rutter. After lunch, they went to see Wyndham Lewis's exhibition, but Lewis was late, so they went round to Ezra Pound's for a while. Lewis showed up later and afterwards they went to tea with Osbert and Sachie Sitwell.)

The FAI, the capital-A Anarchists in Orwell's Homage to Catalonia, debated, according to José Peirats, their attitude toward vegetarians.

B) Ante las corrientes lingüísticas, vegetarianas, etc., ¿se deben formar agrupaciones naturistas, esperantistas, dentro del movimiento anarquista? Se acuerda ir a estas agrupaciones y aceptarlas también, respetándose aquella labor por ellas más preferida, con tal que al adherirse sean ante todo anarquistas.
B) Given the linguistic, vegetarian, etc. currents, should naturist and Esperantist groups be formed within the anarchist movement? It is agreed to go to these groups and accept them as well, respecting the work they most prefer, as long as when they join they are above all anarchists.

Which adds another idealist dimension closer to the focus of this blog, language reformers and Esperantists in particular. It also takes us back to the starting point of this post, as Yiddish was one of Zamenhof's native languages. Wikipedia has a whole page on Anarchism and Esperanto. As for Vegetarianism and Esperanto, for the 8th Esperanto Congress in Kraków, in 1912, the following arrangements were made.

Vegetarana restoracio — Konsiderante la fakton ke inter la esperantistoj troviĝas sufiĉe multaj vegetaranoj la Komitato faris kontrakton kun vegetarana restoracio kies mastrino kaj servistaro parolas Esperanton.
Vegetarian restaurant — Considering the fact that there are quite a few vegetarians among Esperantists, the Committee made a contract with a vegetarian restaurant whose owner and staff speak Esperanto.

The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) has a page on the Tutmonda Esperantista Vegetarana Asocio (TEVA) 'World Esperantist Vegetarian Association'. (The two organizations were started at the same time and place, Dresden August 1908, where J. Arthur Gill arranged for vegetarian Esperantists to meet at the time of the 4th Esperanto Congress, and then for non-Esperantists to meet there a little before and form the broader organization.) has scans of its Vegetarano from the '20s to the '60s and Esperantista Vegetarano from the '70s into this century. Zamenhof's Fundamenta krestomatio includes Kio estas vegetarismo? 'What is vegetarianism?'.

Eve Jochnowitz, Yiddish scholar, culinary historian, and vegetarian, wrote a paper, “A Younger World: Vegetarian Writing and Recipes in Yiddish as Political Strategies,” that puts such writing in the context of “Socialism, Anarchism, Zionism, and Aguda.” It too retells Nadir's “Nutose un Protose” story, noting that she was surprised to learn that these were real products. But it also translates part of a letter from Sholem Aleichem to Joseph Perper where he says, apropos of communicating with Zamenhof about publishing Esperanto translations of his work, “Vegetarianism and Esperanto stem from the same ideological root.” This is from a piece “Sholem Aleichem Un Zayn Batsiung Tsum Vegetarizm,” 'Sholam Aleichem and his attitude toward vegetarianism' in ⁧דער וועגעטארישער געדאנק⁩ der vegetarisher gedank 'The Vegetarian Idea'. This periodical only ran for three issues and this is from no. 3 of March 1930; among all libraries, Harvard only has no. 1 and NYPL only has no. 2. Only CJH's YIVO Vilna Collection, where I believe Jochnowitz works, has all three. In any case, the original is far away and there may be some time before it is digitized.

But what of vegetarian anarchist Esperantists? Esperanto was one of the courses at the Stelton Modern School mentioned above. Outside of America, the Pearce Register of First World War Conscientious Objectors on the Imperial War Museum's website includes one William Greaves (b. 1885), a shipping clerk, objected with the motivation,

Non-Sect; NCF (No-Conscription Fellowship); Anarchist-Communist; Esperanto; Vegetarian;

The record there ends in 1917 with him having served a prison sentence with hard labour for disobeying orders in the Non-Combatant Corps.

Élisée Reclus, the vegetarian anarchist geographer, wrote approvingly of Esperanto in L'homme et la terre.

C'est, d'un côté, que le sentiment de fraternité internationale a sa part dans le désir d'employer une langue commune, sentiment qui se rencontre surtout chez les travailleurs socialistes, hostiles à toute idée de guerre, et, de l'autre, que l'esperanto, plus facile à apprendre que n'importe quelle autre langue, s'offre de prime abord aux travailleurs ayant peu de loisir pour leurs études.
It is, on the one hand, that the feeling of international brotherhood has its part in the desire to use a common language, a feeling which is found especially among socialist workers, hostile to any idea of war, and, on the other hand, that Esperanto, easier to learn than any other language, is readily available to workers who have little time for their studies.

The Weimar anarchists of the ISK were required to be vegetarians. Leonard Nelson asserted this as a basic commitment outside of any consensus, writing,

Ein Arbeiter, der nicht nur ein „verhinderter Kapitalist“ sein will, und dem es also Ernst ist mit dem Kampf gegen jede Ausbeutung, der beugt sich nicht der verächtlichen Gewohnheit, harmlose Tiere auszubeuten, der beteiligt sich nicht an dem täglichen millionenfachen Mord, der an Grausamkeit, Rohheit und Feigheit alle Schrecknisse des Weltkriegs in den Schatten stellt.
Das sind Angelegenheiten, Genossen, die entziehen sich der Abstimmung.
A worker who does not just want to be a “would-be capitalist” and who is serious about the fight against all exploitation does not give in to the contemptible habit of exploiting harmless animals, he does not take part in the daily murder of millions that in terms of cruelty, brutality and cowardice, eclipses all the horrors of the World War.
These are matters, comrades, that cannot be voted on.

The ISK published La Kritika observanto: revuo politika kaj kultura 'The Critical observer: a political and cultural magazine'. There seem to only be a few copies in libraries and only one issue has been digitized. (The BnF WorldCat entry actually points to this ÖNB copy.) It is not listed in the LIDIAP. But copies do show up in used bookstores occasionally. As might be expected, its few ads are for other printed matter.

Esperanto is strongly associated with Chinese anarchists at the start of the twentieth century, of which there were two groups, one in France and one in Japan. 新世紀 Xin Shiji 'New Century', published in Paris 1907-1910, started out with a subtitle La Tempoj Novaj 'New Times', but later switched to La Siècle Nouveau 'New Century'. It ran some articles on 萬國新語 wànguó xīnyǔ 'Esperanto'. One of the leaders of this group and funder of its printing was 李石曾 Li Shizeng, who was a vegetarian as well as an anarchist and did much to introduce soy foods to Europe. To this end, and to provide funds and a place to employ Chinese students from the Work-Study Movement, he started Usine de la Caséo-Sojaïne / 巴黎豆腐工廠 Bālí dòufu gōngchǎng 'Paris tofu factory'. Again, the Soyinfo Center has a book with extensive bibliography and illustrations on this.

天義報 Tianyi bao 'Journal of Natural Justice', published in Tokyo 1907-1908, printed a strange drawing by Adolphe Willette titled Al Elisée Reclus and subtitled Unu mamo por ĉiu / Unu koro por ĉiuj 'A breast for each / A heart for all'. The scan is pretty hard to make out; the same picture appeared as a postcard and better images of it can be found on a site for anarchist postcards and another for a postcard dealer.

There was debate on what to call Esperanto in Chinese. In addition to the above 萬國新語 wànguó xīnyǔ 'new language for ten thousand nations', there was the more direct 世界語 shìjiè yǔ 'world language' — which would eventually win, a calque 希望者 xīwàng zhě 'hoping one', a phonetic approximation 愛斯不難讀 àisībùnándú 'loved as not difficult to read', and a shorter phonetic 愛世語 àishìyǔ 'love the world language'.

The most important anarchist in China was 師復 Shifu. He was born 劉兆彬 Liu Shaobin, changed his name and then dropped the family name 劉 Liu altogether as part of a rejection of the family system, in which both clans divided people and men dominated women through marriage. In Esperanto, he wrote as Sifo. In 1912, after reading 新世紀 Xin Shiji, he converted to anarchism and started the 心社 Xin She 'Conscience Society'. In 1913, he founded the journal 晦鳴錄 Huiming lu 'Cock-Crow Record', with subtitle 平民之聲 pingmin zhi sheng 'Voice of the Common People' and Esperanto title La Voĉo de la Popolo 'The Voice of the People'; the Chinese name was later shortened to just 民聲 Min Sheng 'Voice of the People'. On the second page of the first issue, Shifu laid out each of their principles.

  • 共產主義。 gòngchǎn zhǔyì. 'communism'
  • 反對軍國主義。 fǎnduì jūnguó zhǔyì. 'anti-militarism'
  • 工團主義。 gōngtuán zhǔyi. 'syndicalism'
  • 反對宗教主義。 fǎnduì zōngjiào zhǔyì. 'anti-religion-ism'
  • 反對家族主義。 fǎnduì jiāzú zhǔyì. 'anti-family-ism'
  • 素食主義。 sùshí zhǔyì. 'vegetarianism'
  • 語言統一。 yǔyán tǒngyī. 'language unification'
  • 萬國大同。 wànguó dàtóng. 'Great Harmony for all nations'

Note how the first two pages have Esperanto headings, Deklaracio 'Declaration' and Klarigo pri anarĥismo 'Explanation of anarchism'. Elsewhere there is 素食主義淺說 sùshí zhǔyì qiǎnshuō 'A brief introduction to vegetarianism' headed La vegetarismo.

Shifu and his comrades formed an urban commune to try to put these principles into practice. They planned a rural commune, but those plans were never accomplished. Despite their commitment in principle to gender equality, the cooking and cleaning were done by Shifu's sisters. (His brothers and sisters helped operate the printing press and the sisters also did the binding.) Changes in eating seem to have mostly been using tofu instead of meat, and, for some reason, forks instead of chopsticks. Those details come from an unpublished Huiyi Shifu (回憶師復, I imagine) 'Recollections of Shifu' by 莫纪彭 Mo Jipeng, related in Edward Krebs, Shifu: Soul of Chinese Anarchism. There is also 莫紀彭先生訪問紀錄 / Mo Jipeng xian sheng fang wen ji lu 'The Reminiscences of Mr. Mo Jie-peng', which was published about the same time (1997) as that biography (1998). I think these are two different documents, covering similar memories, but I might be confused. The latter is in Google Books. Snippet view isn't hopeless, but it helps to know that it uses the more modern 世界語 shìjiè yǔ 'world language' for 'Esperanto' and both 無政府 wúzhèngfǔ 'no government' and the phonetic 安那其 ānnàqí for 'anarchy'. As well as a summary of anarchist history (with some badly mangled European names in Roman type, transcribed from handwriting, I suppose: Elesee Reckno), he recalls slogans like 素食爲大同起點之情! sùshí wèi dàtóng qǐdiǎn zhī qíng 'Vegetarianism is the starting point of Datong!' But also more personal details, such as that the others had a nickname for Shifu of 「正經先生」 zhèngjīng xiānshēng “Mr. Serious.” (Krebs has 'Mr. Earnest', but that suggests the Wildean pun to me.) Or that 烹調是香烈的! pēngtiáo shì xiāng liè de 'The cooking was fragrant and strong!'

Shifu died in 1915. Issue No. 23 ran a special tribute to him, with a picture titled S-ro Sifo 'Mr. Sifo' and 師​復​者​遺像 Shī​fù​zhě​yíxiàng 'Portrait of Shifu'. The Esperanto version from La Voĉo de la Popolo is not scanned here (or anywhere else I can find). All these Google Books scans are actually of a 1967 reprint, edited by Martin Bernal, still a postdoc at Cambridge and far away from any controveries about the Classical World. (The 1992 reprint, edited by 狭間直樹 Naoki Hazama, might be more complete.) But it appears to have been reproduced in The British Esperantist of August 1915. Both list the principles of 心社 Xin She 'Conscience Society' Konscienco.

  1. 不食肉。bù shíròu. 'Do not eat meat.' kontraŭ viando
  2. 不飲酒。bù yǐnjiǔ. 'Do not drink liquor.' kontraŭ alkoholo
  3. 不吸煙。bù xīyān. 'Do not smoke tobacco.' kontraŭ tabako
  4. 不用僕役。bùyòng púyì. 'Do not use servants.' kontraŭ sklaveco
  5. 不乘轎及人力車。bù chéng jiào jí rénlìchē. 'Do not ride in sedan-chairs or rickshas.' kontraŭ homveturilo
  6. 不婚姻。bù hūnyīn. 'Do not marry.' kontraŭ edzeco
  7. 不稱族姓。bù chēng zú xìng. 'Do not use a family name.' kontraŭ familieco
  8. 不作官吏。bùzuò guānlì. 'Do not serve as an official.' ne ŝtatoficistiĝo
  9. 不作議員。bùzuò yìyuán. 'Do not serve as a member of a representative body.' ne deputatiĝo
  10. 不入政黨。bù rù zhèngdǎng. 'Do not join a political party.' ne politikpartianiĝo
  11. 不作海陸軍人。bùzuò hǎi lùjūn rén. 'Do not serve in the army or navy.' ne militistiĝo
  12. 不奉宗教。bù fèng zōngjiào. 'Do not believe in a religion.' kontraŭ religio

Those English translations are Krebs's. The original list can also be found here in an collection of Shifu's writings in Chinese, hosted by Marxists, that also transcribes a defense of Esperanto headed in French, Les Anarchistes et la Internationale Langue“Esperanto”, but nothing of diet outside the whole list.

Perhaps more importantly, and maybe even as a testament to the idea that using Esperanto might reach a worldwide audience (plus circling this post back), Emma Goldman's Mother Earth published a translation of part of that tribute from Esperanto into English by the British Esperantist H[arry] E. Shaw, though it does not repeat all the principles (beyond implying anarchism) or even mention his vegetarianism. 民聲 Min Sheng 'Voice of the People' continued to be published sporadically in Shanghai through 1916. In 1921, it was restarted in Canton. The Esperanto and English supplements for these last issues are included in the scan. For instance, No. 31 of April 1921, with a piece on Kropotkin, who had just died. But this was possibly without as much effort to meld all Shifu's -isms.