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New word of the month
by Kerry Maxwell

tofurkey noun [C]
a meat alternative made from tofu and often shaped in the form of a turkey

'Good News For Vegetarians & Turkeys Whether you are seeking to offer a meatless option for a portion of your dinner guests or are planning a complete vegetarian feast, Tofurkey will satisfy and amaze all who try it Finally, vegetarians have a bona fide holiday centerpiece that is all their own. They don't have to settle for second best anymore.'
(www.tofurkey.com, November 2003)

Christmas is almost upon us, and many of us will be preparing for a traditional Christmas meal with an oven-cooked bird and all the trimmings. But what about those of us who refuse to sink our teeth into roasted flesh? The last few years have seen a massive expansion in the range of readily available vegetarian alternatives, many of them rather ironically imitating the meat products that non-meat eaters are reputedly trying to avoid, such as burgers, grills and sausages. Christmas fare is now no exception with the popularisation of tofurkey, which has been widely available in the United States and Canada since the early nineties. This bird-shaped hunk of tofu is the subject of much debate in the vegetarian world, both in terms of its taste (some adore, many abhor!) and the fact that, although it is just an innocent blend of the words tofu and turkey, tofurkey bears an unfortunate resemblance to words in bad taste, a factor which hasn't enhanced its popularity.

Those vegetarians which reject the tofurkey and opt for a large portion of salmon on their Christmas platter should now be officially classified as pescetarians. Pescetarian is a term coined in the early nineties to describe vegetarians who eat fish:

'Pescetarian is a frequently used term for those alleged veggies who eat seafood (but not meat or fowl), and irritate meat eaters and genuine vegetarians the world over.'
(Judith Holden in 'Dear Weekend', The Guardian, 27th April 2002)

The prefix pesce- derives from the Italian word for 'fish', and has been used creatively in another more recent coining: pescetarians may enjoy washing down their Christmas meal with pescevino, a term used in the last couple of years to refer to red or white wine which is particularly suitable as an accompaniment to fish. A less appealing but rather more widely used synonym for pescetarian, also dating back to the early nineties, is fishetarian, used like vegetarian in a range of culinary contexts referring to menu types and cuisine. A lesser used synonym is pescivore, developed by analogy with the term carnivore ('an animal that eats other animals').

Turkey, tofurkey, fish and nut roast would all be unwelcome on the Christmas table of a so-called rawist. This term dates from 1996, and refers to a person who will only eat uncooked food, especially nuts, seeds and organic fruit and vegetables. The rawist philosophy is so extreme as to be completely incompatible with the excesses of Christmas indulgences. For the rawist, even an innocent baked potato is potentially carcinogenic, squeezed of its nutritional value by being placed in the oven! The uncountable noun rawism is used as a general term for this philosophy, based on the idea that only foods which can be eaten in a fresh, uncooked natural state are foods that should be consumed at all.

Rawists are often subclassified as either juicearian, consuming only fresh juices, sproutarian, consuming mostly sprouts (at least they would find something to enjoy on a traditional English Christmas dinner plate!), and fruitarian, a term which quite substantially predates rawist culture, being coined in 1893 by analogy with vegetarian to refer to people whose diet consists solely of fruit.

If you're feeling disheartened as you go out and buy your heavily processed Christmas pud, doubtless brimming with preservatives, or as you order your delicious ready-basted turkey which will spend hours in the oven, take heart, at the other end of the 'healthy-eating' spectrum is the salad dodger.

This is an informal term for a person who is overweight, or a person who is not interested in eating healthy foods. Salad dodger has been widely used on both sides of the Atlantic since 1999, and has mildly insulting but euphemistic overtones, another alternative for describing someone as 'fat'. Typical usage would be something like: Tony's a bit of a salad dodger or She always was a porker, a real salad dodger There's also plenty of evidence for a derived adjective salad-dodging, generally used attributively in insulting references such as he's a fat salad-dodging pie eater

It's comforting to think that, if we're really honest, there's a bit of a salad dodger in all of us, and there is no better time than Christmas to indulge those salad-dodging tendencies! Many of us will be washing down those 'naughty' foods with equally naughty favourite drinks such as sherry, sparkling wine and Coca Cola. The nineties even gave us the alcopop, the soft drink with alcohol, to give us the best of both worlds.

If you're bored with your usual Christmas tipple, you could always try a
nicotini. Yes, this takes the alcopop concept one step further, an alcoholic drink laced with nicotine! Drinks infused with nicotine first appeared in the United States earlier this year after a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in New York. Nicotini is a play on the words nicotine and martini, a strong alcoholic drink made from gin and vermouth. You can even choose from various varieties of nicotini:

'The regular nicotini has more bite than a martini and leaves a noticeable aftertaste in the throat. The menthol variety contains crème de menthe and has a cough drop taste, while the "Black Lung" includes Kahlua and has a coffee flavor.'
(South Florida Sentinel, 30th July 2003)

But beware, all nicotinis carry a health warning; side effects may include dizziness, palpitations and nicotine poisoning. It sounds safer to stick to the sherry, or better still, the carrot juice!

Happy Christmas, whatever you eat or drink!


For more information about new and topical words and phrases, read Kerry's Word of the Week articles on the MED Resource Site.