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  • Allie

Foodie Wordies

Updated: Jun 3, 2020

The Whale & the Cupcake by Julia O’Malley

This week I have a special Wordy Wednesday post for you. Today’s words come from a beloved book entitled The Whale & the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing & Community in Alaska by Julia O’Malley. The book fulfills the Reading Women Challenge prompt #21, a book about food, and fulfills my perpetual desire to read about life in Alaska.

The book itself is quite handsome, printed on matte textured paper with photos galore of the food, the people, and the land. Each chapter includes O’Malley’s clear, down-to-earth writing, an interview, and a recipe.

The majority of words I picked up from the book pertain to food prep and ingredient lists, which inspired me to mix up the usual Wordy Wednesday format. For each I’ll include the sentence in which I found the word and an Oxford definition, but some of them warrant a photo rather than a sentence of my own making. So far this is my longest list of Wednesday words, and I encourage you to feast away!


“Add a layer of Yukon Gold potatoes sliced on a mandoline if you like” (32).

Noun: a kitchen utensil consisting of a flat frame with adjustable blades for slicing vegetables.

My husband affectionately calls the mandoline the knuckle-shredder.


“This springtime process plays out every few weeks, year-round, in the controlled environment of Klein’s hydroponic microgreen farm” (51).

Noun: the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil.

Lettuce plants in hydroponic greenhouse


“Like many chefs in Alaska’s small cohort of fine dining restaurants, he relies on as many local purveyors and farmers as possible” (58).

Noun: a person who sells or deals in particular goods; a person or group that spreads or promotes an idea, view, etc.

Purveyors of books include both book sellers and those who promote reading.


“You can cut these huge, beautiful pieces of meat, and then I can turn all the connective tissue into a rich, unctuous, satisfying broth” (60).

Adjective: (of a person) excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily. (Chiefly of minerals) having a greasy or soapy feel.

Origin: late Middle English (in the sense ‘greasy’): from Medieval Latin unctuosus, from Latin unctuous ‘anointing’, from unguere ‘anoints’.

Bone broth is a touted “superfood”: the unctuous broth is full of minerals and healthy fats, which support a well-functioning immune system.


O’Malley gives this name for “a big weekend-long pig-butchering party very loosely modeled after community-wide parties held in the Southern state, at which people dispatch a pig together and cook up the whole thing” (105).

Noun: French for “butchery”.

A boucherie, not the same thing as a pig roast, involves anatomy diagrams and hours of cutting before doling out the meat to prepare various dishes.


“He swirled a jar of nasturtium vinaigrette and offered me some to taste” (110).

Noun, a South American trailing plant with round leaves and bright orange, yellow, or red edible flowers that is widely grown as ornamental.

Red nasturtium blossoms


“Salted salmon roe is a delicacy, and sourdough starter an heirloom” (114).

Noun, the mass of eggs contained in the ovaries of a female fish or shellfish, typically including the ovaries themselves, especially when ripe and used as food.

Bowl of rice and salmon topped with garnish of roe


“I do kind of draw the line at kohlrabi but everything else I’m okay with” (118).

Noun, a cabbage of a variety with an edible, swollen stem.

Kohlrabi cabbage with white background

Do you have a favorite food book? Share in the comments!



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