by Terry Thornton
For the past three days I've had loads of fun preparing and writing three articles about cooking eels, turtles, and frog legs. A dieting writer will write about food of any sort. And as I wasted time Walter Mitty-ing about eating those critters cooked the Hill Country way, I encountered a most interesting recipe and a new, to me, use of the old word "mugwump."
I have long heard the word "mugwump" used to describe a politician who jumps party lines or who promises one thing but then does another --- but I'd never heard "mudwump" used to describe that "in-between" stage of life mid-way between tadpole and frog. All of you have caught those tiny "mugwumps" --- a tadpole-looking frog but neither a tadpole nor a frog --- a mugwump!
But what caught my eye as I was reading for recipes using eel, turtle,or frog legs were the pictures and the name of a recipe, "Mugwump in a Hole." What fun!
The author of the cook book, Mrs. E. Stephens Tilton, defines "mugwump" as "neither one thing nor the other" and uses the old Southern definition of mugwump to define that strange critter midway between a tadpole and a frog --- neither one nor the other.
Actually the "mugwump" in Mrs. Tilton's recipe is a poor cut of meat, not a mugwump, but just called a mugwump because the cut of meat is neither too bad to discard nor good enough to serve alone --- and the dish is a take-off on the older English country-fare called "Toad in a Hole" which is prepared the same way.
Here is an image of the recipe and its illustration. Click to enlarge and to read the comments about "mugwump" and to read the directions for making "Mugwump in a Hole." There is neither frog nor tadpole in this dish!
I leave to others to name the mugwumps amongst us who call themselves politicians. Seems to me there are several out there who would qualify for the phrase "mugwump" --- and those we should remember come election day.
Tilton, Mrs. E. Stevens. Home Dissertations: An Offering to the Household For Economical and Practical Skill in Cookery, Orderly Domestic management, and Nicety in the Appointments of Home. New York: Hunter and Beach. 1886, Page 111. Available on Google Fullview Books; accessed July 21, 2008.