Sunday, October 14, 2007

How the Chow Chow Came to be Named

This weekend Rene and I were standing at the checkout line at TJ Maxx (where else would we be?) and were looking at a rack of books while waiting for the next cashier.

We found this book showing pictures of dogs, and on page 154 we found the Chow Chow breed. Apparently, Chows originated in China and were used by the Chinese for three main purposes: guard dogs, cart pullers, and meat. That's right I said meat.

Abby: Hey Chuy, want some chow mein?

Chuy: Sure, what's in it?

Abby: Chow Chows!

Chuy: D'Oh! That's nasty!

In all seriousness, chow mein does not contain any Chow Chows. Nor was the dish named after the Chow Chow breed. Chuy's breed is actually called Songshi Quan in Chinese, which translates to "puffy lion dog." When these dogs were shipped to England in the 1700s the boxes were labeled "chow chow," which was how the Chinese referred to miscelleaneous merchandise in the English language and the name stuck.

Now if only I can convince Chuy that there are no Chow Chows in chow mein, I'll be good.

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