Hoppin’ John Taylor unearths the meaning of the mysterious word “vigareets” from the nineteenth-century cookbook What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, previously thought to be the first cookbook written by an African American. Originally published in 1881, the book was released in facsimile in 1995, with historical notes by the culinary scholar Karen Hess, who was unable to ascertain the meaning of the word, which was used to name a type of croquette. Using technical skills and mechanical history, rather than more traditional etymological and culinary historical analysis, Taylor explains the name of the dish and places it in a historical context of women's issues, printing, and slang.

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