Chateaubriand the pocket steak (and the pork dish)

Joanne M. Despres jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM
Thu Dec 20 15:55:23 UTC 2001

Jim Landau asked for Ward Gilman's story behind the Third
International's flub-up of sense 1 of _chateaubriand_ "a steak in
which a pocket is cut and stuffed with shallots, chives, cayenne,
and salt. According to Gil, the W3 editor for food terms took sense
1 from a reference book where the author explained what the
original dish was--the stuffed steak.  But the word never signified
that concoction in English--it was a confusion of thing and word by
the editor.

Michael Belanger, the biography editor here, recalls another funny
slip-up involving chateaubriand -- though this one, fortunately, never
made it into any dictionary.  He once came across in the files a
cite with the heading "chateaubriand pork chops." This monstrosity
came about because the cite read something like "options include
chateaubriand steak or pork chops." The marker interpreted
"chateaubriand " as modifying both "steak" and "pork chops" and
so took off cites for both versions of this strange dish.

So you see, it really isn't necessary to insert deliberate mistakes
in order to catch plagiarists.  The inadvertant ones are sufficient to
do the job, if anyone had the time or the inclination to look for
these things.


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