Possibly OT: FW: "Peacemaker" as a food term

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Thu Jan 3 00:04:31 UTC 2008

Barry Popik has shared the message below with a select group of ads-lers, and I now pass it along to the entire list.  I assume it will be of interest to the lexicographers and those particularly interested in food terminology.

Gerald Cohen
gcohen at mst.edu


From: Barry Popik [mailto:bapopik at gmail.com]
Sent: Wed 1/2/2008 3:06 AM
Subject: Peacemaker (La Mediatrice)

No "peacemaker" in the revised OED? No "peacemaker" in DARE??  ...
There are some nice 1890s citations from the New York Sun and New York World.
Peacemaker or La Mediatrice (oyster loaf)
New Orleans was famous for its oyster loaf in the 19th century. When
husbands came home late in New Orleans, they were sure to bring with
them a "peacemaker" or "la mediatrice"-an oyster loaf-to a waiting

The "peacemaker" dish became popular throughout the South. The oyster
loaf (oysters in a hollowed-out loaf of bread) has a long history, but
"peacemaker" is cited in print from the 1890s. Some scholars believe
that the New Orleans oyster loaf or "peacemaker" helped to create the
famous New Orleans oyster "po' boy" sandwich.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
oyster loaf n.
(a) a loaf or roll of bread having a crust stuffed with oysters (obs.);
(b) U.S. regional (chiefly Louisiana) a baked sandwich consisting of a
hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with oysters and other ingredients
(cf. POOR BOY n., PO' BOY n.); (also) the bread for such a sandwich.
eOE Bald's Leechbk. (Royal) II. xxiii. 210 Ore wætan [read hwætene]
mete gearwa & cocnunga ealle sint to forbeodanne, & eal a wætan ing &
a smerewigan & *osterhlafas & eall swete ing.
1747 H. GLASSE Art of Cookery ix. 99 To make Oyster-Loaves.
1837 B. DISRAELI Venetia I. iv, A dish of oyster loaves.
1888 Forest & Stream 16 Feb. 64 Cold baked chicken, oyster loaf (and
boiled duck if desired after the first day) were the chief articles of
diet that this crew fed on during the trip.
1986 B. FUSSELL II. viii. 113 Only plentitude can account for the
number of oyster dishes named by New Orleans restaurant cooks
desperate to distinguish their bivalves from the po' boy oyster loaves
of the bars.

What's Cooking America
A predecessor was the Peacemaker Sandwich (La Mediatrice), a loaf of
French bread, split and buttered and filled with fried oysters. The
poetic name derives from the fact that 19th-century husbands, coming
in late from a carouse or spree, would carry one home to cushion a
possible rough reception from the lady of the house.

1838 - The first recorded American recipe for Oyster Loaves was in
Mrs. Mary Randolph's cookbook called The Virginia Housewife or
Methodical Cook. This cookbook is considered the first truly American
cookbook and the first regional American cookbook cookbook:
To Make Oyster Loaves-Take little round loaves, cut off the top,
scrape out all the crumbs, then out the oysters into a stew pan with
the crumbs that came out of the loaves, a little water, and a good
lump of butter; stew them together ten or fifteen minutes, then put in
a spoonful of good cream, fill your loaves, lay the bit of crust
carefully on again, set them in the oven to crisp. Three are enough
for a side dish.

1901 - The Picayune's Creole Cook Book, 2nd edition, by the Picayune
newspaper, also contained a recipe for Oyster Loaf:
Oyster Loaf - La Mediatrice
Delicate French Loaves of Bread
2 Dozen Oyster to a Loaf
1 Tablespoon of Melted Butter

This is called the "famous peacemaker" in New Orleans. Every husband
who is detained down town, laughingly carried home an oyster loaf, or
Mediatrice, to make "peace" with his anxiously waiting wife. Right
justly is the Oyster Loaf called the "Peace-maker," for, well made, it
is enough to bring the smiles to the face of the most disheartened

Take delicate French loaves of bread and cup off, lengthwise, the
upper portion. Dip the crumbs out of the center of eaah piece, leaving
the sides and bottom like a square box. Brush each corner of the box
and the bottom with melted butter, and place in a quick oven to brown.
Fill with broiled or creamed oysters. Cover with each other and serve.

24 May 1891, Syracuse (NY) Herald, pg. 3, col. 6:
Oyster Loaves.
N. Y. Sun.
New Orleans is famous for many dishes peculiar to itself. it should be
famous for its oyster loaves. You see them advertised everywhere in
the streets. An oyster loaf is half of a ten-cent double-polated loaf
of white bread. It is split down on one side and then a part of the
soft interior is taken out and all the rest is toasted. After that a
dozen fried oysters are put in the loaf and it is closed and has a
wedge of toasted bread fitted into its open end. The oyster loaf is
said to be an amazing peacemaker for married men on lodge nights.

20 July 1893, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. 7:
How a New Orleans Man Saves a Certain
Lecture After Being Out Late.
>From the New York World.
When the New Orleans man returns from making a night of it "with the
boys" he provides himself with what is known as a peacemaker, and
carries it home under his arm. The peacemaker is also known as an
oyster loaf, and it is the chief product of certain hostelries called
oyster saloons. A box-shaped loaf of bread is taken-one that has a
thick, firm crust-and the top crust is cut off so as to form a cover.
Then the inside is hollowed out with a knife made for that purpose
until a wall of the snowy interior remains about half an inch in
thickness. It is done so neatly that the pastry box looks as if it had
been lined with white velvet. Into this piping hot fried oysters are
packed until the loaf is full, and then the cover is tied up with a
white ribbon. When this whole has been wrapped in paper, the buyer
flees as a bird to his home. The little difficulty with the key hole
overcome, he steps into the awful presence undismayed. There she
stands, grim as of yore, but without an apologetic word the erring one
climbs slowly up the stair and holds forth the peacemaker. She takes
it, puts down the lamp and removes the cover. The deliciously flavored
steam ascends like sweet incense until it reaches her rigid nostrils
and then her stern features relax into something like a smile. While
her lord is hanging his shoes on the chandelier and depositing his hat
carefully in the wash basin, she sits on the side of the bed eating
the spoils of domestic war. There are no promises to go unfulfilled
and become the cause of future bitterness. With all thus turned on the
waves of life's troubled sea the matrimonial bark sails bravely on.

2 January 1894, Grand Forks (ND) Daily Herald, pg. 3:
The oyster fry in a box as a peacemaker was a popular joke half a
dozen years ago; now they put ice-cream in boxes, and all sorts of

14 November 1900, Arizona Republican (Phoenix, AZ), pg. 7, col. 4 ad:
If you are out late and know your wife will be cross when you get
home, stop in at
and have an oyster loaf put up and take it home with you. You will
find it a good peacemaker. We deliver them anywhere up to midnight.

12 February 1905, Montgomery (AL) Advertiser, pg. 7 ad:
At the eleventh hour Oyster Loaves-Peacemakers served with care.
(Harrison's Cafe - -ed.)

10 October 1913, Wilkes-Barre (PA Times Leader, pg. 10:
Oyster Peacemakers.
Four or five large potatoes, one egg, white bread crumbs, two dozen
large oysters, one heaping tablespoonful of butter, one tablespoonful
flour, 1/2 cupful cream, 1/2 cupful oyster liquor, seasoning of salt
and pepper, and mix shrimps for each "peacemaker." Wash and peel the
potatoes, then rewash and trim them to even sized oval shapes. Scoop
out the centers so as to leave a neat case. Parboil these cases until
the potato is just getting tender, but do not completely cook them on
any account. Take them out of the water, dry on soft cloth, brush each
over with beaten egg, and roll in bread crumbs. Bake this in a quick
oven until crumbs are a light brown; or, if in haste, the potatoes may
be fried in smoking hot fat. To make filling:  Blend the butter and
flour in saucepan, add the oyster liquor and cream; stir until it
boils, then add bread crumbs sufficient to make sauce of good creamy
consistency. Then season mixture with great care. Cut oysters in
halves; beat without boiling them in sauce, then pile up in potato
cases. Put six shrimps on top of each, and serve the "peacemakers"
very hot, garnished with parsley.

30 January 1940, Lowell (MA) Sun, pg. 16, col. 2:
We read of a husband, detained downtown, "carrying home la mediatrice,
that celebrated peacemaker of new Orleans, the delicious oysterloaf,
filled with broiled or creamed oysters, and warranted to bring a smile
to the face of the most disheartened wife." Thus the artists of the
kitchen become negotiators of treaties of domestic peace. That's
genuine "home cooking."

12 January 1947, Washington (DC) Post, "From Old New Orleans," pg. S2:
(For Four)
2 dozen oysters
2 egg yolks, beaten
Salt and pepper
1 loaf French bread

Dip oyster in flour. Brush them over with beaten egg yolk, which has
been seasoned with salt and pepper. Now fry in hot fat for three or
four minutes, until a delicate golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
Have ready a loaf of French bread, having removed the top and the soft
inside part, thus forming acase. Put a little oyster liquor into this
case and set it in the oven to get thoroughly hot. Place the oysters
in the loaf, garnish with a few slices of gherkins, cover with the
lid, and serve hot.

9 September 1949, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, "FOR MEN ONLY!; Some
Oyster Lore, Then the Creole Husband's Secret for Making Peace with
His Irate Spouse" by Morrison Wood, pg. A7:
One of the most delicious oyster concoctions I know of is oyster loaf.
But I much prefer the Creole designation of this dish, which is la
mediatrice, meaning peacemaker. It is really a gastronomical
masterpiece-fried oysters served in a hollowed-out loaf of bread,

It apparently received its Creole name from two sources, as far as I
can determine. When Louisiana parents came home from a party in the
small hours, they expected their children to be worried and fretful.
So they'd bring them a loaf of bread filled with fried oysters.

However, the version I prefer has it that the lord and master of the
household, coming home at or near dawn with a load aboard, or as the
English put it "high tiddley-eye-tie," would present his irate wife
with la mediatrice, which he had somehow managed to pick up on the way
home. I have never tried this as a pacifier, but it sounds like a good

Use Entire Loaf of Bread
Cut off the top of the entire loaf of French bread and scoop out the
inside to make a basket, leaving about 1/2 inch of crust all around.
Then dip 2 dozen oysters in flour. In the meantime, beat the yolk of
one egg, and season it with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste,
and mix in a teaspoon of sherry. Now dip the floured oysters in the
seasoned egg yolk, then in yellow corn meal. Fry them in hot fat until
brown. Remove them from the fat, drain, and then place the drained
fried oysters in the loaf of bread, which previously has been toasted.
Lay thin slivers of dill pickles over the oysters, place the lid on
the loaf, and pop it into the oven to become thoroly (sic) warm.

5 November 1954, Dallas (TX) Morning News, "There are Many Ways to
Prepare Oysters," part 5, pg. 5:
The Oyster Loaf is a unique preparation and illustrates what amounted
to a custom. Oysters have ever been popular in restaurants where
businessmen gather. Many men returning home from the business sections
wished they could take some oyster dish with them.

Some unknown solved this demand with a package which not only made a
heat insulator to keep the oysters warm but also lent a perfect
background to the oysters. The taking home of oyster loaves followed
naturally. In one area the oyster loaf became known as a "peacemaker."
No doubt it was taken home by a tardy husband on occasion to appease a
waiting wife.
Ingredients: One loaf bread, creamed oysters (recipe and amount
below), sliced lemon, melted butter, parsley.
Method: Cut top from loaf of bread, remove center crumbs, leaving a
rim of one inch. Brush loaf and top slice with melted butter inside
and outside. Fill loaf with creamed oysters, cover with top crust and
bake in a moderate oven, 375 degrees F., ten minutes or until
thoroughly heated. Serve on a platter and garnish with slices of
lemon, dipped in parsley. Fried oysters may be used as the filling
instead of creamed oysters.

Ingredients: One pint oysters, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup flour, 3 cups
milk, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/3 teaspoon pepper.
Method: Simmer oysters in their liquor about 5 minutes or until edges
begin to curl. Drain. Melt butter in top of double boiler, blend in
flour, add milk and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add
oysters, seasonings, and heat. Serve in patty shells or on toast.
Serves six.

19 September 1958, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, "Old New Orleans Gives
Us This Tasty Oyster Loaf" by Morrison Wood, pg. B4:
Errant husbands, returning home in the wee hours [and perhaps with a
guilty conscience] would stop for that same toothsome delicacy and
present it as a peace offering to irate wives. It was aptly named "la
mediatrice" [the Peacemaker].

"La mediatrice" of the Creoles is a refined version of an 18th century
English recipe for oyster loaves and is a most savory concoction for
late evening or early morning snacks. Cut off the top... (Same as 1949
article above-ed.)

2 September 1976, Dallas (TX) Morning News, "Oyster Orgy Is Closest
Thing to a Bacchanal," section E, pg. 16:
Slice a loaf of Italian bread lengthwise and remove the soft crumb to
form a shell with the crust.

In a skillet, fry eight slices of bacon until crisp. Remove and drain.
Sprinkle one half-pint of drained, shucked oysters with flour and fry
individually in bacon fat until brown on both sides. Remove and keep
warm. Slice two medium tomatoes and cook in remaining bacon fat until
heated through. Remove and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Layer the bacon, tomatoes and oysters in the bread shell, wrap in
aluminum foil and bake at 350 F. until heated through, about 15 or 20
minutes. Cut the loaf diagonally into slices. Mix a half cup of sour
cream and a teaspoon of horseradish into a sauce and use as a spread.
Serves four. Guaranteed to leave you in a benign frame of mind, at
peace with the world.

30 September 1987, Globe and Mail (Toronto, Canada), "Oysters! Aw,
Shucks!" by Joie Warner, pg. C11:
According to Jane and Michael Stern in their book Real American Food,
the culinary legend of the oyster "po boy" is that it was once known
as la mediatrice, because it was what dallying husbands brought back
to assuage their wives.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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