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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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hash a term which has greater use in N. America than in Britain. It comes from the French hacher, meaning ‘to chop’, and entered the English language in the 17th century. Mariani (1994) remarks that it was found in America soon thereafter as a ‘form of shepherd’s pie or other melange of meat and vegetables’. This remains its general meaning. It has often had a derogatory sense, thus explained by Mariani:

By the middle of the nineteenth century hash became associated with cheap restaurants called ‘hash houses’ or ‘hasheries’ (an 1850 menu from the Eldorado Hotel in Hangtown, California, lists ‘Low Grade Hash’ for seventy-five cents and ‘18 Carets Hash’ for a dollar) and the workers in such places were called ‘hash slingers’. By the turn of the century ‘corned beef hash’ was being ordered, sometimes called ‘cornbeef Willie.’