Friday, February 22, 2013

The Sweetest Cupcakeries: Nora

Nora Cupcakes is one of the 20 best cupcakeries in the country, according to Red Tricycle. If you have tasted their Irish Car Bomb, this won't be a surprise.

Nora is on Main Street north of Rapallo.


Anonymous said...

Irish Car Bomb? Lovely...
I guess there is no Politacal sensitivity there eH?

Karen Swartz said...

This cupcake name sparked a mini-debate a couple months ago on Facebook. I got in touch with the owner of Nora Cupcake and asked her about this directly. She said: "I respect your feelings about the name of the cupcake. I obviously don't mean any disrespect or insult by it. My background has been the bar business (since I was 19). Many of the cupcakes are named after cocktails or popular desserts that I've come across in my life experience of eating and drinking. Irish Car Bombs are a shot of Jameson and Baileys dropped into a half glass of Guinness. That is why I named it that. It is based on the drink, not an act of terrorism. I'm sorry that this name offends you. That is not my intent."

My personal opinion is that it is a delicious cupcake with a terrible name. The fact that it's named after a well-known drink doesn't mean the cupcake needs to retain this name. But still, it's just a cupcake. I wish they'd just call it a chocolate stout cupcake, but it's Nora's prerogative to name it what they like. And while I dislike the name, it won't stop me from buying and eating them.

Jane Harris (TreeFanatic) said...

Among the negative uses of place names, "Irish" seems to catch more than a few: an "Irish beauty" was said to refer to a woman with a black eye, while "Irish twins" were children born less than a year apart. The French and the English both use one another's names to express prejudice, while the Dutch just take it from all sides ("Dutch courage" for example.)

There are probably a lot of names out there that people find offensive, and sometimes we just invent a new name to get around it. One person of my acquaintance likes a Bloody Mary without the vodka, but refuses to order it as a Virgin Mary, as it is sometimes seen on menus.

In South Africa, the Kaffir is a dreadful racial slur, but here it is a common name for a type of lemon.

Jamaica Kincaid, among other things a garden writer, has written extensively about the implicit imperialism of plant explorers giving new names to plants for which the native peoples already had a name.

Scientific nomenclature may be essential for the scientists, but it can be a little shocking when the plant suddenly becomes named for the explorer.

We are so used to names such as Fuchsia or Dahlia that we don't always register the fact that Mr. Fuchs and Mr. Dahl didn't invent those flowers now bearing their names.

The reverse of unpleasant naming is now common with fishmongers: Orange roughy is the market name for a fish known as the slimehead among fishermen. Monkfish became popular after a name change from goosefish or headfish -- probably because even mentioning the ugliest head you've ever seen is a bad idea. And that doesn't even touch on the problem of substitutions such as "farm-raised" salmon for fresh, or horse meat for beef, both much in the news lately.

"What's in a name" can go on and on -- personally, I might avoid a "chocolate stout cupcake" because, among stout's many meanings is "excessively fat." (You have to go all the way down to meaning #5c in the Merriam Webster Unabridged to find this, but the morbidly sensitive know no bounds.)