lost expressions

One of you told me she hadn't heard of paying a penny in exchange for a sharp blade (as a gift) in order not to cut the friendship .  Okay, do you know the superstition, shoes on a table, hat on a bed? Both are feared to bring bad luck. The musical "Blood Brothers" by Willie Russell ("Educating Rita"), is based on the 19th century novel, "The Corsican Brothers" (1844) by Alexandre Dumas, père , (1802-1870).  I won't go into the story, only that a foreshadowing of the end occurs when shoes are put on a table. 

I'm talking about lost expressions, and words that no longer have any meaning or relevance today, like all the poor, missing pennies no longer spent on thoughts. This isn't a superstition but an expression I have discovered that few people are familiar with: drugstore wrap.  Do you know that one?  I used it in my cookbooks when I called for fish en papillote to be encased in a drugstore wrap. You bring the paper generously above the fish, fold it on itself a couple of times and tuck it in at the ends.  No leaks.  Do you know a butcher's wrap? The meat is rolled over and over in the  paper several times before being secured - with a string? Do they still have string? Again, no leaks.

All this is hard to write without illustrations or hands on.  I remember a writing assignment: describe an accordion and how it works.  And I added one: describe how to fold a contour sheet. When those sheets were first introduced, a little page of folding instructions came with each one. I remember reading of a wannabe writer who attended a creative writing class who got so good at describing and explaining how things worked that he got a permanent job doing that.  It's not easy. Read the instructions on a Jello package and see if you could do better. My mother told me of a friend who bought a rival, cheaper version of Jello and who found a little gumdrop in the package and ate it while she stirred and later wondered why the dessert was tasteless.  The instructions had failed to tell her how to use the flavour bud.

Well, now, this is a long way from our long-gone pennies, isn't it?  But the message is, you have to understand what you're doing, or at least, what I'm doing.