Origin of Ya-Ya
Re: Julia Street column (and Music column, by Jason Berry). August 2011 issue
I just got my August edition of New Orleans Magazine in the mail today! It being my favorite section, I open it to Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot. While reading through the Q&A, I noticed a question from Cathy Fredrick in Metairie. She asks, “Dear Julia, Do you know the origin of the expression “ya ya?”
In addition to Julia’s explanation of “crosstalk,” I am familiar with another interpretation of yaya. According to The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine, by Chef John D. Folse CEC, AAC:
It is probable that paella is the forerunner of one of Louisiana’s most famous dishes, jambalaya … the Creole name jambalaya is derived from the French word for ham, jambon, and the African word for rice, yaya … In the early 1700s, Spanish settlers in New Orleans brought their famous paella. Since the traditional Spanish ingredients for paella were not found in South Louisiana, the recipe was adapted to indigenous ingredients. Oysters and crawfish replaced clams and mussels, and fresh pork or andouille took the placed of cured ham. The French later named the dish Jambon à la Yaya, meaning ham with rice. The new dish was influenced by many different cultures, including the Africans who contributed their rice, or yaya, to jambalaya.
In my opinion, The Encyclopedia does a great job of documenting immigration and the formulation of the great city of New Orleans and her surrounding areas. There are several contributors to the book, including some fantastic images. So, I felt obliged to pass on what I’ve learned there … since I’ve learned so much from Julia and Poydras.
P.S. I really enjoyed Jason Berry’s “Hello Satchmo” article.
ED RESPONSE: Most of the early slaves brought to Louisiana were from the area now known as Senegal. One tribe in particular, the Bambara, were particularly skilled at growing rice, among other crops, and knew how to turn swamps into rice paddies. Their connection to the origin of the term “ya-ya” is intriguing, though we weren’t able to find evidence of the use of that term or a variation by the Senegalese. The term, however, might have been easily lost with displacement. The theory seems to be on the right track, but more research is encouraged.
Poor Boy, Not Po-Boy
Re: Letter to the Editor by Gerald A. Maillian of Tupelo, Miss. August 2011 issue.
Thanks to Mr. Maillian for making the distinction between poor boy and po-boy. Where did po-boy come from? I despise the phrase. I would be pleased if it were never used. I also noticed that he knows the Central Grocery makes muffulettas and not muffulattas.
ED RESPONSE: We agree fully with Mr. Sehrt. This magazine’s official style is to use the term “poor boy” and not “po-boy.” We also spell muffuletta with a “U” in the middle and not an “a” as sometime appears. Fending off the word “po-boy” might be a lost cause, especially since there is now a festival that uses that name, but we will stand firm.
Interest in Matters
Re: “Two Matters of Interest: Alcohol and You, and Alcohol and Shipping,” Happy Hour blog, Aug. 25, 2011, by Tim McNally; and New Orleans Magazine.
Though I have dropped many subscriptions, I continue to enjoy New Orleans Magazine and my daily email. It includes interesting topics, such as the story on the rising alcohol content in wine. Your publication goes beyond promotional stories (which I also enjoy) making your magazine relevant to me as a resident of Shreveport and frequent New Orleans visitor.
ED RESPONSE: We’re always glad to be of use to our brother Shreveporters.
Re: “Benefits From Bees: Sleuthing the medicinal value of honey,” Health column by Brobson Lutz M.D. July 2011 issue.
In regard to Dr. Lutz’s article on honey in the July issue:
I had a small wound on a toe from it rubbing against another toe. The podiatrist had a home health nurse dress the wound three times a week using silk dressing. This went on for months with no healing. As a last resort, the doctor prescribed “medihoney,” a tube of what looked like a granulated honey. In about two or three weeks the wound was healed.
Seeing is believing.
(Katrina evacuee, former New Orleanian)
ED RESPONSE: We believe.
Re: “Best Doctors: 580 listings in 73 specialty areas.” August 2011 issue. “Crowning Achievements: 178 top dentists in 8 specialties as selected by their peers.” June 2011 issue.
Over the last few months, New Orleans Magazine has changed my life – really. It started with your feature story of the area’s best dental practitioners and then last month’s feature story of the area’s best doctors.
I’m new to the area and I had visited a lousy dentist and two lousy doctors earlier this year. After referring to the articles mentioned above and seeing which of these doctors accepted my medical insurance, I have found a superb dentist, an incredible family doctor and a caring gynecologist. It’s like I received an anonymous gift!
I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for helping make my life better.
ED. RESPONSE: Thank you. We consider our presentation of medical lists among the most important things we do and take it quite seriously. We appreciate your response. It was a good tonic for our morale.