Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Our local newspaper, the Traverse City Record Eagle, runs a nostalgia feature called 100 Years Ago Today. Lowell from Interlochen called in an item that he found: “After the business meeting held in Northport, the ladies of Delta Phi Delta served refreshments, including punch, wafers, and margaritas.”

We all had a chuckle imagining the ladies sitting in wicker chairs on the front porch, drinks in hand, listening to Jimmy Buffet on the tinny gramophone as a caged parrot chattered in the background. There are dozens of variations based on flavoring, but the basic margarita uses fresh lime juice, tequila, and triple sec.

Ann from Traverse City and Lorraine from Torch Lake called in to set us straight. Ann recalled that in the 1930s, her mother and grandmother would top a cracker with frosting and sprinkled nuts and call it a margarita. Lorraine said that she knew of a cookie called a margarita. This struck everyone as more likely than the drink scenario.

A current recipe for margarita cookies calls for

  • 2 1/1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 grated rind of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp. orange liqueur or 1 tsp. of orange extract.
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ¼ cups confectioners' sugar for decoration
  • 2 tbsp white tequila

My guess is that a recipe from 1910 would not have included liqueur or tequila.

Towards the end of the program, Al from Acme reported on the margarita that he found in an old, unabridged dictionary; it meant a vessel for consecrated hosts. While Al made a great find, I think we’d have to discount any connection to the ladies of Northport with that one. It’s a term used in the Greek Church for the vessel containing the consecrated hosts that were not consumed during the liturgical service.

All of these items, including the female name Margarita or Margaret, owe their existence to a Latin word that means pearl. In turn, that came from a Greek word meaning the same thing.

SIDEBAR: Margaritaville

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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