Sunday, 8 April 2007

Lo! buffalo in the buff

Hols at the parents' new alpine chalet proceed apace.

Family Wool Spaniel, Bernhilde and I made a valiant ascent of Mount Buffalo today. Mount Buffalo was disappointingly devoid of buffalo. This being high buffalo season, and buffalo being notoriously bad at hiding, I can only suppose the government has rounded the Mount Buffalo buffalo up and relocated the Mount Buffalo buffalo to somewhere that is not Mount Buffalo. I'll be writing a letter of complaint to the premier down here, Steve Whatshisname, just as soon as I return to Hôtel Harlot and my fancy stationery.

Speaking of buffalo, I've often wondered about the etymology of that hideous adjective, "buff", as used to describe the gentleperson who spends far too much of God's precious time recreationally lifting heavy things - cabers, beagles, volkswagons - with an eye to bicep augmentation. For some years I laboured under the misapprehension that "buff" referred to the colour of bare skin, a colour shared with many manila folders. As many human skins do not correspond with the colour of many manila folders, I found this unsatisfactory indeed. Further reflection suggested that "buff" may have evolved from "boeuf", Parisian for "beef", on account of how a "buff" gent somehow resembles a slab of steak. For various reasons - no need to spell 'em out - I found this version even less satisfactory. Today, wrestling my way up Mount Buffalo, grappling with boulders, struggling with crampons (okay, no crampons, but there was definitely struggling), I felt health and vigour, a raw animal strength, coursing through my veins. Were climbing Mount Buffalo to feature in my daily ablutions, there is no doubt: I would either die very quickly, or I would become, yes, buff. And so, reader, I bring to you to the latest in my speculative etymologies for "buff", a word that obviously derives from buffalo, as in Mount Buffalo, as in, climb it often enough and lo! thou willt grow wiry and sinuous and strong.

Not, of course, that this blog endorses wire, sinew or strength over any of the other humanly virtues, such as aptitude in knitting, knowledge of the Danish national anthem, or skill in beagle husbandry.

13 comments:

Karen said...

I think Mt. Buffalo is the mountain one can see from my aunt's window, but my geography may be slightly askew. It looked to be an impressive climb.
When I hear "buff" I always think of "buffing" or cleaning a surface. Wish I could think of something cleverer to say, but I've had too much chocolate and need a nap.

alexis said...

Ah, too much chocolate. I hears you, lady. Where does your aunt live? You can see Mt B from most places in North Eastern Victoria. I'll put up some photos once I've returned to home turf and its broadband.

Karen said...

Wangaratta. That's right, isn't it? So this means that you are in the vicinity of some very nice wineries, if you wish to be less healthy. You put me to shame- you go mountaineering and I have chocolate for dinner! Later on the Lindt chocolate bunny high kicked in with a terrifying rush of hyperactivity. Have you had any this year? It's like eating an entire bag of Haigh's frogs! And I've still got a dark chocolate one on my bookshelf- I think I may have to strap cushions to my elbows and knees in preparation!

TimT said...

If there were any justice in this world, 'Buff' would be spelled 'Bough', but that's already taken.

I've just come out of legendary St Kilda restaurant Scherezade, where I've dined on a meal of boiled Jewish frankfurts that are cold, sauerkraut that isn't very sour, and an Italian candied desert that came straight out of a cardboard box. The people are nice, though, and their Borscht is excellent.

If there were any justice in this world, the cook at Scherezade would be called 'Horscht', so people could go in there and order 'Horscht's Borscht'.

Karen said...

That's the restaurant in that Arnold Zable book, isn't it? I would have to go in just for the name alone, although the Borscht would certainly be a temptation too.

TimT said...

It probably is, the place is pretty much legendary. One of the first meals I ever had there was their whopping ginormous great big veal schnitzel. Basically, they cook the whopping ginormous great big veal schnitzel and dump it on a whopping ginormous great big plate, on top of rice that has been over-cooked to billyo and some potatoes. They also give you a side dish of sauerkraut and a basket of rye bread with butter.

I actually managed to finish it all off, much to the surprise of myself and all the staff present.

Karen said...

I fear rampant carnivorism is probably not the thing to talk about here! It certainly sounds like a glorious place, although I don't eat veal on account of the way it is produced. Someone told me about a Russian restaurant in Surry Hills and you're reminding me that I haven't been there yet.

I never cease to be amazed by how much men can eat! My friend is like that- only he then reaches over to finish mine as well!

emmy said...

there prolly is connection 'tween buff and buffalo. as in the colour the buffalo's skin goes once it's dead and sewn into a settee. cf buff 'leather'. sorry.

alexis said...

Karen, where I come from, the lasses can put away just as much sauerkraut as the chaps, and they do so proudly. We've a family of buxom wenches. It's all a matter of practice.

Tim, it's lovely of you to share your gastronomic adventures, but schnitzel and I have ideological difficulties. Am all in favour of dessert à la cardboard box, though.

Thanks, Em.

alexis said...

Karen, got so derailed by your observations on the masculine stomach that I forgot to confirm that, yes, Mt B. is visible from Wangaratta, which is approx. 50 minutes by automobile from Bright. Lots of wineries thereabouts, and other facilitators of gluttony.

I've had my fair share of Lindt this Easter. Less than in years of yore, unfortunately. More power to the cocoa bean, I say.

Karen said...

Oh, I don't mean to suggest for one moment that the lasses shouldn't be able to eat like the men! I've just always had a disappointingly slight appetite- and I eat very slowly. Perhaps some training is in order.

alexis said...

I'm not one to slight a slight appetite. No need to reform.

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