We picked up one excellent word–a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word–‘lagniappe.’ They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish–so they said. We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a ‘baker’s dozen.’ It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop– or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know–he finishes the operation by saying–
‘Give me something for lagniappe.’
The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor– I don’t know what he gives the governor; support, likely.
When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New Orleans–and you say, ‘What, again?–no, I’ve had enough;’ the other party says, ‘But just this one time more–this is for lagniappe.’ When the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too high, and sees by the young lady’s countenance that the edifice would have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his ‘I beg pardon– no harm intended,’ into the briefer form of ‘Oh, that’s for lagniappe.’ If the waiter in the restaurant stumbles and spills a gill of coffee down the back of your neck, he says ‘For lagniappe, sah,’ and gets you another cup without extra charge.
I got to this from this. tempted to cut and paste the artwork: A Southerner talks music drawing. It’s actually about the inflection, not about music per se.
I have a copy of Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain and hope to re-read it, just as I pulled from my shelves Roughing It. I do think about Life on the Mississippi apropos of environmentalism and the emphasized point of the foolishness of building too close to the banks. Mother nature bats last.
I think this one is a floater:
and our little cultural lagniappe to this post is to say that cover art of that edition of Twain Mississippi reminds of Terry’s teacher Altoon Sultan, who we visited in Vermont in 2011, and her recent paintings, close cut captures of largely industrial things. see here.