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Charlotte Daily Dec 20 1898Charlotte Daily, December 20, 1898. Our sapient correspondent Jackie of Finland has pointed out that vender gato como liebre (“selling cats for rabbits”) is a Spanish expression meaning “to pass off a cheap imitation as the genuine article.” I’m trying to figure out whether whether the expression had any currency in English, or whether these apparent cognates are just accidental. Tangentially, what kind of Italian name is “Shamber”? Nicely, it does evoke “shambles,” which originally meant “slaughterhouse.”

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4 Comments

  1. Wow, I’m famous on the Internet! Thanks. :)

    I love the fact that killing the cat isn’t the issue – the investigator killed (and presumably butchered) a cat for comparison purposes. It’s the fraudulent selling of the cat that’s the problem.

    I have a vague memory of watching some food program (probably Rick Stein’s Food Heroes), in which the host interviewed a traditional butcher whose selection still included rabbit. According to the butcher, it’s nearly impossible to distinguish a rabbit carcass from a cat carcass except by looking at the head, feet, and tail. It didn’t occur to me at the time to wonder just how the butcher knew this.

    • Back before the rise of veterinary services and the attendant normalization of spaying and neutering, cats in cities were closer to an invasive species than a breed of house pet. That’s an awful lot of cheap protein slinking around in a human context of deep and widespread poverty. So you’ve got to wonder how much of this cats-as-rabbits trade was going on undetected.

  2. Been a while since we heard from an Italian feller.And in what way was the tom-cat “old fashioned”?

    • Like unto people used to eat in the good old days?


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