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Lagniappe The other day, a patient of mine who grew up in Louisiana used a word that was new to me. He described how he ordered take out from his favorite Cajun restaurant for his birthday. The employee on the phone asked if he would like dessert. He declined, saying “It is my birthday; but, I’m watching what I eat right now, so no thank you.” He told me that when he brought his food home and opened the bag, there was a small container of chocolate mousse with a candle in it, and an inscription that read “Happy Birthday.” He said it was a traditional Louisiana lagniappe. He went on to explain to me the concept of a lagniappe as a “little something extra.” According to Wikipedia, a lagniappe is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase (such as a 13th doughnut when buying a dozen) or more broadly, “something given or obtained gratuitously or by way of good measure.” check advance locations The word entered English from the Louisiana French adapting a Quechua word brought in to New Orleans by the Spanish creoles. It derived from the South American Spanish phrase la yapa (referring to a free extra item, usually a very cheap one). The term has been traced back to the Quechua word yapay (‘to increase; to add’). In Andean markets it is still customary to ask for a yapa when making a purchase. The seller usually responds by throwing in a little extra. Although this is an old custom, it is still widely practiced today in Louisiana. Street vendors, especially vegetable vendors, are expected to throw in a few green chilies or a small bunch of cilantro with a purchase. (Wikipedia, again) This word got me thinking […]

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