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sugar apple Options
justina bandol
Posted: Saturday, August 26, 2017 1:55:38 PM
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I am translating The Underground Railway by Colson Whitehead.
Alice is a colored slave cook, and Randall is the family owning the plantation where she lives.

The Randall brothers. Since he was a young boy, James could be placated by a treat from Alice’s kitchen, the sugar apple that cut short a fit or tantrum.

If I look for "sugar apple" on the net, the only references I get are to the fruit. I suspect here it means something else. Am I wrong?
thar
Posted: Saturday, August 26, 2017 3:18:22 PM

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Totally not my area, but my instinct is what US calls candy apple (and others call toffee app!e). Whether anyone called it sugar apple I have no idea.

An apple dipped in hot liquid sugar, basically. Left to cool, forms sugar shell.

I guess there would be apples around, but I see less justification for the boiling sugar - and little justification for having some pre-made around, unless it was a secret stash. It is really sort of funfair food. Not posh family food.


.

But that could be completely wrong.
NKM
Posted: Saturday, August 26, 2017 3:45:25 PM

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I think that, as usual, Thar's instinct can be trusted. Personally, I've never been particularly fond of candy apples, but many people — especially children — love them.

mactoria
Posted: Saturday, August 26, 2017 10:52:55 PM
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I'm not convinced "sugar apple" is a reference to a candy apple. The actual "candy apple" was invented in New Jersey in the early 1900s, long after the scenario referred to in "The Underground Railroad." Red-colored liquid sugar covering an apple is a "sugar apple/candy apple."

There is, as Justina indicated, a fruit referred to as "sugar apple" which is also known as "sweetsop." Though it's been grown and eaten in a lot of parts of the world, especially Asian countries and also South America. It has some popularity in North American Hispanic communities evidently, but most Americans, particularly poor people involved in the Underground Railroad wouldn't have known about it or had access to I'm afraid. Most current day Americans wouldn't know what a real "sugar apple" (aka Cherimoya) is unless they watch a lot of FoodNetwork TV.

So I can't claim to know what exactly the author of "The Underground Railroad" means by the quoted sentence about giving the child a "sweet apple" to quiet him, I just don't think it's either a candy apple or the fruit known as "sugar apple" or sweetsop. It may well mean something else, like a sweet candy, a caramel covered apple (which I couldn't find a date of invention for, so it's possible it existed before the red candy apple was invented), or a toy, as Justina appears to be alluding to, I just can't say for sure.

Finally, while the book may use the term "colored slave cook," use of "colored" today in the United States is offensive.
justina bandol
Posted: Saturday, August 26, 2017 11:25:55 PM
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Thanks everyone for clarifications. I'll have to approximate.

Sorry about "colored". This is actually the biggest challenge of the book during translation - how to render the words referring to the population of African descent. What is interesting is that we have a similar wealth of words to call the Gypsies (our former slaves), and some have actually migrated to also mean "nigger" or "Arab" (my father was a racist), but most aren't really useful here. On the other hand, the Romanian equivalent of "colored" is neutral and unprejudiced.
almo 1
Posted: Saturday, August 26, 2017 11:33:52 PM
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I remember Gene Hackman
biting into a candy apple in a subway car:



The French Connection








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