Language

What’s the connection between a chinese takeaway and horse racing?

One obvious connection is that the losers at one end up on the menu at the other; a less obvious one is that I’ve enjoyed both this week. But I’m looking for a linguistic connection.

As I was driving the other night, my diet buddy was reading me the menu from the chinese takeaway: It included phrases like
“…in a garlic and delicious oyster sauce”
“…cooked with lovely oyster sauce”
“Exquisite dish of king prawn…”
“Fried delicious shredded pork…”

Now obviously you’d assume that the people who wrote the menu would want you to think these dishes are special, delicious, lovely, exotic and so on. Yet they add these superlatives to make the menu even more exciting.

The world of horse racing is rather more honest: When you go to the races, you buy a race card, which is a little brochure that tells you which horses are in each race, what colours the jockeys are wearing, and some details of the horses’ backgrounds: There’s also a pithy summary of each horse’s chances. There’s the kind:
“Has every chance today”
“Should do well in this company”
“Worth an each-way bet”

But when they’re honest, they’re very honest…
“Best watched”
“Unlikely to shine”
“Ran green last time”

and our favourite
“Difficult to fancy”

Wouldn’t it be lovely if the menus were written that way?
“To be honest, the chef tries but he’s never got this right”
“…cooked in an insipid sweet and sour sauce…”
“One of our least popular items, and it’s not surprising really”

Well you can dream, can’t you…

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