A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 28, 2018
Calas ("Belle Calas! Tout chauds!")

"Calas” (often said in this plural) are Creole fried cakes, usually made of rice. The name is thought to be from the African word kala (stalk of cereal).

“Belle Calas! Tout chauds! tout chauds!” ("Beautiful calas! Very hot!") was a popular morning chant in the French quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the 1800s. “Calas a a a! tous chauds, tous chauds” was cited in newspapers in 1824.


Merriam-Webster Dictionary
cala
Definition of cala
plural -s
: a Creole fried cake made mainly of rice
Origin and Etymology of cala
of African origin; akin to Vai ko1lo3 uncooked rice, Bambara kala stalk of a cereal

Wikipedia: Calas (food)
The origin of calas is most often credited to slaves who came from rice-growing regions of Africa. A 1653 French recipe, beignets de riz, lends support to a French origin as well. The name “calas” is said to have come from the Nupe word kara ("fried cake") According to The Dictionary of American Food & Drink, the word calas was first printed in 1880.

9 October 1824, Salem (MA) Observer, “Varieties,” pg. 4, col. 1:
18 October 1824, Vermont Journal (Windsor, VT), pg. 4, col. 4:
Force of Habit. A wench, who had long been employed in vending hot cakes, and whose melodious voice was tutored in all those harmonious intonations, in which the cries of our marchandes de comestibles are chaunted forth, was sent, the other day to the cemetery, with the body of a still born babe, duly cased up in a coffin. She carried it some distance, very discreetly, under her arm, but fancying it more convenient to tote it, at last placed it on the common block and prop of her burden—her head. The brain feeling its accustomed pressure, by a very natural association of ideas, she soon conceived that she was engaged in her ordinary vocation, and forgetting her unwanted freight, and her solemn errand,she began to bawl out, lustily, calas a a a! tous chauds, tous chauds—till arrested in her progress, and brought to recollection of her more melancholy duty, by a benevolent citizen.—Louisiana Adv.

9 November 1873, Le Carillon (New Orleans, LA), pg. 3, col. 2:
Cesar jeta les yeaux ur une delicieuse marchande de calas, que sa mere avait vouee a Ste-Francoese, ce qui devait lui porter bonheur.

Chronicling America
10 November 1877, Le Louisianais (Convent, LA), pg. 1, col. 2:
Mais si nous terminons en disant que la Nouvelle-Orleans des boutiquiers, des marchands, des negociants, des couritrs, du sucre, du coton, de la melasse et des calas tout chauds, ...

6 December 1879, The Daily City Item (New Orleans, LA), pg. 2, col. 2:
There is a little creole woman who parades the French quarter selling little cakes to the cry of “calas tout haud—calas tout chaud.’ [We cannot answr for the orthigraphy of “calas,” but we have written it phonetically according to French pronunciation.] She utters her cry in a curious way, like the gobbling of a turkey; and naughty little boys follow her, re-echoing calas tout chaud, with screams of laughter. A wicked parrot on Royal street takes off the poor woman admirably, and the boys still better. He waddles to the door, cried calas tout chaud with a satirical intonation of the gobbling sound, and then gives vent to shrieks of ironical laughter. The moral is that naughty boys are no better than parrots.

Google Books
January 1880, Scribner’s Monthly, pg. 369:
THE GRANDISSIMES.
A STORY OF CREOLE LIFE.
By GEORGE W. CABLE, author of “Old Creole Days.”
Pg. 374:
“I sell de calas; mawnin’s sell calas, evenin’s sell zinzer-cake. You know me” (a fact which Joseph had all along been aware of) “Dat me w’at pass in rue Royale ev’y mawnin’ holl’in’ ’Be calas touts chauds.’ an singin’; don’t you know?”

Google Books
New Orleans:
The Place and the People

By Grace Elizabeth King
New York, NY: The Macmillan Company
1895
Pg. 264:
“Bons petits calas!” “Tout chauds! Tout chauds!”

Google Books
The Picayune’s Guide to New Orleans (Sixth Edition)
New Orleans, LA: The Picayune
1904
Pg. 70:
Of a morning the French Quarter is alive with the cries of the vendors, “Belle Calas! Tout chauds! tout chauds! “Belle Fromage,” “Belle Chaurice,” indicating, first, a species of coffee cake called calas, which are “hot! hot!” and again “Cream cheese,” and still again, a species of sausage very much liked by the children and called the the old Creole negresses, “Chaurice.”

Google Books
Gumbo Ya-Ya:
Folk Tales Of Louisiana

By Lyle Saxon, Edward Dreyer and Robert Tallant
Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.
1987
Pg. ?:
THE BREAD AND CAKE VENDORS
The most famous of these were the cala vendors. A cala is a pastry which originated among Creole Negroes—a thin fritter made with rice and yeast sponge. Creoles did not have the prepared yeast cakes sold today, so yeast was concocted the night before, of boiled potatoes, corn meal, flour and cooking soda, left in the night air to ferment, then mixed with boiled rice and made into a sponge. The next morning flour, eggs, butter and milk were added, a stiff batter mixed, and the calas formed by dropping spoonfuls into a skillet.

Belles calas, Madam! Tout chauds, Madame! Two cents!’ thus called the cala vendors for years.

NPR—The Salt
Meet The Calas, A New Orleans Tradition That Helped Free Slaves
February 12, 2013 11:30 AM ET
MARIA GODOY
(...)
Scholars think slaves from rice-growing parts of Africa probably brought calas to Louisiana. Some trace calas to Ghana, others, to Liberia and Sierra Leone. In the 1700s, during the days of French rule, slaves were given one day off each week, usually Sundays. And so after church, African women would roam the streets of the French Quarter touting their wares with the chant “Belle Calas! Tout chauds!” — “Beautiful calas! Very hot!”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, May 28, 2018 • Permalink