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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from December 17, 2007

Ambrosia (Greek for “not mortal”) is the food of the immortals or “food of the gods.” Ambrosia is also the name for a Southern dish that resembles a fruit cup. The origins of the dish are unknown, but it dates from at least the 1860s.
Early recipes for Ambrosia include oranges, coconut, and sugar. Pineapples, peaches, and marshmallows are added to later recipes (from the early 1900s).  Some early Ambrosia recipes include wine; a Texas recipe (below) includes a shot of tequila.
Wikipedia: Ambrosia
In ancient Greek mythology, Ambrosia (Ancient Greek: ἀμβροσία) is sometimes the food, sometimes the drink, of the gods, often depicted as conferring immortality on whoever consumes it.

Ambrosia is very closely related to the gods’ other form of sustenance, nectar. The two terms may not have originally been distinguished, though in Homer’s poems and later works, nectar is the drink and ambrosia the food. On the other hand, in Alcman, nectar is the food, and in Sappho and Anaxandrides, ambrosia is the drink. Both are fragrant, and may be used as perfume.
The word has generally been derived from Greek a- (“not”) and mbrotos (“mortal”); hence the food or drink of the immortals.
(Oxford English Dictionary)
1. a. In Greek mythology, The fabled food of the gods and immortals (as in Homer, etc.).
1590 T. WATSON Poems (1870) 169 Now Melibus..drinkes Nectar, eates diuine Ambrosia.
b. fig.
1610 G. FLETCHER Christ’s Vict. II. xxix, But he upon ambrosia daily fed, That grew in Eden. 
2. The fabled drink of the gods (as in Sappho, etc.).
1567 J. MAPLET Greene Forest Ded., Whose bread is Nectar, and drink Ambrosia, a sugred and confect kinde of Wine. 
3. The fabled unguent or anointing oil of the gods; also fig.
1667 MILTON P.L. v. 57 His dewie locks distill’d Ambrosia. 1718 POPE Iliad XIX. 375 And pour’d divine ambrosia in his breast.
4. transf. A mixture of water, oil, and various fruits anciently used as a libation; also a perfumed draught or flavoured beverage.
1685 Gracian’s Courtier’s Orac. 201 Waters, which..smell of Physick, and they call them Ambrosia. 
5. fig. Something divinely sweet or exquisitely delightful to taste or smell.
1731 SWIFT Streph. & Chloe Wks. 1755 IV. I. 152 Venus-like her fragrant skin Exhal’d ambrosia from within.
Wikipedia: Ambrosia (fruit salad)
Ambrosia is a variation on the traditional fruit salad. It contains sour cream, sweetened whipped cream (or whipped topping), pineapple, mandarin oranges and coconut. Some versions also contain bananas or strawberries or miniature marshmallows.
It is most common in the American south, and dates back to the 19th century in America. Ambrosia is mentioned in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and the movie Edward Scissorhands.
About.com: San Antonio
Ambrosia Salad - A South Texas Favorite
From Kori Ellis
This delightful fruit salad with mini-marshmellows is sure to be a hit on your San Antonio Thanksgiving table. The lime juice and tequila give this traditional salad a Texas twist.
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large navel oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cups pineapple chunks
2 bananas, sliced
1 cup maraschino cherries
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 shot of tequila
1 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (...)
(Dictionary of American Regional English)
ambrosia n
A dessert containing oranges and shredded coconut, sometimes nuts and other fruit. chiefly Sth
1932 (1946) Hibben Amer. Regional Cookery 262 MS, Ambrosia...6y large oranges..sugar..2 cups grated cocoanut.
1941 Percy Lanterns 29 MS, Imagine ice-cream and pudding, ambrosia and pie.
1942 Rawlings Cross Creek Cookery 195 FL.
1964 Amer. Heritage Cookbook 565, Ambrosia..is familiarly known to Americans as a combination of oranges and coconut—a very popular dessert in the South. In some sections it is traditionally served for Christmas dinner.
Google Books
The Housekeeper’s Encyclopedia
by Mrs. E. F. Haskell
New York, NY: D. Appleton and Company
Pg. 417:
AMBROSIA.—Grate cocoanut, and mix it with powdered loaf-sugar to suit the taste; slice sweet oranges and sift over them powdered loaf-sugar, fill a fancy glass, dish with layers of the oranges and cocoa, heaping the dish with the cocoa.
2 June 1876, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 6, col. 1:
The college temple girls are fond of pork and beans, buttermilk, ice cream and ambrosia.
Feeding America
Buckeye Cookery, And Practical Housekeeping:
Compiled From Original Recipes
by Estelle Woods Wilcox
Minneapolis, MN.: Buckeye Pub. Co.
Pg. 135:
Six sweet oranges, peeled and sliced (seeds and as much of the core as possible taken out), one pine-apple peeled and sliced (the canned is equally good), and one large cocoa-nut grated; alternate the layers of orange and pine-apple with grated cocoa-nut, and sprinkle pulverized sugar over each layer. Or, use six oranges, six lemons and two cocoa-nuts, or only oranges and cocoa-nuts, prepared as above.—Mrs. Theo. Brown.
Feeding America
Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving
By Mary Newton Foote Henderson
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers
Pg. 286:
Slice peeled oranges. Make alternate layers of orange slices, sugar, and grated cocoa-nut, until a glass dish is filled, having grated cocoa-nut on top; now pour a little sherry wine over the top, to run through the mixtures. It is as often served without the wine.
Google Books
The Dinner Year-Book
by Marion Harland
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
Pg. 212:
8 fine oranges, peeled and sliced.
1/2 grated cocoanut.
1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Arrange slices of orange in a glass dish; scatter grated cocoanut thickly over them; sprinkle this lightly with sugar, and cover with another layer of orange. Fill the dish in this order, having a double quantity of cocoanut and sugar at top. Serve soon after it is prepared.
Google Books
Housekeeping in Old Virginia
edited by Marion Cabell Tyree
Louisville, KY: John P. Morton and Company
Pg. 442:
Pare and slice as many oranges as you choose, in a glass bowl. Sprinkle sugar and grated cocoanut over each layer.—Mrs. W. C. R.
Cut pineapple and orange in slices, sprinkle with sugar, and put in a deep dish alternately to form a pyramid. Put grated cocoanut between each layer. If you like, pour good Madeira or sherry wine over the dish.—Mrs. T.
13 September 1879, Harper’s Bazar, pg. 591, col. 4:
AMBROSIA.—Spread in a glass dish a layer of grated cocoa-nut and sugar, then a layer of peeled oranges sliced thin, and so on alternatively until the bowl is full. The top layer is of the cocoa-nut and sugar. Let it be made several hours before serving it up. The precise proportions are difficult to give, as the amount of sugar required must vary according to the flavor and sweetness of the oranges.  A generous allowance of sugar, however, ought to be made—say, one pound and a quarter to one dozen fine juicy oranges, and the meat of one fair-sized cocoa-nut.
Feeding America
La Cuisine Creole:
A Collection of Culinary Recipes, From Leading Chefs and Noted Creole Housewives, Who Have Made New Orleans Famous for its Cuisine
By Lafcadio Hearn
New Orleans, LA: F.F. Hansell & Bro., Ltd.
Pg. 185:
This is a pretty dessert or supper dish. You require a cocoanut and six oranges or a pineapple. Grate the cocoanut, and slice the oranges or pineapple; then in a glass dish lay a layer of fruit, and a layer of the grated cocoanut, until your bowl is full. Strew powdered sugar over each layer of fruit, and on the top, and it is ready. 
Feeding America
Miss Corson’s Practical American Cookery and Household Management
by Juliet Corson
New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Co.
Pg. 565:
Pare and grate a pineapple as directed in the recipe for iced pineapple; peel half a dozen large Florida oranges, and tear their pulp away from the inner membranes, rejecting the seeds, and preserving all the juice; remove the shell and brown skin from a cocoanut, and grate it, saving the milk; put the pineapple, orange, and cocoanut in layers in a glass dish, slightly sprinkling each layer with powdered sugar; mix with the milk of the cocoanut any of the pineapple and orange juice which may remain in the dishes in which they have been pressed, add to them a glass of Jamaica rum, and as much sugar as will sweeten them moderately; keep the sirup thus made, and the ambrosia, in a very cold place until it is wanted for the table; then pour the sirup over the ambrosia, and serve it at once.
Ambrosia is best when freshly prepared.
Feeding America
Aunt Babette’s Cook Book:
Foreign and domestic receipts for the household: A vaulable collection of receipts and hints for the housewife, many of which are not to be found elsewhere.
By “Aunt Babette”
Cincinnati, OH: Block Pub. and Print Co.
Pg. 422:
Take eight or nine sweet oranges, peel them, take out the seeds after cutting into slices. Take a large-sized fresh cocoanut, grate it and then put alternate layers of the oranges and cocoanut in a glass dish, and sprinkle pulverized sugar over each layer of cocoanut and orange.
The Steward’s Handbook and Guide to Party Catering
by Jessup Whitehead
Chicago, IL: J. Anderson & Co.
Pg. 233, col. 1:
AMBROSIA—Literally food for the gods; a bowl of sliced oranges and pineapples, grated cocoanut, sugar and wine.
29 March 1919, Grand Forks (ND) Herald, pg. 7:
One cup canned pineapple, 1 cup canned peaches, one cup orange, 1/2 cup shredded cocoanut, 1/2 cup marshmallow topping.
Cut orange, pineapple and peaches in cubes and chill. Mix the fruits and place in stem glass dish, add a small amount of fruit juice to each, sprinkle with cocoanut, and top with whipped marshmallow topping.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • Monday, December 17, 2007 • Permalink

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