If you want to get my dander up, all you have to do is buy a package of puff paste and stick it in my freezer.
I mean, not that I have anything against puff paste - other than I think it's often used as a misguided replacement for pie crust and is better suited to palmiers and vol-au-vents - but um, Good Wives? What the hell is a good wife?
Good: a general term of approval or commendation, meaning "as it should be" or "better than average"
Wife: 1) a woman, 2) a married woman; specif., a woman in her relationship to her husband
I am certainly a better than average woman, but if the puff paste in my freezer is called Good Wives, is that not attempting to replace me? Is that not suggesting that I am not a better than average woman?
Not content with spewing venom at my good husband, I looked up the brand on the intertubes:
In 1979, the two wives who started making these hors d’oeuvres in their homes thought the name "Good Wives" would be appropriate and fun. "Good Wife" was a term applied to a married Puritan woman, implying industry and integrity.
Okay. Puritans. Gauntlet thrown.
Goodwife: a wife or a mistress of a household" or "a title equivalent to Mrs., applied to a woman ranking below a lady
Not content with a mere definition, I moved on to what turned out to be a great book, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Good Wives (Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England 1650 - 1750). Why yes, a scholarly tome about Puritans, but accessible and fascinating. From the preface: "To write about good wives is to write about ideals; to write about goodwives is to write about ordinary women living in a particular place and time."
You know what? Those women had it hard. Housekeeping was arduous, childbearing was dangerous, church going was de rigueur. "A married woman in early New England was simultaneously a housewife, a deputy husband, a consort, a mother, a mistress, a neighbor, and a Christian. On the war-torn frontier, she might also become a heroine". She was powerful, she was burdened. If her ordinary honorific was Goodwife, so be it, and the more power to her.
So I've simmered down, and I'm no longer offended by the poor innocent puff paste. But it took a couple of hundred pages for me to get there.
NOTE: All definitions in italics are from the Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, ©1970