zzxl | Food (2)


#2 Food in blues songs

In this column: jelly roll, squeeze my lemon, all that meat and no potatoes


A jelly roll is a dessert made of sponge cake that has been spread with jam (or jam mixed with cream) and rolled up into a log, but this is the blues and that's not all it means!
Jelly roll is also one of many evocative culinary euphemisms for female genitals heard in the blues.

Jelly roll
“Jelly” was a popular nickname for bluesmen, especially smooth and flashy types such as pianist Jelly Roll Morton, bassist Jelly Williams, and guitarist Jelly Thompson.
Ferdinand Joseph La Menthe aka Jelly Roll Morton

Shake it don't break it - Charley Patton

Everybody have a jelly roll like mine, I lives in town
I, ain't got no brown, I, an' I want it now
My jelly, my roll, sweet mama, don't let it fall
You can snatch it, you can grab it, you can break it,
You can twist it, any way that I love to get it
I, had my right mind since I, I blowed this town
My jelly, my roll, sweet mama, don't let it fall


Old blues singer code for male masturbation.
The phrase "Squeeze (my lemon) till the juice runs down my leg" appears in Robert Johnson's 1937 song Traveling Riverside Blues". Johnson probably took the lyrics from Arthur McKay's song "She Squeezed My Lemon", recorded earlier that year.

Ham hocks and red beans

She Squeezed My Lemon - Art McKay

Traveling Riverside Blues - Robert Johnson


"All That Meat and No Potatoes" was a phrase used in the 1940s that described a big figured attractive woman with small breasts. Fats Waller liked a female vocalist he was working with, except that she was all that meat and no potatoes. So he wrote a song about it and expressing discontent with cooking that had a lot of meat and no potatoes, as a metaphor for Fats’ feelings towards this woman.

A man works hard then comes on home,
Expects to find stew with that fine ham bone.
He opens the door, then start to lookin',
Says, Woman, what's this stuff you're cookin'?
All that meat and no potatoes
Just ain't right, like green tomatoes.
Here I'm waiting, palpitating,
For all that meat and no potatoes.
I don’t think that peas are bad
With meat most anything goes
Yes, I look into the pot
I’m fit to fight
‘Cause, woman, you know that mess just ain’t right
All that meat and no potatoes

All That Meat and No Potatoes - Fats Waller

Sources: Talkin' to myself: Blues lyrics, Michael Taft, digitalcitizen.ca, federalcigarjugband.com, pancocojams.blogspot.nl, americanbluesscene.com, YouTube, Wikipedia, Hudson Motors Compagny, Archive Minneapolis, The Cruel Plains, M.H.Price a.o., truewestmagazine.com, The Austin Chronicle, Cambridge Free English Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary, TheSaurus.com, dragonjazz.com/grablue/blues_travel, Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture, Blues by Paul Breman, Blues by David Harrison, Quora.com, urbandictionary.com, Blogs.loc.gov, The Ballad Hunter by Alan Lomax, Black Pearls: Blues Queens of the 1920th by Daphne Duval Harrison, jopiepopie.blogspot.nl, redhotjazz.com, The Blues Lyrics Formula by Michael Taft, American Ballads and Folk Songs by Alan Lomax and John Avery Lomax, The Past Is Not Dead: Essays from the  Southern Quarterly by Douglas B. Chambers, EarlyBlues.com, railroad-line.com,  Jason Lee Davis' RailFan Pages , centertruthjustice.org