Thanks, Agatha: Another food word that’s new to me

In the category of “food words I’ve never heard of,” I have another entry: chota peg.

Yes, I’ve been reading British mystery novels again, Agatha Christie’s “N or M?” to be exact, and came across it here:

“… you go abroad and buy and sell in the British Empire and come back bronzed and full of clichés, talking about the natives and calling for Chota Pegs and all that sort of thing.”

“Chota Pegs”? What the heck?

To the Internet! Which of course, was all over this phrase (and yes, there’s more than one specialized Web pages devoted to the coinages created by the British in India).

— From :

“Chota (India) Small. Used as an adjective, e.g.: chota bungalow, chota peg, chota Sahib.”

— And according to, “peg” in British parlance is a standard size of alcoholic drink. A pitcher was marked by wooden nails called pegs or pins in 17th-18th century Great Britain, and a “peg” usually marked an individual quantity of drink.

Here’s a citation from

British: drink.  “poured himself out a stiff peg” — Dorothy Sayers

And more on the peg at

“This measure was later adopted to make individual whiskey/brandy containers during the Raj that measured about 2 ounces (about 60 ml). A chota peg was half the size, about an ounce or 30 ml. ‘Chota’ is the Indian word for ‘small,’ hence a ‘chota peg’ — or a small drink.”

“Chota” for small was used to describe other small things, such as tents or houses. But Christie, among others, picked up on “chota peg” and immortalized it in her writing. And thanks to those Internets, such turns of phrase are much more easily explained.

I don’t see a big renaissance coming for “chota peg,” but should you wish to call for a short shot once the sun comes over the yardarm, well, now it’s there for you to employ. Enjoy!


One thought on “Thanks, Agatha: Another food word that’s new to me

  1. Thought you’d appreciate this. Was in an Amish town in Western Pennsylvania recently and Jerry’s brother ordered this giant cod sandwich for which the restaurant is known. Biggest one I ever saw. Yes, he ate the whole thing.

    Just returned from NYC and the Hudson Valley. The latter so beautiful – and COOL (NYC has it’s own charms) And boy do they go all out for autumn/Halloween. Fun to see.

    Finally starting to feel good again after broken arm (fractured in three places). Honestly, it was worse than chemo. Just have to work on range of motion now.

    Hope all is well in the Groch household. Best to Greg


    E’Louise Ondash Health, medicine and travel writer 760.724.2277 760.519.6903 – C

    Sent from my iPad



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