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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Hello,

Tongues have been on my mind this week, as my own has been suffering from some ill-health. In browsing for a new word to explore I strayed across umami. A word that yummy to pronounce (listen here) has to be enjoyed on Wordfoolery.

Tickling tastebuds with tortellini bake

What is umami? It is one of the five basic tastes our tongues can detect – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. Umami’s flavour is described as meaty or brothy although it is not exclusive to meat dishes. You’ll find it in mushrooms and seaweeds too. It was scientifically discovered in 1908 but had been used in cookery for hundreds of years prior. It’s even present in breast milk.

Umami is a loanword from Japanese. It translates as “a pleasant savoury taste” and is formed from the words umai  (delicious) and mi (taste).

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

p.s. welcome to my new readers – always a pleasure to meet new wordfools!

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Hello,

This week’s word is forage. I was chatting about hedgerow harvesting this morning with Scout friends (it’s part of our Backwoods badge) and then couldn’t resist thoughts of foraging while walking. When I returned home I pulled out recipes for gorse wine and hawthorn blossom liquer. Foraging is addictive.

Hedgerow jam – damson & blackberry

Foraging entered the English language c. 1200s from Latin. Foragium was the Anglo-Latin word for fodder or food for horses and cattle. Around the same time it was in Old French as fourrage or fuerre which meant hay or straw, typically for animals. Frankish and old German had fuotar, fodr and fodr which all related to fodder or food.

Nettle soup anyone?

By the 1400s the word had moved on in meaning and related to plundering or pillaging. By the late 1400s that had changed to encompass the idea of roving around in search of provisions. From the 1700s onwards the notion had acquired a military twist. Foraging for provisions for the army’s beasts and soldiers was a vital skill when moving through the countryside. Those with the ability to live off the land were more likely to survive a campaign.

Plantain or Whitefoot – perfect for nettle stings

Luckily I don’t have to feed an army, although my teenage son gives me some insight into that particular challenge, but I love being able to use the environment around me to vary my diet and continue local traditions and folklore. Each year I add one or two new items to my foraging menu. If you’re interested there are great resources on Pinterest (you’ll find me and my foraging board there as GraceTierneyIRL) and the book “Wild and Free Cooking from Nature” by Cyril and Kit Ó’Céirín is a great starting point if you’re foraging in Ireland or the UK. There’s so much more out there than a few blackberries in the autumn.

Primrose – edible flower

Until next time happy reading, writing, wordfooling, and foraging,

Grace

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hazelnutsHello,

This week’s word is squirrel. They have been on my mind this week as I beheld my tiny hazelnut harvest (pictured left) and muttered darkly about “bushy-tailed urban criminals”.

I grow fruit, vegetables and herbs for my family’s table. I planned my garden to be productive, including as many native plants as I could. This involved me planting a hazelnut tree in my front garden. I researched it in the hope I could get hazelnuts (my favourite nut) but the books all said to plant at least three together if you wanted nuts and I didn’t have the space, so I selected a contorted hazel with curled stems that looks great in winter and an unholy mess in the summer.

We wind lights around it at Christmas and during the unwinding process one January I was stunned to find a scattering of hazels on the (hazelnut coloured) gravel beneath. I shouldn’t have been shocked. As I explored the lanes around our village I noticed other bushes in gardens and the motorway embankment is planted with native trees, including hazels.

Contorted hazel covered in ice

Contorted hazel covered in ice

I came to depend on a small hazelnut harvest each Christmas, growing as the tree grew in size. Not this year. This year it has halved and many of the nuts show signs of attack by tiny claws. I’m blaming the squirrels. There’s a healthy population of red squirrels in old woodlands nearby and I’ve spotted one clinging to the wall of my neighbour’s house. I’m all for squirrels and I’m happy to support our native reds over invasive grey squirrels any day but do they have to eat my hazelnuts?

Squirrels have been with us for some time (about 36 million years according to the fossil record) and they get everywhere, not just at my hazel tree. The word entered the English language  in the early 1300s. It came from the Anglo-French word esquirel. That came from the Old French word escurueil which was used for the beast or its fur (perhaps culled by angry nuttery owners). It came from scurius and sciurus in Vulgar Latin and Latin but it’s when we reach Greek that the fun starts.

The Latin words came from the Greek word skiouros which is formed from skia (shadow) and oura (tail or backside) with the idea being that the squirrel was a beast whose tail cast a shadow. I have a vision of ancient Greek squirrels using their tails to shade themselves from the relentless Greek sunshine, probably while nibbling on stolen hazelnuts.

Until next time remember to share the hazelnuts, the squirrels need them too,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

 

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Hello,

I’m not entirely sure how I got onto the topic (possibly thanks to a visit to Sheridan’s Cheese mongers in Carnaross) but I found myself  trying to explain what a monger was to my offspring this week, and failing. I mean, does a monger merely sell a product and, if so, what is a coster monger selling? If a fish monger sells fish, then why isn’t a butcher called a meat monger? Plus, I think I prefer cheese-wrangler as a term – like an animal wrangler on a movie set. I have a mental image of a woman in an apron wielding a cheese slicer and herding naughty rounds of brie and stilton into their paddocks.

So I had a look around the dictionaries and discovered that the term monger (pronounced to rhyme with hunger) denotes somebody who peddles or deals in a commodity for example an ale monger sells beer. Mongering is also a verb (dating from 12th century) and the combined form as a noun denoting a seller of something dates from the 1860s. Its origins lie in Greek, via Latin and Old English, and relate to charming somebody, which I suppose is part of the charisma of a good monger.

A monger in 1790 was also a small merchant vessel, a sea ship presumably used by small traders or mongers.

I then had a look around some of the more common mongers. Fish mongers sell fish, of course. An iron monger sells hardware items like tools and household implements. A coster monger sells items, especially fruit and vegetables, from a handcart in the street.

"Molly Malone 073007" by Wilson44691 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Molly_Malone_073007.JPG#/media/File:Molly_Malone_073007.JPG

“Molly Malone 073007” by Wilson44691 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Molly Malone (of Dublin fame) was a coster monger selling cockles and mussels and her fellow coster mongers can still be found today on Moore Street in Dublin selling vegetables and fruit. Why coster? A costard was a cooking apple.

Mongering can have negative connotations too. You’ll find warmongering, gossip-mongering and scaremongering rife in the world. But I will stick to frequenting the cheese mongers.

Until next week happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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Hello,

This week’s word is garble. Thanks to a distinct lack of sleep last weekend (running a Beaver Scout camp for 24 children aged 6-8 who don’t want to sleep and rise with the dawn chorus will do that to you) and various minor ailments, I have spent most of today garbling my sentences.

Garble’s modern meaning is causing a word, name or message to be unclear on confusing. It sounds a little like your tongue has gobbled itself.

However, garble hasn’t always had this negative meaning. Garbling was once a verb about sorting items. Spices, once so valuable that wars were started over them, were garbled, or graded, to remove impurities. So garbling originally took the nonsense out and improved something, which is quite the reverse of its meaning now.

Garble dates from the 1500s and originates with cribellum (sieve) in Latin, gharbala in Arabic, via garbellare (sift) in Old Italian, and garbelen in Middle English.

Perhaps the next time I garble my sentence I shall advise my listeners to garble it until the meaning becomes clear. That should confuse them thoroughly.

Until next time happy reading, writing and wordfooling,

Grace

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Hello,

Red onion marmalade

Red onion marmalade

This week’s word is tracklement (pronunciation guide here). I came across it when reading “The Long Earth” by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter and unlike some of the more obscure words I ponder here, this one gained usage in my house at once.

The Oxford English dictionary tells me that it’s a British term for a savoury jelly served with meat, origin unknown, c. 1950s. World Wide Words has looked into the matter in more depth and suggests the first print usage was by cookery writer Dorothy Hartley in “Food in England” in 1954. She drew it, probably, from a Yorkshire dialect word tranklement which means ornament or trinket.

Either way, the term tracklements seems like a good one to describe the wares of the aptly-named Tracklements Company as they sell pretty much anything you could put in a jar and serve with dinner – jellies, mustards, chutneys, pickles, salsas, ketchups.

As a keen home-preserver I have a section in my recipe folder for onion marmalade, tomato chutney, cranberry and port sauce, summer relish, chilli jam and such. I think I need to re-label it “tracklements”.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn or sign up for free e-mail updates from this blog in the top right-hand corner of the page.

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addictive_blog_awardHello,

Many thanks to Kimberly Sullivan for nominating me for The Addictive Blog Award. Kimberly is one of the beta readers for my current novel-in-revision “Hooked” over on Critique Circle and she blogs about her own women’s fiction writing and her varied travels from her base in Rome. I’ll be using her local hints for my trip to Rome this June.

For this award I need to write about why I blog and then nominate ten other blogs that I find addictive.

Why I blog

I began blogging in the spring of 2009 with the aim of sharing my passion for unusual and fun words. My first word was flibbertigibbet, so that will give you the general idea. Since then I’ve explored the meaning and origins of strange words every week and sometimes talked about my writing, especially during November when I’m a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month or when I’ve had a new piece published. My love of gardening creeps in now and then too.

Nominate Others

The following ten blogs (in alphabetical order) are ones I visit regularly because I share their passions…

  • Carolann Copland of Carousel Creates – I was lucky enough to spend a blissful and educational weekend as Carousel Creates, the writing retreat in the Dublin Mountains, this spring and Carolann is a real lady.
  • Errol and Debbie at Nanotoons – I really shouldn’t waste time during November reading comics online and watching a crazy NaNo musical, but I can’t resist because they are just so funny and I think they might have based the insane ML on me.
  • Ficticious Amo –  anybody who’s actually tweeted with Toby from the West Wing is cool in my book but meeting AnneMarie in person at Carousel and listening to her amazing fiction made me realise that she’s effortlessly cool all by herself. Read her fiction and be transported into her world.
  • Hope Clark – Hope has been writing about writing for a long time and she brings her trademark common sense and wit to everything she does. I am a huge fan of her newsletters (which I have been honoured to write features for in the past) and her blog is great too.
  • The Irish Writers’ Centre Blog – I’m biased because I guest posted for this blog during NaNoWriMo 2011, but actually it’s an interesting blog because it is populated by guest posts by all levels and types of writers who are joined by just one thread – they write in Ireland.
  • Jade at CraftHope – regular readers of my blog will know that I craft. I crochet, sew, make jewellery, paint, make cards, and basically have more arts and crafts supplies in my home than is sensible. So when I came across Craft Hope it was a eureka moment. Jade, a stay-at-home mom of four in Texas, began the blog in 2009 as a way of co-ordinating hand-crafted gifts for those that need them. The first project generated 27 pillow dresses for kids in Mexico made by Jade and some online crafting friends. Since then it was blossomed beyond belief. She’s on project 21 now and has helped more than 100,000 children and adults in need right around the globe. There’s a great book of projects (and suggested venues to donate them too) and I cannot recommend her site and her projects enough. If you know anybody who crafts – direct them here so they can make a difference with their skills.
  • Kristin and Kelly at Dinner du Jour –  love good food for your family? Then you’ll love this blog written by two old friends, now seperated by the Atlantic and blogging together to bridge the gap. Kristin used to be in my knitting group and was a great knitter, but honestly – her recipes are even better.
  • The Madwoman in the Attic – I met Lisa in my role as a mentor for National Novel Writing Month. I think I’m a compulsive reader (witness my Reading 501 books blog) but she puts me in the shade and in her role as a bookseller for Waterstones bookshop in Drogheda she is ideally placed to promote great writing. Want something amazing to read? Ask Lisa.
  • PurlBee – my favourite crafting blog. Beautifully photographed, brilliantly detailed, and endlessly inspiring. Covers crochet, knit, sewing, embroidery, weaving and general craft.
  • QuickCrop – Andrew and Niall grow vegetables and they know what they’re talking about when it comes to growing them in Ireland, which is important because our growing season is different to the South of England which is where a lot of our seeds originate. Not only that but they’re irreverent bloggers who share useful tips for gardeners experienced and less so. They also make great raised bed kits that form the skeleton of my own veg plot in my back garden.

Thank you all for writing such great blogs. I love reading them. I’ll be back next week with more unusual words at Wordfoolery, but until then happy reading, writing, and wordfooling.

Grace

 

 

 

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