Describing occupational varieties of English: C18th cooking


Recipe names epitomized by meagre broth & Ox Tongues à la mode

French: a la mode, meager (trans. from French soup maigre)

English: Ox Tongues, broth

è this is a New and Easy Method of Cookery

o      basic stuff

o      with trendy touches?

§       soup maigre relatively recent in English

§       1700s: one early citation from the Connoisseur!


French cookery was a cultural touchstone: those people who thought it was pretentious epitomized it with ragoût and fricassee

1727 SWIFT Modest Proposal Wks. 1755 II. II. 61 It will equally serve in a fricassé, or a ragoust.

a1764 R. LLOYD Cobler of Cripplegate's Lett. Wks. 1774 II. 102 Borrows fine shapes, and titles new, Of fricasee and rich ragoût.


Nouns denoting ingredients

·       some of the basic nouns have been in the language since OE: e.g. barley, leeks

o      continental borrowings from Latin:

§       beet, chervil, parsley (sort of, but complicated!)

§       parsley and barley obviously native: permanently affected by lowering of er

·       live animal names: Eels, Calf’s head, Ox Tongues, Sheep’s Head

·       but the category is open to loan words and changes with culture

o      some words here from French:

§       cooked meat: bacon, beef, mutton

§       celery, herbs, mace, marjoram, morel, onion, savoy, sorrel

o      others from Italian: artichoke, broccoli,

o      others give evidence of England’s colonization and exploration: Jamaica pepper


Nouns denoting units of measurement

For solids: Animal parts

·       brisket ‘breast [of an animal]’

·       hough ‘hock, knee of a quadruped’

·       neck and breast of mutton, rump of beef


Standard units of measurement

·       from OE (from Latin) “pound of Eels”

·       from French: “two Ounces of Bay Salt”


More subjective units

·       bunch (?), lump (?), faggot (Fr), handful, some (!)

·       an experienced cook will know how much …


For liquids

Standard units

·        pint, chopine (‘half a regular pint’, from French chope ‘vessel)

·       from Dutch into northern/Scots English: mutchkin “a quarter of the old Scots pint”


Relative to other items,

e.g. cooking dishes: a Kettle of Water


Imperative verbs denoting specific methods of cooking

Some native or Norse: brown, score, scrape, shred, singe, soak…

Some from French:  blanch, boil, lard, skim, stew, strain…

One maybe from Dutch: stove (origin of our noun)…

          all monosyllabic

all evidently familiar


Conversion shows process of cooking:

doing things according to a method (score),

for a result (brown, thicken)


Some converted from adjectives: blanch, brown, thicken ‘to make …’

Some from nouns: score occurs as both verb (score the inside) and noun (a Slice of Bacon laid in every Score)


Adjectives modifying fire: slow, gentle

-we don’t use fires for cooking any more and perhaps aren’t used to describing their heating properties that way


Adjectives modifying the food: fine, sweet, good lump of butter

-experienced cook can recognize sweet herbs or fine barley

-make the recipe sound appealing because the author trying to entice the purchaser/reader/cook?