Terminology for the Confused

A lot of the terms used in Markham and in the scholarly research surrounding cookery manuals may be unfamiliar to some blog readers, so I’ve created this section to provide definitions. I’ll be adding to this as more terms pop up during the course of the project. If there is a term you aren’t familiar with (and that isn’t listed here) let me know and I’ll add it! It should be noted that most of these definitions come from the incredibly helpful glossary in Michael Best’s edition of The English Housewife, although some I have learned from talking with others in the field.

“coffin:” A pie crust. It was a very thick crust in the Middle Ages, and somewhat thinner by Markham’s time.

“comfit:” Dried fruits, nuts, or spices that are covered in a candy coating.

“dry sucket:” Candied fruit or flowers.

“middling sorts:” this is the vague-sounding term used in scholarly research about this period. It’s kind of like the modern “middle class,” but because class relations were (obviously) different back then, it is a bit more broad and less clearly defined.

“pippin:” Cooking apples.

“quince:” A fruit that is not as common today, but was popular in Markham’s time. It grows on trees and is related to the pear.

“malt:” sprouted grain used in brewing and distilling.

“marchpane:” Marzipan. It is a sweet almond paste used today in desserts.

“pomecitron:” a member of the citrus family.

“sallat:” (cooked) salad.

“strange” (as in “strange sallats”): “strange” usually referred to something that was foreign, so in cookery manuals this term is used to denote foreign dishes (which were ‘en vogue’ at the time).

“swinge:” to whip or beat.

“wafers:” a very thin cookie, originally developed for the end of wealthy feasts to aid digestion.

“walm:” boil.

“wardens:” cooking pears that keep well for long periods.

“wet sucket:” It sounds a little unappetizing, but it just refers to fruit in syrup.


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