Monday, December 07, 2009

The Kitchen.

This week I want to have fun with ‘kitchen’ words – starting with ‘kitchen’ itself. I also intend, for no reason other than writer’s privilege, to keep the recipe offerings firmly in the seventeenth century.

The word kitchen is very ancient; the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) cites the earliest known reference to it in the year 1000. The derivation is convoluted, to say the least, as a result of which there are many and varied spellings. It appears to be associated with Latin words relating to cookery - coquere (to cook), coquinas (of cookery), and coquus (cook), and the early example given by the OED also begins with ‘c’ - cycene . This became kitchene, kychene, or kechene in Middle English, the letter ‘t’ therefore being a late addition.

We don’t need the OED to know that a kitchen is “That room or part of a house in which food is cooked; a place fitted with the apparatus for cooking.” There is another use of the word cited in the dictionary however, which was certainly new to this little word fossicker:

Formerly also kitchen meat: Food from the kitchen; hence, any kind of food (as meat, fish, etc.), eaten with bread or the like, as a relish; by extension, anything eaten with bread, potatoes, porridge, or other staple fare to render it more palatable or more easily eaten. Thus butter or cheese is ‘kitchen’ to bare bread, milk is ‘kitchen’ to porridge. Chiefly Sc. or north. Ir. (= Welsh enllyn.)

So, I give you a nice recipe for some ‘kitchen’ to your bread – a ‘marmalade’ of plums - from The Queen’s Closet* Opened: Incomparable Secrets in Physick, Chyrugery, Preserving, Candying, and Cookery; As They Were Presented to the Queen By the Most Experienced Persons of our times … by W.M (‘one of her late Servants), 1658. This would have been a very stiff, dry, paste – not quite so much boiling would give a more acceptable modern ‘jam’ consistency.

To make Marmalet of any tender Plum.

Take your Plums, and boil them between two dishes on a Chafing-dish of coals, then strain it, and take as much Sugar as the pulp do weigh, and put to it as much Rose water, and fair water as will melt it, that is, half a pint of water to a pound of Sugar, and so boil it to a Candy height, then put the pulp into hot sugar, with the pap of a roasted apple. In like manner you must put roasted Apples to make Paste Roayl of it, or else it will be tough in the drying.

*A ‘closet’ was a private room or chamber, in the seventeenth century often specifically referred to one used to make or store sweetmeats and preserves.

Quotation for the Day.

I liked the energy of cooking, the action, the camaraderie. I often compare the kitchen to sports and compare the chef to a coach. There are a lot of similarities to it..

Todd English


Marisa Raniolo Wilkins said...

The Italian word 'cucina' has a multiplicity of meanings. The same word is used for cooking, cuisine and kitchen.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Marisa - I think I will have some language lessons with you next time we are together - I love the way these words interconnect.