The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51174   Message #1354838
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
12-Dec-04 - 02:12 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Short'nin' Bread
Subject: RE: Origins: Shortnin' Bread
Azizi, like many 'factoid' websites, the one you cite is out of date and jumps to an debatable conclusion. It is best to consult a late edition of the complete Oxford English Dictionary; one after 1987 is needed here since that was when the entries on shortening were last updated. As noted above in posts, Amelia Simmons' "American Cookery" of 1796 has the first printed usage of the word shortening applied to cookery.

First use found so far of shorten in English print in the sense here (to make friable) is 1723, in a discussion of how to make clay suitable for farming by applying sand and chalk. The derivation of this usage is unknown; connection with 'short iron' is unproven. It may derive from the process of manuring farmland.

(Where did the word short come from originally? Some authorities believe it is a Teutonic word, others believe it originally was Latin curtus, modified by the Teutonic people. The Saxon word is curt. The many different applications of the word in English, however, may have little relation to the root word.)

Anne, citron is a thick-skinned fruit related to the lemon, and in cookery it is the preserved rind. Now, the word has been applied to preserved watermelon rind. Real citron is rare except in specialty stores but it shows up in really good fruitcakes. Preserved watermelon rind, dyed green and sold packaged in stores as a substitute, tastes nothing like real citron.

Raisins- many types, all from grape varieties. Sultanas are a light-skinned raisin, often used in cookery. As you say, often just called Sultanas. Muscat raisins are the usual dark-skinned type. Corinthian raisins, usually sold as 'currants' in our groceries, are very small and dark. When I cook oatmeal, I throw in a handful. Real currents are not easy to find in stores, sometimes in the frozen food section.
Over here, porridge refers to any cooked grain cereal, not just oatmeal. Many kinds, made from wheat (Cream of Wheat a popular brand), etc.

Now to add musical content- Jerry, I haven't seen that verse in the collections I have, but it is a good 'un.