Take Our Word For It NOE No. 13
Oct 14, 2003 21:51 PDT
Take Our Word For It NOE No. 13
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**This Week's NOE**
We were recently cooking dinner and used curry powder (different from "a
curry"). It's a tasty blend of the following spices (at least in our
jar of it): fenugreek, coriander, cumin, turmeric, celery seed, mace,
ginger, red and black pepper, and garlic. We've discussed some spices
at TOWFI before, but fenugreek is one that has eluded us until now.
The word is old in English, dating from about 1000 in writing (the Old
English form was fenograecum). Old English borrowed it from Latin
faenugraecum, a conflation of faenum Graecum or "Greek hay". That was
the name the Romans gave to it after the Greek practice of cutting and
drying the plant for use as fodder for livestock. The Indo-European
root of the fenu- part of the word is dhe(i)- which Calvert Watkins (the
Indo-European root guru behind the American Heritage Dictionary) says
has a meaning of "to suck", and an extended meaning of "to produce".
That's the sense behind Latin faenum "hay" -- it is produced from meadow
grass. Fennel comes from the same root. Some words that come from the
"suck" version are female, feminine, effeminate and fetus.
Waverly Root says that fenugreek was never fully accepted in the West
because it is the seeds that are used for flavor and aroma and
they are impossibly small and only release their flavor when dried,
ground and heated, and they are very difficult to grind. Westerners
often find the aroma and taste unpleasant, too. However, Root claims
that fenugreek is used in the west to create artificial vanilla and even
maple flavors! And while the seeds are considered small by Western
standards, Ethiopians cook them up as vegetables, like tiny peas! There
are 180 mgs of calcium per hundred grams of fenugreek, and that might
explain why nursing mothers in Ethiopia eat extra servings of it. The
leaves and pods are eaten in India as vegetables, and of course Indian
and Pakistani curries and chutneys often contain fenugreek.
Keep sending us funny stuff! And we'll keep catching up on winners'
gift certificates :-)
We got another donation of $75 (this time from long-time reader Bruce
Yanoshek) and he has won a copy of Derivation! Bruce, it will go out
this week! Many thanks to you and to all who have donated. If you
donated but your name is not on the donors page by the coming weekend,
please let us know. PayPal sends us a notification when someone
donates, but apparently at least one such notification did not make it
to us. We keep our own record of donations made by Snail mail, but we
are human and can most certainly err, so even you mail donors should
make sure you're on the donors page!
We'll be back next week with a new issue of TOWFI and a NOE. We hope by
then to also have a review of Mark Morton's new book, "The Lover's
Tongue". Here's what Martha Barnette, author of "Dog Days & Dandelions"
and "Ladyfingers & Nun's Tummies" has to say about it: "As scholarly as
it is entertaining, "The Lover's Tongue" is a word lover's wet dream.
I'm still fanning myself!"
Until next time,
Take Our Word For It!
Melanie and Mike