or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Currant Events

Dare French Cremes. All you Canadians will know what they are. They used to be better, or at least better-textured if not actually better for you, because now that icing on top is made with palm oil, which leaves that greasy scum on your tongue a minute after you eat one.

Someone left a box of them on the breakroom table yesterday: we do that all the time, buy a big bag of chips or a box of candy and leave it out for everyone to share. A co-worker and I were wondering just what was in the cookies that made them so deliciously dangerous, and so we were reading the lists of ingredients, she in English from her side of the box, I in French from mine. Yeah, we lead fascinating lives, but in our defence, we were on a break, when heavy intellectual lifting is not expected.

When I came to the sixth ingredient on the list, "raisins de corinth", my first thought was that "Corinthian raisins" was kind of funny, because naturally it is going to make you think of Ricardo Montalban talking about rich Corinthian leather, and then it hit me: Corinth! That must be where the word "currant" comes from!

It sure is. "Raisin" is actually the French word for "grape": what we call "raisins", they call "raisins secs", "dried grapes". (Our "grape", wonderfully, is related to "grapple", because the word originally referred to the hook used to harvest grapes and then synecdochally became the fruit itself: prior to that, the Old English word for "grape" was "winberige", "wineberry".) Corinth, where the raisins once in fact came from, was rendered in the French-English hybrid spoken in Britain as "Corauntz" and later in Early Modern English as "Curans", and finally, well, you know.


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