Saturday, 31 January 2015

Breakfast comestibles

Marmalade and marmite: both breakfast products with very different ingredients and flavours but both beginning with the same four letters.

Marmalade comes from the Portuguese marmelada (quince jam) and in turn from marmelo (quince) based on the Greek melimēlon from meli (honey) and mēlon (apple). How, I wonder, did the Portugese quinces turn (seemingly via melons and apples) into Seville oranges?

Marmite comes from the early 19th century. It is a French word from the Old French marmite (hypocritical - with reference to the hidden contents of the lidded pot) which in turn derives from marmotter (to mutter) and mite (cat).

Etymologically unrelated words. But now emphatically British products: British yeast in the case of Marmite. I have read somewhere that French chefs now use Marmite in cooking. Some members of our family pronounce it marmeet as though it were the French word.

I have never, on the other hand, heard of a French chef using marmalade in cooking. My mother once invented a recipe consisting of chicken thighs baked in marmalade.