I don’t know if you know it, but I love the word soupçon. Long before I knew what it meant in French, I just loved the sound of it, and its general cheeky French air.
Do you ever see pretentious French terms on menus and wish you knew what they meant without having to look up their meaning? Perhaps you choose a dish in a restaurant which includes sautéd greens, but you have no idea what they exactly are. Well, let me help you with this one at least. And talk about Ancient Greek philosophers and heraldry too, naturally.
It’s Christmas Eve, and many of you, especially in the UK and Ireland, will be enjoying some mince pies today. If you’re unfamiliar with these delicious treats, they’re little sweet pies with a filling of dried fruit, jam, and spices. But no minced meat. What’s up with the name then?
Once more, I’d like to offer you a pepperoni pizza, now that you’re safe in the knowledge of what it actually is. I won’t play any tricks this time. Now, would you like that pizza to be hot and spicy? You would? OK, first, let me add some chilli oil. Then… wait, that’s it? But you said you wanted it to be hot and spicy, and I’ve only added the chilli oil. Don’t you also want some… No? OK, but with only the chilli oil, it’s not hot and spicy. Why? Let me explain again…
Well, never, of course. But these two words are quite often confused by English-language learners. It makes sense really. The two words obviously sound similar, and that’s particularly true for speakers of languages which don’t make such a distinction between the ch (/ʧ/) and k (/k/) sounds. And of course it’s logical to create an association between the two things: where else are you going to keep your chicken?
This is something I often ask myself. And then, I look it up. When I get the answer I’m satisfied, and then I don’t think about it again. And then a few months later I ask the question again, and I can’t remember the answer. Partly because it’s not so important, I suppose. And partly because I struggle with 50/50, it’s-one-or-the-other style answers. Like what the difference between biennial and biannual is, which I’ve long struggled to remember (though I think I know it now, but I don’t want to google it in case I’m wrong: I couldn’t face such a setback).
Only, the difference between a tart and a pie isn’t so trivial to me. Because I enjoy baking occasionally. I’ve liked cooking for a long time, but there was always something stopping me from baking. Maybe it felt too difficult, or I was afraid I might fail, I don’t know. But I’ve made a few things now, and baking’s not so bad. It’s basically just cooking, but with more particular ingredients and techniques. And I’m pretty sure that I’ve made some things that could be either tarts or pies, and I want to know one which they are! In fact, at this very moment I have something in the oven (I checked to see if it was ready after the comma after cooking, three lines above) and I’m not even sure if it’s a pie, a tart, or a cake.
Well, I know it’s not a pie, because it just clearly isn’t one. And if you’d asked me to guess, I’d confidently call it a cake. The thing is though, the recipe calls it a tart, and I’m willing to defer to Mary Berry on this one. But I’m looking at it, and I still think it could be a cake. Rather than just google it again, only to forget it again later, I’m going to think about and try to figure out which is which, right before your eyes…