Word of the Week (216): FRUMENTY (probability 23648), by David Sutton

FRUMENTY (also spelt FROMENTY, FURMENTY, FURMETY or FURMITY) was a cereal dish made of hulled wheat boiled in milk, with sugar, plums, etc. It will be remembered that in the opening scene of Hardy's 'The Mayor of Casterbridge', Michael Henchard is led astray by a bowl of frumenty to which a tot of stronger liquor has been added, and ends up, as one does, selling his wife.

Let's have a look at some other wheat-based dishes from around the world. BULGHUR (also spelt BULGUR or BURGHUL) is a form of cooked, broken wheat; the word is Turkish in origin. KIBBE (also spelt KIBBEH or KIBBI) is a Syrian dish of ground meat and cracked wheat.

SEITAN (or SEITEN) is wheat gluten, widely used in Far Eastern and vegetarian cookery.

As for different strains of wheat, we have AMELCORN, a variety from which starch is produced, DURUM, also known as macaroni wheat, EMMER, a primitive strain which was one of the first crops to be domesticated in the Near East, EINKORN, SPELT (or SPELTZ), and TRITICALE, a hybrid of wheat and rye, taking its name from the TRITICUM genus of grasses to which wheat belongs. Such a hybrid is not be confused with MASHLAM (also MASHLIM, MASHLIN, MASHLOCH, MASHLUM or MASLIN - what is it about wheat that provokes so many orthographic variants?), which is simply a mixture of wheat and rye, and is also known as MONGCORN or MUNGCORN.


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