vegan baker

on “cookery”
February 24, 2008, 11:35 pm
Filed under: rant | Tags:

After I realized that both of the vegan baking programs in the country are hosted by schools with the word “cookery” in their names, I was pretty sure I wanted to talk about it. I thought “cookery” silly, an absurd throwback like those RenFair-style Ye Olde Timey Goode Shoppes that try so hard to be genteel and always fall a few miles short.

Then I got a note which read in part, “IT’S TOUBLESOME TO CHANGE THE DEVICE WHILE THE APARTEMENTE IS RENTED, BUT LAURA WANTS YOU TO FEEL COMFORTABLE, SO IF YOU DO WANT THE NEW COOKERY, JUST LET HER KNOW.” The Spanish word for “stove,” you see, is sometimes “cocinar,” which is also a verb that means “To cook.” I just about exploded when I read this note, so strong were my giggles. So let’s talk about “cookery.”

I should note that I am in love with the Oxford English Dictionary, and I once got all swoony over a complete social leper because he’d gotten a degree in linguistics. I heart language, basically. With that in mind, here is a rather truncated version of what the OED says about “cooking”:

1. The action of the verb COOK (lit. and fig.). spec. the process of preparing opium. Cf. COOK v.1 2d.
1645 MILTON Tetrach. Wks. 1738 I. 221 It is man’s perverse cooking who hath turn’d this bounty of God into a Scorpion. 1815 HUNT Feast of Poets 6 And will find ye all out with your cookings and cares. 1873 H. SPENCER Study of Sociol. vi. (1877) 121 ‘Cooking’ of railway accounts and financial prospectuses. 1887 in Amer. Speech (1948) XXIII. 246/2 Watch the roller go through his routine of cooking.

2. concr. That which is cooked at one time; a meal. (Cf. BAKING vbl. n. 2.)
1804 W. TAYLOR in Ann. Rev. II. 635 The rustic greediness of swallowing two cookings in a day.

3. attrib. and Comb. a. cooking-apple (I’ll spare you 400 examples of the use of “cooking-apple” here.)

b. Used in the cooking of food, as cooking sherry, soda; hence designating something of medium or average quality, as cooking bitter (beer). (Again, you don’t need the examples, gripping as they are.)

So, “cooking” means getting your opium on and what you make when you cook (“Behold, I shall cook a cooking.”) In contrast, here’s the OED on the word “cookery”:

1. a. The art or practice of cooking, the preparation of food by means of fire.
1393 GOWER Conf. II. 83 Berconius of cokerie First made the delicacie. c1450 Two Cookery-bks. 69 Here Beginnethe A Boke of Kokery. 1555 EDEN Decades 258 Theyr maner of coquerie is in manye thynges differynge from owres. 1570 Wills & Inv. N.C. (Surtees) 327 A booke of kouckery in prent. 1606 SHAKES. Ant. & Cl. II. vi. 64 Fine Egyptian cookerie. 1725 DE FOE Voy. round World (1840) 265 A house, or a place at least, for our cookery. 1818 COLEBROOKE Import Colon. Corn 94 Animal matters which have undergone cookery, etc. 1884 L’pool Daily Post 24 July 5 A new department will be opened for the neighbouring School of Cookery. (I am completely charmed by “A Boke of Kokery” and I advise any and all cookbook authors to reuse this title.)

The next few parts of the entry are redundant and long-winded, so I’m cutting them out. Do forgive me. Anyway, the moral of the story came as a surprise to me. “Cookery” is correct, correct, correct. “Cookery book” and “cookery school” and “cookery class” are all appropriate uses of the word. “Cooking” is the act, “cookery” is the thing you food-#### lovers lust over. So if I sound a little Olde English in the future, it is not because I play D&D. I’m just trying not to sound like an opium addict.


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