Is the term "Cheese Sommelier" correct?
- Midlife May 31, 2011 01:13 PM
I've been noticing that the term "Cheese Sommelier" is being used to describe what I have thought is actually a "Fromager". My guess is that the apparently incorrect name is being used in the belief that most people would not know what a Fromager is but could better relate to the suggestion of an expert in cheese when the word Sommelier is used.
I'd like to hear some opinions on this as well as whether there's a valid concern here about the 'bastardization" of language and terminology. Is there any real validity to the name Cheese Sommelier or is this a situation in which a more easily understood term is finding it's way into the language and may eventually be accepted as correct?
The word "sommelier" originally referred to someone who was in charge of beasts of burden, and later, it referred to the official responsible for all the luggage when the court was on the road. The word was further "bastardized" and lost all connection with beasts of burden and traveling, and "sommeliers" became the servants who took care of all kinds of provisions in day-to-day life. In medieval times, noble households had armor sommeliers, laundry sommeliers, mattress sommeliers, … in addition to the sommeliers in charge of food and drink. There was a spice sommelier, a bread sommelier, a fruit sommelier, etc.
I don't think there was a specialized cheese sommelier (the bread sommelier, or more precisely the "pantry sommelier", was responsible for butter, cream, cheese, and mustard, not just bread). But it is abundantly clear that there is no historical basis for limiting the term "sommelier" to wine. Nowadays, most people think it refers to the guy/gal who sells you your wine at a restaurant, but this is not THE correct, true, legitimate, pure sense of the word. It is just another stage in the never-ending, unstoppable bastardization of the language.