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Sep 3, 2012 03:30 PM

Cullen Skink Anyone? Unappetizing and strange foreign food names!!


This food has just entered my food lexicon recently and I find Cullen Skink so hysterical
and unappetizing that I have to laugh. "Who wants more cullen skink? Now come on, don't be shy!" Don't get me wrong- I am no racist/nationalist here. I speak a number of languages including one which has its equal share of weird sounding things (it's called English) so i just laugh at anything that sounds particularly weird to me.

(This is another new one i just learned, though i don't find it unappetizing, just v unusual- kouign amann



Any weird non-English food names come to mind for you?(esp. the unappetizing ones!?)

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  1. The one that came immediately to mind was Spotted Dick, but then that's English …

    23 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      Funny, I just opened this thread to say that I am attending an event for Dickens' 200th birthday and one of the foods being offered is Spotted Dick. The others, like Bubble and Squeak, I've heard of. But I have no idea what to expect from Spotted Dick. I have resisted googling it to maintain the surprise. (Didn't realize the OP wanted non-English names; but really this illustrates how English and American English diverge.)

      1. re: gaffk

        I won't spoil your surprise of one of our best known traditional desserts but bear in mind it is not a light dish, so you may want to take things easy with earlier courses so you're not too full to enjoy it. Hope there's good custard to accompany it.

        1. re: Harters

          At school I remember spotted dick always came with sweet white sauce, not custard.

          1. re: Peg

            Harters probably has crème anglaise in mind. This a pouring custard, not the jello like baked custard that many Americans know.


            1. re: paulj

              I believe Peg is from the UK too. At my school the only difference between custard and a sweet white sauce would have been the amount of yellow food colouring.

              1. re: gembellina

                If the 'custard' is made with Birds, then the 'sweet white sauce' description fits better, since it uses a starch thickener.

                1. re: gembellina

                  We managed to ruin our first Christmas dinner together back in 1972. A sweet white sauce would be a traditional accompaniment to Christmas pudding. Now, OK, nowadays, we'd put lashing of brandy or rum into but, back then we didnt know about cooking. So we bought a packet mix, only realising the disaster when we started to eat. Yep, a white onion sauce.

                  1. re: Harters

                    Onion sauce? wasn't that supposed to go on the Toad in the Hole? :)


                    1. re: paulj

                      White onion sauce traditionally goes with a lamb/mutton roast in the winter, replacing the "fine weather" mint sauce. Onion gravy would go with your Toad.

                    2. re: Harters

                      oh my dear lord -- the hair on the back of my neck stands up just thinking about onion sauce on a plum pudding. *shudder*

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Oh no; I now know it's a plum pudding with a white sauce. Bummer.

                        1. re: gaffk

                          You're ok, it's not a plum pudding - that's the Xmas pudding Harters is talking about!

                          1. re: gembellina

                            plum, Christmas, whatever -- onion sauce on a sweet steamed pudding is gag-worthy.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I agree! But I think gaffk was worried we'd given the game away about what spotted dick is. It certainly won't be as revolting as that, gaffk!

                              1. re: gembellina

                                Good to hear. If I was anticipating plum pudding with onion sauce, I'd really have to load up on the bubble & squeak so I'd have no room for dessert.

                                1. re: gaffk

                                  Don't worry, gaffk. You'll enjoy it, I hope. A lovely traditional pudding and we'll continue to keep schtum about what it is.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Thanks Harters. All will be revealed tomorrow.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      The custard was delicious, but if I never have that pudding (or was it cake?) again I'll be OK.

                                      1. re: gaffk

                                        Assuming that it was a "proper" Spotted Dick, then it was a steamed pudding, not a baked cake.


                                        1. re: Harters

                                          Perhaps it wasn't proper, as the cream was significatly whiter. The pudding wasn't really like a baked cake, but it had a much different, more crumbly consistency than I would expect from a pudding. Then again, I'm American ;)

                                          1. re: gaffk

                                            ah yes -- there's that "two countries divided by a common language" thing again.

                                            In Britain, "pudding" may or may not have anything at all to do with the stuff Bill Cosby sells -- that's actually called "custard". (I had some homemade custard -- but this was a sauce! -- this summer that had me thinking seriously of drinking it right out of the jug and then licking the plate clean)

                                            Pudding is even sometimes used as a catchall term for dessert.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              A steamed dessert is pretty much always going to be called a pudding.

                                              And, sunshine is right. Dessert may generically be called pudding. They may also be called "sweets" . I believe originally to distinguish them from "savouries" that might otherwise end a meal.It's very rare now to see a restaurant menu offering a savoury amongst its desserts but I'm certain to order one if there is.

                      2. re: gembellina

                        Indeed. We called it 'white custard'.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                I think hummus only sounds unappetizing in the bastardized English pronunciation.

              2. Cullen Skink? First, I'd check the Bill to make sure the Price is Right.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Tripeler

                  ...am I the only one here old enough to get the joke? :-/

                  In any case I guess I'm the odd man out since I tend to gravitate towards strange named foods I've never tried.
                  And I wait until _after_ I've tasted them to inquire about the ingredients (what I don't know won't hurt me). ;-)

                  1. re: The Professor

                    I'm old enough, however, in this case, that means i'm also old enough that I don't find homophone linkage particularly amusing.

                    I can hear in my mind Ricky Gervais delivering this line then explaining it.

                    1. re: The Professor

                      Thanks, Professor. I was beginning to think that nobody got that one.

                    2. As far as Kouign-Amann...that's Breizh, one of the regional languages of the northwest of France...LOTS of things in Breizh sound odd to a foreign ear! (For that matter, things in MOST of the Celtic dialects sound odd to a foreign ear -- Irish, Gaidlig, Welsh, Manx, Cornish, and any others I'm inadvertently omitting -- musical and lovely to listen to, but completely indecipherable without help)

                      It's a lovely pastry when made right, by the way.

                      17 Replies
                      1. re: sunshine842

                        cullen skink is soup with smoked haddock in......

                        1. re: flashria

                          Gaidlig. Which is, I think, what I said.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            Cullen is a village in Scotland. Maybe the name is Gaelic (Gàidhlig), but anyway it's a proper name, and IMO not particularly strange/foreign sounding. "Skink" is a Germanic word, not Celtic.

                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                              according to the Wiki linked above, it's a Scots word " ultimately derived from Middle Dutch", and which "Others have hypothetized that it comes from the Middle High German word". I'm not saying it's not -- but the article would suggest that the Germanic hold on the word is somewhat tenuous.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Both suggested hypotheses go back to a Germanic root. Anyway, trust the OED over Wikipedia (or the NYT Travel section), and notice that no one, in any of these sources, mentions any possibility of a Celtic origin for "skink".

                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                  But it is currently considered a Scots word, regardless of where it originated.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    And Scots is a Germanic language... You are aware of that, right?

                                    1. re: DeppityDawg

                                      er....not according to most of the sources I've seen (Wiki is just one)

                                      Including this one: http://cranntara.org.uk/gaelic.htm which suggests that Gaelic is older than German (therefore cannot be descended from it...) More here: http://homes.chass.utoronto.ca/~cperc...

                                      The Celts were a different people -- they were not Saxon.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        What DeppityDawg is trying to point out is that there were, going back to the Middle Ages, 2 main languages in what is now Scotland - a Germanic English dialect in the SE, and a Celtic language in north.

                                        According to this map, in 1400 Cullen on the NE coast was in the Engish/Scots area, though Scottish Gaelic speakers were not far inland.

                                        And to answer my previous question, there were both commercial and migration ties with Dutch and Flemish parts of the Continent.

                                        What ever the name origins of this soup were, there is a relatively late component - the use of potatoes (early 1800s). The same goes for New England chowders, where potatoes replaced earlier bread/cracker thickeners.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          the language derivation of "Cullen" is pointless since the soup is named after the place. For a small fishing village (now gentrified and fish-less since the sea in that area has been pretty much fished out), Cullen was once a major fishing port and smoking place for haddock ( finnan haddie). . Skink is another matter, I will rest on wikopedia for the derivation. Given the amount of sea trade between scotland, the low countries and scandinavia, there is no reason why a germanic derived term could not have crept in.

                                          As I said somewhere else on this thread its a great soup though you may laugh.

                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                          We're not talking about Gaelic, but Scots. Two different languages.


                                    2. re: sunshine842

                                      So the word is "derived from Middle Dutch",or "from the Middle High German" and you take from this that "the Germanic hold on the word is somewhat tenuous"?

                                      How many Germanic sources should be proposed before the relationship is no longer tenuous?

                                      1. re: FrankJBN

                                        I was commenting in particular to "others have hypothesized"

                                        And as in my reply to DeppityDawg -- the Celts were NOT Saxon (and a lot of blood was spilled enforcing the fact that they were not!). Different tribes, different language.

                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                        Another Scottish food term that is traced to (old) Dutch is scone (often rhyming with 'gone'). So what was the connection between Scotland and Holland? Trading, or some sort of migration?

                                2. re: sunshine842

                                  yes, sunshine, you put your finger right on it>> Celtic languages = strrrrrange!(we're big trad celtic music fans, so we see and hear the language alot) But now you've given me some hours of googling, as i was not aware of the words gaidlig and manx .

                                  We're in the Boston area, and lucky us, had a super Kouign Amann the other day- our first and not last :-)

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Despite being indecipherable, at least Gaelic sounds "English" in the sense that the phonetics (vowel qualities, and some other sounds) seem very English--in the sense that it seems to be made up "meaningless" English words. Afterall, these two languages have been in contact for around 1,000 years. I'm sure no one will agree with me, though.

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      That sounds so different from what it means. Conversely, I've seen "sweet meats" to mean pastry.