Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue – Day 132

The Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue was first published at the end of the eighteenth century, and given that the current health crisis is giving too much time to read books, I thought I’d pick a daily word from it until I got bored….

Furmity (or Fromenty)

This sounds like quite a jolly word and it’s defined as “wheat boiled up to a jelly. To simper like a furmity kettle: to smile, or look merry about the gills”. I prefer the smile element to this definition although this is sadly no longer in common usage, but the culinary meaning survives to this day, usually now spelled as ‘frumenty’.

The meal was usually a dish for the poor, wheat boiled up with some milk or broth and it doesn’t sound entirely delicious, although there are now modern variations with some more exotic ingredients (not least including rum). The word comes from the Latin ‘frumentum’, meaning grain and this dish was usually the starter in medieval English feasts. I think I’d prefer a prawn cocktail to be honest….