Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 18:56:45 -0400


Subject: Re: sherbe(r)t

I haven't been following the details of this discussion,

so please excuse me if I'm repeating something here. But, according

to The Random House College Dictionary, which is what I've got handy,

sherbet, on the one hand (North American?), contains milk, egg white,

OR gelatin; on the other hand (British; maybe colonial backflow), it

refers to a "drink made of sweetened fruit juice diluted with water

and ice". But the NY distinction that Vicki refers to is also what I

grew up (all over the globe) with at home; my parents are both native


My knowledge of Arabic is limited to loan words in modern

Indo-Aryan and Iranian languages, and enough insecurity/curiosity

to check things out in the OED. But sharba (with an aspirated final

vowel), I believe, derives from the infinitive shariba (to drink);

syrup and its kin ultimately derive, of course, from sharab (wine and

other drinks/beverages, and one of the Muslim world's big time poetic


Nowadays, to make the wonderful sherbet (Turkish and Persian

= sherbet) that Peter writes about, one buys bottles of thick and very,

very heavily sweetened syrup (on display at every convenience store and

chemists'), pours a bit into a tall glass, and adds cold water and ice.

There's nothing to beat this in 100+ degree heat; I recommend buying

the mango flavo(u)r and boiling the water.



Tue, 25 Jul 1995, Peter L. Patrick wrote:


I don't believe your recollection of sherbet w/milk is correct.

Neither sherbet nor sorbet (nor sherbert), classically, should have

any milk products in them. The distinction you're thinking of may be ice

milk vs. ice cream, latter having more milkfat. This was never systematic

and was recently abolished by the FDA in favor of the more specific

(though still somewhat subjective) system of "ice cream", "reduced ice

cream", "low-fat ice cream", and "fat-free icecream", respectively

having less and less milkfat. Sherbet, however you spell it, never had

any, as far as I'm aware, but used gelatin for body.

That's the US marketing tradition. But in the Arabic

tradition, it wasn't even frozen-- just a cool drink of fruit juice

and water and sugar (Arabic "sharbah" is the root, related to our

'syrup'). People in Vikram Seth's 'A Suitable Boy' are always drinking

sherbet, for example.

Then again, I won't be responsible for what some company has

put into a box and called "sherbe(r)t"!

--peter patrick