Date: Tue, 25 Jul 1995 18:56:45 -0400
From: Margaret Ronkin ronkinm[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]GUSUN.ACC.GEORGETOWN.EDU
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"!