Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 01:02:07 -0600
From: Mike Salovesh t20mxs1[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Subject: A dictionary [gooseberry] fool!

Maybe we resorted to cookbooks too soon. There are a lot of
dictionaries around our house, too. Both Peggy and I got in the habit
of using the Merriam-Webster Collegiate in or before high school, and
are still prejudiced in its favor today. But we also have the M-W
Unabridged 3rd International, one of its ancient predecessors from ca.
1890, OED, the Shorter OED, Random House, Funk & Wagnall's, stacks of
more specialized dictionaries -- The Vulgar Tongue, etc., etc. -- and
too many others to mention.

In one of the dictionaries we seldom use, there is the following. (I
omit italics and indications of pronunciation because they won't

"fool, n. [ME & OFr. fol (Fr. fou), a fool, idiot; LL. follus, follis, a
fool, foolish L. follis, a pair of bellows, windbag], 1. a person
with little or no judgment, common sense, wisdom, etc. . . . "

which is followed by a separate entry:

"fool, n. [Early Mod. Eng., kind of trifle (confection); hence, prob.
fool (silly person) by analogy with trifle], stewed fruit with cream,
especially whipped cream."

Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language (College
Edition). World Publishing Co., Cleveland and New York, 1955.

Once more, there's no citation, and that "prob." suggests that they're
guessing, no?

I'm glad the gooseberry fool question came up, because it led me to a
full page, two column article on "gooseberry" in Waverly Root's "Food:
An authoritative and visual history and dictionary of the foods of the
world". New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980; reprint edition, New York,
Smithmark, 1996. To whet your appetites, the article begins

"GOOSEBERRY. William Robbins, in "The American Food Scandal", lists
gooseberries among the foods which it is difficult to find in American
supermarkets; but while it is true that this is the kind of
hard-to-handle fruit which supermarkets prefer not to offer, they cannot
be accused in this case of depriving the American consumer of something
he would dearly like to have. Americans have never been great
gooseberry fanciers . . .

The English are the world's most fervent gooseberry eaters, with some
help from the Scandinavians and the Teutons (gooseberry pie was a
favorite dish of Adolph Hitler)."

The full article tells me more than I ever wanted to know about
gooseberries. Root, as usual, is enjoyable, informative, opinionated
(if not downright bigoted), and a lot of fun to read. In small doses.

-- mike salovesh salovesh[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
anthropology department
northern illinois university PEACE !!!