Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Wonderous Word Wednesday 4

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Kathy at the Bermuda Onion where you "can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love. Feel free to get creative!"

Here are a couple of interesting words from the books I have been reading lately ...

First - something fun - from Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger we have ... Bakewell pudding, which like portmanteau, turns out to be way more complicated than I anticipated.

Bakewell pudding, which originates from the Derbyshire town of Bakewell, is a dessert consisting of a flaky pastry base (puff pastry or similar), covered with a layer of jam (raspberry with the seeds removed seems the most popular now but originally gooseberries and apricot or peach marmalade with orange zest were common) and topped with a mixture of beaten eggs (fluffy but not frothy), sugar and ground almonds (or almond paste) [or lots of butter and some almond flavor - often alcoholic in origin]. This is baked for 30 minutes and may, or may not (more often not ), be topped with almond slivers or slices and fresh raspberries before serving.

There are lots of different "correct recipes" out there and several bakeries in England claim to hold the original recipe (also usually with historically inaccurate accounts of said origin). Outsiders can differentiate Bakewell Pudding from Bakewell Tart because the pudding is made with puff pastry and the tart with shortcrust (it is more complicated than that but this is getting silly). If you are really interested in following this up, I found this http://foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com/2012/05/some-early-bakewell-pudding-recipes.html which has a big history dump on this topic.

The long and short of it is that Sophronia apparently made the right decision in not eating the Bakewell pudding because there could be practically anything in there.

Finally, something just plain weird from The Disappearing Spoon (yes, sigh, I am still reading it but I will finish it this week!) we have ...

argyria  which is explained in the text but I definitely needed a picture to go with this !
From Wikipedia

"Argyria or argyrosis (from Greek: ἄργυρος argyros silver) is a condition caused by inappropriate exposure to chemical compounds of the element silver, or to silver dust. The most dramatic symptom of argyria is that the skin turns blue or bluish-grey. It may take the form of generalized argyria or local argyria. Generalized argyria affects large areas over much of the visible surface of the body. Local argyria shows in limited regions of the body, such as patches of skin, parts of the mucous membrane or the conjunctiva [which lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the sclera (white part of the eye)] ... Generally silver is only slightly toxic to humans, so the risk of serious harm from clinical exposure is slight."

In this context "inappropriate exposure" usually means dosing yourself with silver as a "medicinal' supplement, though some people were apparently prescribed something that contained some form of silver.
Photo from BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2297471.stm)
Stan Jones of Montana, a candidate for US Senate in 2002 and 2006, seems to be one of the most famous examples of argyria. I know it looks like there is something wrong with the picture, but he really was that color - sort of like he was squishing blueberries on his face.

There are several examples of this online if you care to take a look. Some people turn more of a gray color and others looks more like large, renegade Smurfs.

This is just too weird.


  1. Wow, I'm wondering if argyria is permanent. That would be horrible! It sounds like the people in Bakewell are serious about their desserts.

    1. It is permanent! The silver becomes deposited in the tissues of the skin. Apparently there has been some success recently with using the same kind of laser process that removes tattoos but that is probably only good for people who have a localized issue. Too weird.

  2. Fun post to read although I am feeling hungry now. I'd never heard of either of your words and I enjoyed learning them both.

  3. Yes, I'm hungry too! There have been lots of posts out there today about food- mine included. Going in search of a snack now... Thanks for teaching us!

  4. I've heard of bakewell tart, pudding sounds nice, yum :) Thank you for the new word - argyria.

  5. I think I'd heard someone mention a Bakewell tart in my extensive BBC viewing, but I had no clear idea what it was. As for argyria--holy Hell! The etymology is obvious once you know what it means: "argent" is the Latin for silver, and has survived into most of the Romance languages. Thus, the symbol for silver on the Periodic Table of Elements is "Ar". But I hadn't realized a person could get silver poisoning, and that skin color is deeply disturbing. I think I'll use this word in my next Halloween post.

  6. Great words. One sounds delicious and the other is completely new to me.


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