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Culinary verbs in Middle English


Magdalena Bator

This study examines the range of culinary verbs found in the English culinary recipes of the 14 th and 15 th centuries. Altogether over 1500 recipes have been collected and over 100 verbs were selected for the research. They have been divided into three major semantic groups, i.e. verbs of cooking, cutting, and preparing. The analysis comprises such aspects as the origin of the verbs, rivalry of synonyms, context of usage and other criteria.
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Chapter Four: Verbs of cooking


The semantic field of cooking verbs in its contemporary state has been analysed by Lehrer (1969) and in a more general work on verbs by Levin (1993). The former (1969: 49) enumerates the following cooking verbs: bake, barbecue, boil, braise, broil, brown, burn, charcoal, cook, deep-fry, flamber, French-fry, fry, grill, oven-fry, oven-poach, pan-broil, pan-fry, parboil, parch, plank, poach, pot-roast, reduce, rissole, roast, saute, scallop, sear, shirr, simmer, steam, steam-bake, stew and toast. The latter (1993: 243) adds blanch, charboil, charcoal-broil, coddle, crisp, hardboil, heat, microwave, overcook, percolate, perk, scald, softboil and stir-fry. As far as the present author is concerned, no diachronic study of the cooking verbs has been conducted so far, with the exception of her own articles based on a small sample of recipes (Bator 2013a, 2013c).

The verbs found in the analyzed material describe different cooking methods, from the basic ones, such as boil, fry, roast or bake, to the more specific ones such as broil, toast or stew. Verbs such as burn, scorch and *ouerstep, which describe the degree of cooking, have also been included in the present study.

Cooking verbs are not as numerous in terms of types as the other investigated groups, i.e., verbs of cutting or verbs of preparing, but this group is the most numerous in terms of tokens. They have been subdivided, with reference to the medium in which the action takes place, into:

The last group of verbs refers rather to the degree of...

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