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Mincemeat

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Mincemeat

Postby Slava » Thu Jan 09, 2014 9:08 am

Here's the AWOL word of the day from the seventh:
Dr. Goodword wrote:

• mincemeat •


Pronunciation: mins-meet • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Chopped fruit and nuts mixed with spices, sometimes with rum or brandy, often used as a pie filling. 2. Finely chopped or ground meat, minced meat. 3. Tiny bits of anything, complete destruction, as to make mincemeat of someone's vase or argument.

Notes: Have you ever noticed, as did today's recommender, that mincemeat pie contains no meat? Today's Word History will explain why that is. Mincemeat pies, quite popular in the English-speaking world, today contain highly spiced, finely chopped dried fruit and nuts.

In Play: This good word comes to us from the vocabulary of culinary art: "I love any kind of dessert, but my favorite is mincemeat pie." It may be used hyperbolically to indicate total destruction: "My cellphone makes mincemeat of conversations. I guess I need a new one."

Word History: Meat originally referred to all kinds of "food", and that sense has been retained in mincemeat and the phrase "meat and drink". This sense was narrowed to "meat" around 1300. A similar narrowing of meaning occurred in French viande "meat", originally "food". Mince is from Old French mincier "to chop into small bits", from Vulgar (Street) Latin minutiare "make small, reduce". This word comes from Late Latin minutiae "small bits", derived from Latin minutus "small, minute", the past participle of minuere "to lessen, reduce". The root of all these words was originally mein- "small". It appears again in Russian men'she "less, fewer", which went into the making of Menshevik "member of a minority party". In Latin it emerged in minister "an inferior, a servant" and, in French, in menu. (We must thank Diane Ament for noticing that mincemeat pie contains no meat, which led her to recommend today's Good Word.)
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Jan 13, 2014 4:59 pm

George Kovac shared this memory with me on the occasion of the publication of the Good Word mincemeat:

A childhood memory of Thanksgiving is that my mother would always make a pumpkin pie and a mincemeat pie. The filling came from the store in a box labeled with the word “mincemeat.” I asked my mischievous older brother “What is mince meat?” He cruelly told me that a “mince” was a small monkey, and I was horrified.

That brand of filling is still sold in grocery stores, but several years ago they started calling it “mince” instead of “mincemeat.” I guess the marketing folks decided small boys and ordinary consumers are unable to digest the etymology.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jan 13, 2014 6:50 pm

On one of those afternoon TV talkshows
a lady, a school teacher at that, mentioned to Dr. Fiddlefax
that she had a group of very mischievous boys in her
class and wanted to know what she could do to outprank them.

A teacher should know better, but I attributed it to the dumbing down of America's school system. Dr. F told her there was nothing she could do, you cannot out-prank young boys. Leave
them alone, they will eventually go too far and outprank
themselves. Similar to the company selling just "Mince".
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby Philip Hudson » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:43 am

I haven't had a mincemeat pie in ages. In my experience, prepared mincemeat bought at the market also has s dollop of suet in it to hold it together. In England the cuisine (Do the English have a cuisine?) seems to have a lot of suet dripping around. Hey, it’s cow fat! Us rednecks use hog lard.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby LukeJavan8 » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:03 pm

Hereabouts it's very difficult to find suet. Have to order
it specially.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:06 am

Suet wouldn't be minced.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:42 pm

Then what is mincemeat?
Hereabouts suet is what is used in the pie, if it is used at all
and it must be special ordered.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby David McWethy » Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:55 am

Dr. G.’s assertion that
“Mincemeat pies, quite popular in the English-speaking world,.. contain highly spiced, finely chopped dried fruit and nuts...(but today’s) mincemeat pie contains no meat”

reminds me of former President Clinton’s pirouette-response as he danced around giving a straight answer with “it all depends on what your definition of “is”, is.

If one was narrowly examining the parameters of the current use of “mincemeat pies”, I would have been initially willing to concede that the number of mothers (or grandmothers) who still, today, make their minced-meat filling as my mother did (by slow-cooking the toughest—but affordable—cuts of meat and then running them through a hand-cranked sausage grinder until the result had the consistency of super-lean hamburger; then mixing this with finely diced apples, raisins, brandy, cinnamon, allspice, & nutmeg) could be counted on the fingers of one finger.

But that was before I did a spot of researching, and found the “Where’s the beef!?” recipe for Blue Ribbon Mincemeat Pie Filling at: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/ with two of the top three Google links containing these introductory remarks:

“Never knew there was real meat in mincemeat did you? There's ground beef, raisins, apples, brandy, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lots and lots of sugar”; and


"This traditional mincemeat pie filling really includes the meat, in the form of ground beef….(as well as suet -- plus all the delicious other flavors of apples, etc.)".


Even such a plebian but nevertheless respected source as Wikipedia noted that the ingredients of “mince-” / “mincemeat-" pie
“are traceable to the 13th century, when returning European crusaders brought with them Middle Eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices." (Emphasis added).

I didn't pursue checking out whether any of the commercially-available mincemeat pie fillings had meat in them, but would be willing to wager a small amount that "the real stuff" is available from some of the up-scale on-line shops.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby bamaboy56 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:16 am

I am familiar with suet, but here in the part of 'bama I'm in it's primarily used for bird feeding. Don't think I've ever seen it used in mincemeat. Just saying.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby David McWethy » Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:11 am

According to Wikipedia, suet is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys. While it is indeed used as bird- or squirrel-food in its natural form, it's most often used for that purpose by rendering it down into a liquid form, which is poured over birdseed, creating a binder when cooled.

Suet's concentrated energy also makes it a common ingredient in high-carb energy foods for mountain climbers.

Suet can be bought in natural form in many supermarkets. As it is the fat from around the kidneys, the connective tissue, blood and other non-fat items must be removed. It then needs to be coarsely grated to make it ready to use. It must be kept refrigerated prior to use and used within a few days of purchase, just like meat. Suet should not be confused with beef dripping, which is the collected fat and juices from the roasting pan when cooking roast beef. Suet should also not be confused with all beef or sheep fat. It is normally the fat found around the heart and kidneys of cattle and sheep, and nowhere else in the animals.


And after a little bit of further digging I discovered that None Such brand "Classic Original Mincemeat" with meat is available in 27-ounce jars at the ubiquitous Wal-Mart.

So I feel vindicated: Minced-meat mincemeat may not be the most common way that mincemeat is made in the land of William Penn, but it's certainly too mainstream to be dismissed out of hand with an imperious "[today’s] mincemeat pie contains no meat”.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby LukeJavan8 » Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:33 pm

I make plum pudding and mince meat pie and they both
require suet.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby misterdoe » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:17 am

David McWethy wrote:Suet's concentrated energy also makes it a common ingredient in high-carb energy foods for mountain climbers.

I wonder if that's the stuff that makes so many of those bars taste like ground-up vitamin pills. :?
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:40 pm

With more than a smidgen of sawdust.
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:31 pm

As with the troglodyte song, I went backwards in time to my childhood via Youtube. There I found the Hut Sut Song with these lyrics: “ Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla, brawla sooit, Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah and a brawla sooit.”
It was a much more pleasant journey down memory lane than the Troglodyte Song turned out to be. It is from the time where nonsense songs were the rage and it surely has nothing to do with the hard beef fat put in mincemeat. But if you are an octogenarian, or younger but weird, you might enjoy listening to Sammy Kaye and the Hut-Sut Song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P9EiTmI0Wic
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Re: Mincemeat

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:31 pm

Forgot all about that song for decades, good to hear it again.
Thanks.
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