In a move that caught me
by surprise, the word junket came up several times during last Tuesday’s
program. I mentioned that it had been one of my least favorite childhood
desserts because of its slimy texture. Jim from Petoskey mentioned that, in contrast,
he had loved it, especially the maple-flavored variety. Marge from Suttons Bay
called in to praise the type used in pie fillings—above all, for raspberry pie,
The discussion started
with mention of the political junket, a trip taken by a politician at taxpayer
expense, something universally abhorred by civilians. It evolved from junket used to describe a picnic—or, indoors—a
Originally, junket was
the word for a basket made of woven rushes. It was used to carry fresh fish.
Later, it referred to a rush mat upon which a cream cheese mixture was placed.
Its predecessor was the
Italian giuncata, a cream cheese that
was sold in rush baskets. That, in turn, evolved from the Latin juncata, cream cheese, which was
indebted to junca, rushes.
So, the container and
the thing contained became inextricably intertwined. How can we know the dancer from
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