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Nibbles and sneads

A word in a NYT article threw me right out today. The women Senators of the US congress dine together once a month. At a recent dinner, they "nibbled on bread pudding".

Would men have "nibbled"? Or is the author emphasizing dainty feminine eating?

What does "bread pudding" connotate for US readers? Is it exotically British? Is it homely and comforting? Is it currently trendy? I have no idea.

Is "nibbled" even a good verb for a squishy dish? I was so uncertain that I turned to Webster's second international for help. (The answer is that yes, of course one can nibble on bread pudding. It's not a drink.)

A "nib" is, among its other meanings, a synonym for a handle on a snath. A snath can also be a snead. But, just to be confusing, a snead can also be a whipsocket. Happily, a whipsocket is exactly what it sounds like it should be: a socket for a whip.

All that was from a dictionary, but an online post clarified the relationship between snath and snead:
The scythe, without the blade is the Snath
The snath without the handles is a Snead
The handle on the sneed which make it a snath so it can become a scythe
is a Thole.

So a nib can be a thole, at least when it's on a snath?

Somehow, I doubt the grain which went that senatorial bread pudding was harvested by using the snath of a scythe. But the Senators tholed the pudding (since "thole" is also a verb meaning "to endure"), and hopefully enjoyed it too.



( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2013 05:47 am (UTC)
What delightful old words. They sound like wholesome hard work, don't they?

I do not think you can 'nibble' bred pudding. I think of nibbling as for little bits of snacks, like deviled eggs, or for crunchy things, like crackers.

I also think they would not have described men as 'nibbling.' they could just have said 'eating.'

I think bread pudding is kind of trendy now. Years ago you never saw it for sale. Now it is around a lot. I hope it stays. I like it. When faced with some, I for sure do not nibble!
Mar. 23rd, 2013 08:28 am (UTC)
Thole is hardly ever used in England but is used in the north of Scotland. "A cannae thole it any longer." is a phrase I probably used an a pretentious nine year old, before we moved south.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 08:40 am (UTC)
You can no more nibble bread pudding than you can a steak. Unless you are a mouse.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 10:19 am (UTC)
The title of this post made me think it was about Dr. Seuss. :)
Mar. 23rd, 2013 11:25 am (UTC)
What wonderful old words! We have a scythe and now, thanks to you, I know what all the parts are called. :)

Regarding "nibbling", I always take that to meant that you nip little bits off with your teeth. The only way to do this politely is if you are holding something. So you could nibble sandwiches or biscuits, but not things that are eaten with a spoon.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 01:50 pm (UTC)
My feeling is that the NYT's use of such a connnotative word as "nibble" (which to me means "eat delicately") is quite closely related to the fact that the eaters were a group of women. More neutrally, they could have said "ate" or "had". Perhaps this is everyday sexism, or perhaps it was an attempt to be somehow courtly on the part of the article writer (that may well be everyday sexism in itself of course). I find myself slightly wishing the writer had used "devoured" or "chomped on"... :)
Mar. 23rd, 2013 08:39 pm (UTC)
You'd think, given that it's the New York Times, that they could have noshed on the pudding.

For me "nibble" also means that probably a good portion was left behind afterwards (you don't nibble an entire bag of chips), so I'm guessing that the bread pudding was endured.

(And yes, it does seem to be a bit trendy or growing more common on restaurant menus in the US these days.)
Mar. 23rd, 2013 03:22 pm (UTC)
It's definitely considered infra dig for north american high status women to eat. I'll loan you Revolution at the Table. Lots of good stuff about taming food and appetite.
Mar. 23rd, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
Were I described as I ate bread pudding, the word used would be "devoured."
Mar. 23rd, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
I agree that nibble was used because they are women. I've always thought of bread pudding as a quintessentially American (southern) comfort food. Didn't realize it could also be considered typically British.
Mar. 25th, 2013 02:23 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that the American bread pudding is the same thing as either the British (English?) bread pudding or the British (English?) bread-and-butter pudding, although they seem to belong in the same genre.
Mar. 29th, 2013 12:07 am (UTC)
The last bread pudding I saw (and ate!) at Whitecross St markets in London was an absolute brick, about 10x5x3 cm, probably about 500g, and I have to say I nibbled it - not because I was being in any way dainty but because there was really no other way to tackle it.
Apr. 5th, 2013 03:19 pm (UTC)
I would also nibble a bread pudding, although that is generally due to the brick like dimensions of said desert.
Or eat it with a fork, spoon and custard.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )