BL: egg-nog
Posted: 15 December 2015 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Ultimately no answer as to its origin, but I did manage to antedate it.

[ Edited: 15 December 2015 06:48 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 15 December 2015 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Orkney and Shetland nugg or nugged ale, a drink warmed with a hot poker.

If I mistake not, a drink (ale or wine) heated with a hot poker is said in English to be “mulled”.  Several dictionaries state that “to mull” means simply to warm up and spice a drink, but I think that’s only part of the story. There are several well-informed posters in this forum who will, I’m sure, either confirm or deny this.

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Posted: 15 December 2015 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’ve updated the entry with some antedatings provided by Ben Zimmer.

And Lionello, I believe you’re conflating two different things in your mind. As far as I know, mulling something has nothing to do with hot pokers.

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Posted: 15 December 2015 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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On a practical note… Egg-nog is basically uncooked custard, and you need to temper it if you’re going to heat it and expect it to remain liquid. Sticking a hot poker right into the basic nog would most likely create something ugly.

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Posted: 15 December 2015 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dave, mulling is indeed to do with hot pokers - put up to a pint of wine or ale in a jug with some sugar and spices, add one red-hot poker, result delicious. One poker won’t heat up more than a pint, so - unless you have another iron in the fire - any bigger quantity of drink will have to be heated in a pan instead. There are people who insist that only heating with a poker is true mulling, and that any wine heated up in a pan is mere ‘negus’; I have no opinion on that myself.

Happydog,you beat me to it - I can’t imagine anything nastier than an eggnog that had had a hot poker shoved into it. If that’s the derivation the word must have gone through at least one intervening phase.

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Posted: 16 December 2015 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Dave, mulling is indeed to do with hot pokers

Only in the sense that you can use a hot poker to mull things if you so choose, but mulling has no more to do with hot pokers than it does with stovetops or microwaves.  To mull is simply (OED, updated 2003) “To warm (wine, beer, etc.) with the addition of sugar, spices, fruit, etc., to produce a hot drink (formerly sometimes thickened with beaten egg yolk).”

There are people who insist that only heating with a poker is true mulling, and that any wine heated up in a pan is mere ‘negus’

There are people who insist all sorts of silly things.  Until those people can produce historical evidence for their assertions, they are mere common or garden peevers.  (N.b.: The etymology of mull is unknown.)

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Posted: 20 December 2015 12:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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mulling has no more to do with hot pokers than it does with stovetops or microwaves

I didn’t say the derivation of the word had anything to do with hot pokers, only that the activity has: for hundreds of years the hot poker was the readiest and therefore commonest means of heating a jug or mug of drink, as illustrated in this citation from the OED:

c1640 Capt. Underwit iv. ii, in A. H. Bullen Coll. Old Eng. Plays (1883) II. 376 What shalls doe with him; this Engine burnes like Etna. Throw him into the River. Hee’s able to mull the Thames well.

- in which ‘mull’ clearly means ‘heat liquid by putting something hot into it’.

Until those people can produce historical evidence for their assertions, they are mere common or garden peevers.

Aren’t you being a bit prescriptive here? If there are people who make that distinction, the distinction exists, surely?

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Posted: 20 December 2015 05:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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The distinction certainly exists, but the word does not code for it. I don’t think that anyone is saying that mulling is never has been done with hot pokers, but the history of the word indicates that it simply means to heat a drink by whatever means. The word has never, in general usage, been restricted to pokers. If one chooses to make that distinction in one’s own use of the word, that’s perfectly fine. But one cannot expect others to understand or conform to that distinction; that is peevery.

And heating on a stove or directly over a fire is a more efficient method than sticking a poker in it (not to mention avoiding getting ash and soot in your drink), which seems more stylish affectation.

As for the 1640 cite, that doesn’t seem to have anything to do with heating drinks, much less with pokers. Mull here simply means “heat;” a person or engine would heat the Thames if he/it were thrown in it. (Exactly what he/engine is cannot be gleaned from the snippet. Google Books, having scanned volume 1 of the work, has decided that no one needs volume 2, so that’s no help.)

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Posted: 20 December 2015 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I didn’t say the derivation of the word had anything to do with hot pokers, only that the activity has

I knew what you meant, and that’s what I was disagreeing with; I simply don’t believe it.

for hundreds of years the hot poker was the readiest and therefore commonest means of heating a jug or mug of drink, as illustrated in this citation from the OED:

c1640 Capt. Underwit iv. ii, in A. H. Bullen Coll. Old Eng. Plays (1883) II. 376 What shalls doe with him; this Engine burnes like Etna. Throw him into the River. Hee’s able to mull the Thames well.

- in which ‘mull’ clearly means ‘heat liquid by putting something hot into it’.

As Dave says, that has nothing to do with pokers.

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Posted: 21 December 2015 10:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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And heating on a stove or directly over a fire is a more efficient method than sticking a poker in it

That’s only true if you live in a modern house. In 17th- and 18th-century houses and taverns, wine, ale and cider was either tapped from a barrel in the pantry or (in poor or small households) fetched from the alehouse in a jug. Either way, it typically came to the dining table or to the parlour in jugs. If the host hadn’t decided beforehand to provide mulled drink for the company and made arrangements accordingly, if some or all of the company decided that they would prefer it hot, just sticking a poker in the jug - or even in a mug, if you were the only person wanting it mulled, or you wanted to adjust the sugar/spice to your preference - was far the simplest method. It didn’t require a pan to be sent for and the fire to be rearranged from ‘flames burning merrily’ into ‘glowing embers’ mode. Also, it allowed drink to be mulled fresh when wanted rather than either stewing away for hours on the fire/stove or being allowed to get cold. And it seems to have been enjoyed as a convivial fireside activity, rather like toasting muffins.

(For ale, an alternative to the poker was the ale boot. But you wouldn’t want to heat wine or cider in one of those, as they would react unpleasantly with the copper. )

not to mention avoiding getting ash and soot in your drink

Doesn’t happen. A red-hot poker comes out of a wood fire clean; I’ve mulled with a poker many, many times and never had a problem with ash.

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Posted: 21 December 2015 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I managed to find the full text of the earliest of the OED-cited sources that looked like it might actually include directions: Elizabeth Raffeld’s The Experienced English Housekeeper, available through Googlebooks (in the US, at least). (Although the date cited in the OED is earlier, this is the 10th ed., 1786.) She has three recipes for mulling beverages. The last recipe is titled, as quoted, “To make mulled wine”, but it seems to be mulled milk (which explains the apparent redundancy of “to mull wine” and “to make mulled wine”.  Actually, the third recipe could pass for non-alcoholic eggnog.

To mull WINE.
GRATE half a nutmeg into a pint of wine, and sweeten it to your taste with loaf sugar, set it over the fire, and when it boils take it off to cool, beat the yolks of four eggs exceeding well, add to them a little cold wine, then mix them carefully with your hot wine, a little at a time, then pour it backwards and forwards several times till it looks fine and bright, then set it on the fire, and heat it a little at a time for several times till it is quite hot and pretty thick, and pour it backwards and forwards several times; then send it in chocolate cups, and serve it up with dry toast cut in long narrow pieces.

To mull ALE.
TAKE a pint of good strong ale, put it into a saucepan, with three or four cloves, nutmeg and sugar to your taste, set it over the fire, when it boils take it off to cool, beat the yolks of four eggs very well, and mix them with a little cold ale, then put it to your warm ale, and pour it in and out of your pan for several times, then set it over a slow fire and heat it a little, then take it off again and heat it two or three times till it is quite hot, then serve it up with dry toast.

To make mulled WINE.
BOIL a quart of new milk five minutes with a stick of cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar to your taste, then take it off the fire and let it stand to cool, beat the yolks of fix eggs very well, and mix them with a little cold cream, then mix them with your milk, and pour it backwards and forwards the same as you do mulled ale, and send it to the table with a plate of biscuits.

If the search function is to be trusted, the word “poker” does not occur in the book.

[ Edited: 21 December 2015 05:06 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 22 December 2015 01:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The recipe for mulled wine is a recipe for egg-nog but the instructions for mulling wine are for what we know as mulled wine.  I wonder what they called it then?

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Posted: 23 December 2015 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I strongly suspect that either a phrase such as ‘add a pint of the best Rhenish wine’ is missing, or that the title is a simple error, either by Mrs Raffald or the typesetter; compositional errors such as misspellings and missing words are commonplace enough in 18th-century cookery books to make either quite plausible.

In the 18th century I’d normally expect that kind of mixture to be called a caudle, or possibly a posset. Caudles and possets were considered strengthening drinks; they were made for sick or weakly people but also might be served for breakfast (presumably for people expecting a hard day). They often, but not always, included some wine, ale, rum or brandy.

If the search function is to be trusted, the word “poker” does not occur in the book.

It doesn’t, and you wouldn’t expect it to. Nobody in the 18th century wrote cookery books for people who didn’t know how to cook; authors such as Mrs Raffald and Hannah Glasse were writing for people who already knew the basics and needed to know more, such as kitchen-maids hoping to become cooks, ‘plain cooks’ hoping to get more prestigious work, and married ladies whose needed to know what dishes were fashionable or how to instruct their cook to use new exotic ingredients. And even today, the kind of mulling that took place in the parlour - ‘Take jug or mug of drink. Add as much sugar was you want and what spices you prefer. Stick poker in till hot’ - would barely be dignified with the term ‘recipe’.  The reason all of Mrs Raffald’s mulling recipes include eggs or milk and cream is not that drinks were always mulled with them - they weren’t - but that if you want to heat alcohol with eggs or milk and cream you can only do that in a pan, and you need precise proportions of ingredients and some skilled attention. In other words, these are drinks that would need to be made in the kitchen by the cook.

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