While working on a recent issue of our magazine, we ran across the word “syllabub.” No, not like, “Hey bully boy bubba, how many syllabulls do you think this word has?” but more like “My favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the traditional syllabub.”



From the Oxford English Dictionary:
A drink or dish made of milk (freq. as drawn from the cow) or cream, curdled by the admixture of wine, cider, or other acid, and often sweetened and flavoured.

A later variation, known as an Everlasting Syllabub, adds a stabilizer such as gelatin or corn starch.


detail, “The Sense of Taste” by Philip Mercier (circa 1689-1760)

“Lemon Syllabub”
from The Experienced English Housekeeper, by Elizabeth Raffald, London 1784

Put a pint of cream to a pint of white wine, then rub a quarter of a pound of loaf sugar upon the out rind of two lemons, till you have got out all the essence, then put the sugar to the cream, and squeeze in the juice of both lemons, let it stand for two hours, then mill them with a chocolate mill, to raise the froth, and take it off with a spoon as it rises, or it will make it heavy, lay it upon a hair sieve to drain, then fill your glasses with the remainder, and lay on the froth as high as you can, let them stand all night and they will be clear at the bottom.~

Wine pudding? Not so sure about that. And I’ve mislaid my hair sieve …

But leave it to my favorite British cook, Nigella Lawson, to provide us with a very yummy-sounding modern adaptation, Turkish Delight Syllabub, that uses orange liqueur instead, topped with pistachios. That’s something I could wrap my spoon around! Now, if only I can get Sally O’Malley to draw me a picture and figure out what an admixture is!


Nigella Lawson, Turkish Delight Syllabub



Word Quiz!

Word quiz time!

I stumbled across an old favorite poem, “Rice Pudding,” by A.A. Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame), and the following lines inspired me to craft this, er, cantankerous little quiz:

“What is the matter with Mary Jane?

She’s crying with all her might and main,

And she won’t eat her dinner—rice pudding again—

What is the matter with Mary Jane?”



So, with Milne’s Mary Jane in mind, match the terms below with their meanings, listed further below. But don’t click on “read more” until you’re ready for the answers.

I’ll give you one hint: all of the words are nouns that refer to people with certain, shall we say … unsavory dispositions.


1. blatherskite

2. snollygoster

3. makebate

4. mumpsimus

5. kibitzer

6. mullygrubber

7. fabulist


A. a grump

B. someone who incites quarrels

C. a person given to voluble, empty talk

D. a clever, unscrupulous person

E. a liar

F. a giver of uninvited or unwanted advice, or someone who jokes, chitchats, or makes wisecracks

G. someone who holds stubbornly to a viewpoint in spite of clear evidence that it’s wrong



Continue reading


It’s not every day that one happens upon a word as fabulous as:


I mean, really, it’s almost addictive—you can’t help but giggle when you say it …


Try it three times fast and see if you can keep a straight face.

Something of an unsung onomatopoeia, flibbertigibbet (see, I had to say it again) refers to a talkative, flighty, “light-headed” person. While its origin is obscure, tells us that this 15th-century term “is thought have been formed as an imitative representation of the sound of chatter or gossip.”

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?



Of course, here and now, amid the modernity of the 21st century, we politely shy away from placing gender restrictions upon our adjectives, but, for the record, flibbertigibbet is generally reserved for young women. So, I suppose this would be more fitting …


Photo by HerbertT via Wikimedia Commons

And, speaking of poultry, you may recall the gabbling goose in E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web declaring, “I am no Flibberty-ibberty-gibbet.”


Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Perhaps the one instance of flibbertigibbet’s utterance that packs the most parodic panache, however, is this (click to listen) …

Unless you’re one of the few devoted fans of the 1990 film Joe Versus the Volcano …


Theatrical release poster courtesy of Wikimedia

… you may not recognize the satirically sultry speaker as actress Meg Ryan, playing the ravishing (if a bit bird-brained) redhead, Angelica Graynamore.

Your turn to get flibbertigibbety. Cluck away in the comments, dear hens.