[Sca-cooks] Obleys and Wafers

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Fri Jun 15 12:39:28 PDT 2007

On Jun 15, 2007, at 1:32 PM, Suey wrote:

> What is the difference? I thought they were the same.
> Suey

Generally speaking, they're similar. It can become confusing when  
either term is borrowed from one language into another, or when a  
translator decides for whatever reason to use one term or the other.  
Speaking _very_ generally, and I'm sure there will be exceptions, I'd  
say the main difference is that sometimes obleys/oubleys refers to a  
form of offertory or sacrificial cake (I think this is from a Greek  
word denoting exactly such a cake), that could be offered to a god on  
an altar (presumably burnt) or to the god's priests to eat. Sometimes  
obley also refers to the Christian communion bread, which is also  
often, but not always, a wafer. I'm not certain that obleys are  
always cooked between two irons, while wafers pretty much are,  
without exception, as far as I know. I believe I've seen recipes for  
obleys that are cooked between irons are which are probably  
functionally identical to wafers, but I've also seen lots of  
references to obleys where we have no such assurance; for all I know  
they could be baked in the hearth ashes wrapped in a leaf or  
something like that.

Again, very generally, I think most English-speaking people  
interested in history or food history probably think of obleys as a  
small cake which may or may not have a religious significance,  
whereas a wafer generally would not have an assumed religious  
connotation, unless specifically qualified by saying, for example,  
"communion wafer".

I'd say that in general, the terms are often assumed to be  
interchangeable, but in fact probably not 100% identical. It probably  
depends on the culture you're dealing with.


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