[Sca-cooks] Pepper Mill: A Puzzle

Gretchen Beck grm at andrew.cmu.edu
Sat Jan 12 21:38:08 PST 2008

--On Saturday, January 12, 2008 9:47 PM -0600 Terry Decker 
<t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net> wrote:

> The hand mill is probably, but not necessarily, a saddle quern.  What is
> the  pepper mill?  A mortar and pestle, or some more interesting device?
> I  haven't had much luck finding any further information.

I'm not sure if this is useful or not, but I found this quote in the 
footnotes to "Catholicon anglicum: an English-Latin wordbook, dated 1483", 
published in 1881:

"Querne. Mola, Moletrina, Pistrilla, Trusatilis mola. Trusatile is for 
malte or mustarde, bycause it is turned with the hande. Querne for pepper. 
Pistellum' Hulcet. This suggests, perhaps, a mortar and pestle.

The OED dates the word "Pepper mill" as a fairly late (16th or 17thC) 
adoption from german or dutch, and notes that the usual term prior is 
pepper quern. There is this quote that they identify as from an old english 
recipe: Grinde reades caules sædes ane handfulle on piporcwyrna.

In addition, while I haven't been able to track down the Latin, the quote 
is from Neckam's Libro de Utensilibus -- knowing the original latin might 
help point to a more precise description of the instrument.

Hope this helps.

toodles, margaret

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