Comfits

In today’s One Big Happy, Ruthie once again understands a rare and unusual expression (the word comfit) in terms more familiar to her:

  (#1)

I very much doubt that I knew the word comfit when I was 6.

From Wikipedia:

Comfits are confectionery consisting of dried fruits, nuts, seeds or spices coated with sugar candy, often through sugar panning. Almond comfits (also known as “sugar almonds” or “Jordan almonds”) in a muslin bag or other decorative container, are a traditional gift at baptism and wedding celebrations in many countries of Europe and the Middle East, a custom which has spread to other countries such as Australia and Puerto Rico. While licorice comfits (also known as torpedoes because of their shape) are multi-coloured, almond comfits are usually white for weddings but may be brightly coloured for other occasions.

A late medieval recipe for comfits is based on anise seeds, and suggests also making comfits with fennel, caraway, coriander, and diced ginger. These aniseed comfits seem to be a precursor of modern aniseed balls.

Though I didn’t know the word comfit at the age of 6, I certainly did know Jordan almond then, and was fond of them:

  (#2)

While I’m into food vocabulary, here’s dragée; from Wikipedia:

A dragée is a bite-sized, colorful form of confectionery with a hard outer shell — which is often used for another purpose (e.g. decorative, symbolic, medicinal, etc.) in addition to consumption purely for enjoyment.

A classic form of dragée and comfit, Jordan almonds, also known as mlabas, sugared almonds, confetti, or koufeta consist of almonds which are sugar panned in various pastel colors.

(According to NOAD2, the Jordan almond has has nothing to to with Jordan the country; jordan is apparently from French or Spanish jardin ‘garden’.)

But the dragées I’ve been long familiar with are not hard-shelled candies but chocolate confections filled with liqueur or liquor: Irish Cream, egg brandy, Advocaat, rum, whisky, cognac, etc. (from various suppliers).

One Response to “Comfits”

  1. rjp Says:

    The Mentos I get from the local pound shop are itemised on the packet as “dragees” – the description certainly fits.

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