Over-egging the pudding

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on May 12, 2009 at 21:43

In Reply to: Over-egging the pudding posted by RRC on May 11, 2009 at 16:29:

: : With reference to an earlier discussion about 'Over-Egging the Pudding', the Egg in question means to agitate or excite (from Anglo-Saxon eggian). The word only means urge or incite as applied to people. Furthermore the pudding in question probably refers to the entrails of animal, often made into pies, sausages etc. Indeed 'Pudding' appears to derive from a french word meaning a kind of sausage. Thus would not contain egg at all.

: So Yan, how did we get from "over excite the sausage" to the current meaning of "to spoil something by trying too hard to improve it". Putting too many eggs in your dessert perfectly explains the meaning.

The word "pudding" derives, via the French "boudin", from the Latin "botellus" meaning the small intestine. Thus, a pudding originally was indeed a sausage. However, early in the Middle Ages the meaning was extended to include any mixture of sloppy ingredients cooked (like modern stuffing) inside a container such as a sheep's stomach, a fowl, a hollowed-out carrot, or what-have-you. Such pudding mixtures were frequently thickened with egg as early as the 14th century. And by the 18th century, after the invention of the pudding cloth and the pudding basin, puddings evolved that owed their consistency to eggs, such as the Yorkshire and bread-and-butter puddings.

Like RRC, I defy you to come up with a sensible meaning for "over-excite the sausage". But any cook can tell you what happens if you say "Hmm, I'm not sure if two eggs is enough, I'll put in three just to be on the safe side".