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Twitter User Explains Centuries-old French connection Behind Popular Names of Animal Meats

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

A Twitter user named Floyd listed the sequence of events that led to the derivation of the now commonly used names of animal meats.

Even the things that look simple upfront are not one dimensional when you dig more about them. Take, for example, the logic behind naming the animal meats. Did it ever cross your mind that why popular meat items are named differently from their source animals? Why does pig meat become pork? Or why is the animal cow, but the meat is termed beef? Or for a calf, it becomes veal? Well, you might think that it’s how things had been always but no, the simple names of these animals’ meats have a history behind them. Sharing the details in an interesting tweet thread, a user named Floyd (floydian_sleep) list the sequence of events that led to the derivation of the now commonly used names of animal meats.

Behind the names is a tussle of power between two European kings. In 1066 AD, when King of England Edward the confessor died, his throne was claimed by his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson. His stint as the king was marred with a lot of bloodsheds. He had to face his own brother Tostig in the battleground. Godwinson first defeated Tostig and Hardrada of Norway in the battle of Stamford Bridge.

But a bigger problem for him was brewing in the south, the Duke of Normandy William, the conqueror, who thought of himself as the right heir of King Edward, attacked Godwinson and eventually killed him at the Battle of Hastings ending the Anglo-Saxon rule over England. King William led the foundation of Normal Rule of England and with him, came all his French Nobility and French Chefs from Normandy. They together were having a great time enjoying good food and wine in their newly conquered territory.

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Now, here comes the connection between this battle and animal meat names. Most of the working class of England still consisted of Anglo Saxons people, many of whom were responsible for managing the produce that the French would use in their cooking. So, the animals that were hunted and killed by the Anglo-Saxon working class were still known by the common Old English name like pigge (pig) and cuw (cow) and so on. For the French, these names became unacceptable and they changed them to French names as a show of their dominance over the English people. So, piggie became Porc and Cuw became Boieuf and so on. With years of use in common practice, the names finally reached their present forms.

Well, needless to say, this is definitely an interesting chapter on food history, something which will fascinate people.

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first published:June 29, 2021, 17:05 IST