Somewhere, someone might read the title of this post and shiver… I was looking at a collection of comments about what people hate in books, and one person said the word ‘gingerly’. I can’t really see why it might upset or offend, although I know that ginger-haired people suffer a lot of teasing, abuse, and in some case prejudice.

The word gingerly, I wouldn’t have thought  could offend – it looks as if it might be related to the word ginger, but it isn’t. Ginger comes from the name of the spice, which is actually a root, The root of the root is from Ancient Greek, and which may have come before that from an Indic language; it became zingiberi in Latin and later changed to gingiber. Gingerly, however which appeared in the 1300’s, comes from a word which also gave us gentle and at first meant daintily before it came to mean cautiously. Doing something gingerly I guess  would be doing it gently and cautiously.

Ginger is a favourite flavour for me, so I guess I would like to visit places named after it – Ginger in Washington, State, Ginger Island which is one of the British Virgin Islands, and the Ginger Islands in Antarctica. I think people would be more sensitive now about actually being called Ginger, but in the past it wasn’t so and examples are characters in books such as Ginger Hebblethwaite in Biggles and William Brown’s pal in the William books.

I’ve just been writing something and used the word ‘gingerly’ which made me think about this – I don’t think I’ll ever write it again without thinking of the anonymous person who shudders at the word!

As it’s nearly the time for eating parkin, here’s a recipe for Yorkshire Parkin – that gorgeous dark sticky ginger cake:

  • ¼ lb flour
  • ¾ lb oatmeal
  • ½ lb treacle
  • 2 oz lard/butter.margarine
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  1. Mix the first three ingredients together
  2. work in the last three ingredients
  3. pour into a flat tin and bake in a slow oven, 150 C, 350 F,  gas mark 2

Although this recipe didn’t specify a time, I would say about 35mins, or a bit longer, but you don’t want it too dry, you want it moist and gooey, so better under-baked than over!

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