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A New (Old) Food Word You Should Know

Photo credit: WOOP Studios

One to add to the lexicon: a temperance of cooks. 

Thanks to British graphic design firm WOOP Studios, we’ve learned this fifteenth-century phrase, a collective noun referring to a group of chefs. As WOOP puts it: “Temperance arose from the Old English temperian, which meant to bring something to a required condition by mixing it with something else. In so doing, the temperer is in need of a modicum of moderation, skill, and foresight—which are all perfect qualities for a cook.”

Edible Geography notes that the term may have at times been used sarcastically, given the stereotype of hard-living cooks as being in need of “temperance”—”a typically sweet-and-sour, backhanded British compliment, combining an appreciation of the cook’s skill with a sly dig at the profession.” But we think that view applies less today.

Sure, historically, cooking has been a blue-collar profession, but with the rise of restaurant culture and food television, the profession of “cook” has risen in esteem. Think of Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain: both started low on the restaurant kitchen totem pole, but both are now so popular that they’ve hosted TV shows only peripherally having to do with food. If you need further proof, remember that “celebrity chef” is a term that we all use with relative ease. 

So! Temperance of cooks. Try using it in a sentence today.

[WOOP Studios via Edible Geography]