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18 July 2006

Today's Dictionary Special - Cullen Skink

by Paul Gallacher, Press & Journal

Date : 18.07.06
Cullen skink, the renowned north-east fish soup, has made many appearances in recipe books over the years. But its place in the English language is now also truly secure, after becoming an entry for the first time in the Oxford English Dictionary.Some of the world's foremost linguists have decided that the soup, born on the shores of the Moray Firth, is worthy of inclusion in their pages, and Cullen skink is among the hundreds of new additions to the latest online edition.

The definition could even function as a basic recipe, as the noun is described as "a Scottish soup made from smoked haddock, potatoes, onions and milk."'Skink' itself is centuries old but, according to the OED, the Cullen variation is a relatively recent coinage, dating from the 1980s. It derives from the village on the Moray coast, while 'skink', a soup made from shin of beef, probably comes from the Middle Low German word Schinke, meaning ham.

Its new status has been welcomed in a parliamentary motion tabled by Banff and Buchan MSP Stewart Stevenson, which describes Cullen skink as "a widely recognised and excellent expression of Scotland's fishing and food industries."

Mr Stevenson is currently in Venice and said yesterday he hoped the dictionary would spread the soup's renown.He added that, while there was a variety of recipes, the ingredients as defined formed the basis of what most people would recognise as Cullen skink.

"It is an important and distinctive dish that draws on haddock from our Scottish fishing industry," he said.

"It is, of course, a particularly healthy dish that, if it was more widely eaten, would undoubtedly benefit anyone who did so.

"I'm glad that, even in Oxford, they have come to realise the benefits and attraction of Cullen skink. The dictionary is a good place to start and the Oxford English Dictionary is one of the most authoritative in the world.

"Having Cullen skink added to that dictionary gives new and important status to a very widely recognised and widely consumed local dish."

SNP fisheries spokesman Richard Lochhead, who has Cullen in his Moray constituency, said: "Cullen skink is famous the world over and helps put both Cullen and our fishing industry on the map, so it's good that it's getting even further recognition and the ingredients in the dictionary's definition sound just about right."

Joseph Church, project and communications executive with Seafood Scotland, said: "The more people that know about Cullen skink the better.It's a very traditional Scottish delicacy but a lot of people not from Scotland may not have heard of it, so this is great news."

Cullen skink may be rooted in tradition but it takes its place in the OED at the same time as other very 21st-century additions, such as the verb 'Google', meaning to use the internet search engine to find information, and also 'text', an abbreviated term for sending a mobile phone message.

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