Fricassee: Meat cut into pieces and stewed in gravy.
Fricassee of Words: Musings on food-inspired expressions, words and word play, with occasional bits and pieces of kitchen jargon too.
Don’t stir the pot, go fry an egg, two eggs in a basket are better than one hen in the bush… you get the picture by now, and here is today’s food-inspired expression for us to pick at.
Let Me Mull This Over
Meaning – To ponder carefully, study or ruminate.
Earlier today, on our Facebook page, we said, “It’s time for another Fricasee of Words post on our blog. Is there a food expression you’d like us to write about? Be a good egg, let us know!”
Our nearly daily Facebook sparring friend, Bob Arthur, cleverly responded, “I’m still mulling over whether or not to come by for those Chicken Enchiladas.” To which we could not resist adding, “Don’t stew over it too much… serving lunch till 3!” Thus began a search for the origin of the expression, to mull over.
At first glance, we might associate “mulling over” with the act of heating and flavoring with spices, as in mulled cider or wine. In truth, the term “mulling” comes from the grain milling industry. By the late 1800’s, the expression was adopted when referring to mental grinding.
The act of mulling refers to turning an idea or problem over in one’s mind. There is a sense of action here; action that transforms a puzzling idea, concept or request into more easily digestible parts. It is much like when we are told to chew our food 20 times before swallowing, thus making it easier for the body to process. Though surely it is possible to mull something over until we turn blue in the face.
Come to think of it, then, mulling over may convey a sense of action, but it does not actually convey one of resolution, does it? Like the cow, it is possible to just stand there, ruminating.
Indeed, ruminating is a common synonym for mulling over. It is also something cows are better equipped to accomplish. They have 4 stomachs after all. Perhaps we need 4 brains in order to be truly successful with all our mulling over.
In any case, mulling over surely works in the end. We eventually make up our minds, not necessarily because we have come to any finite conclusion, but merely because we are tired of ruminating. This is good food for thought, anyway.
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