Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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fool a simple mixture of mashed fruit, raw or cooked as appropriate, with whipped cream, has long been a popular British dessert. It is a dish particularly suited to being made with acid northern fruits: gooseberries, raspberries, rhubarb, damsons, etc.

The name ‘fool’ is thought to be derived from the French fouler (to mash). So it is reasonable to suppose that the idea of mashed fruit was there from the start. However, one of the earliest fools, Norfolk fool, popular during the 17th century, contained no fruit. It was a rich boiled custard made with cream, eggs, sugar, and spices. (The dish known as ‘white pot’ was a variant of this, which might be thickened with breadcrumbs as well as egg and often contained currants. It was often called ‘Devonshire whitepot’, Devon being a principal dairy farming county.)