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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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omelette a French word which came into currency in the mid-16th century but had been preceded by other forms, e.g. alumelle, which are littered along a trail leading all the way from the Latin lamella, ‘small thin plate’, suggesting something thin and round. Cotgrave, in his dictionary of 1611, recorded its arrival in England in this entry: ‘Haumelotte: f. An Omelet, or Pancake of egges.’ He thus preferred the spelling which is used in N. America as opposed to the French spelling ending in -ette which is generally used in Britain. It is safe to assume that the word had been around for a while before 1611. It is anyway safe to assume that omelettes had been around in recognizable form in both France and England and elsewhere too from early medieval times, since the concept of frying beaten eggs in butter in a pan is as simple as it is brilliant.