Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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udder one of the foods which is doing a slow disappearing act, at least in western countries. Cow’s udder, boiled to prepare it for consumption, counts as a form of tripe; it is called elder in Britain and tétine de veau in French triperies.

The term elder appears to be Middle Dutch, and was probably first recorded in Ray’s North Country Words (1674). It was used mainly in the north and north-west of Britain, but appeared also in Scotland and Ireland.

Not surprisingly, little is known of its history. Though udder appears to be first mentioned as a food in 1474 (OED), its finest hour came on 11 October 1660, when Samuel Pepys in the company of his wife and Mr Creed, dining at the Leg in King Street, thought sufficiently of their ‘good udder to dinner’ to record it in his diary. That at least assured a place for it in posterity and the OED.