Sippets, Croutons, and Rusks

Sippets, according to Alan Davidson, are “small sops of fried or toasted bread used to garnish broths, soups, gravy or meat.” The word grenki in Russian can refer to sippets or croutons. The custom goes back to the Middle Ages when trenchers of bread served as plates and were meant to be eaten at the end of a meal (by the poor if not the diners themselves.) The two items differ in size and shape, but not in purpose—croutons are small cubes, sippets are usually flat slices of bread. Molokhovets used rusks for sops as well. In the United States, melba toast, Dutch rusks, and packaged croutons nowadays serve some of the same purposes. (Glasse, Art of Cookery, 200; for a discussion of sippets including both historical and modern preparations, see Spurling, Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book, 92–93.)