Wise to the Word: Sweet

Jim Hillibish

Cooking terms may not mean what they seem. “Sweet” to most of us indicates a presence of sugar. Not in cooking. “Sweet” can mean lack of hot flavor.

The word separates foods offered in spicy and nonspicy versions, such as peppers, sausage, paprika and on and on. It often is found in flavorings such as sweet butter, sweet oregano and sweet basil. None of these, incidentally, is sugary or peppery.

“Sweet” has evolved. About 100 years ago, something was “sweet” that was not spoiled or rancid, such as sweet milk and sweet cream. Refrigeration and the need for a positive marketing description changed its focus.

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