“Omelettes cannot be
made without breaking eggs.”
I quote the words of my big dictionary.
My omelettes usually taste
something like made out of sheet metal.
And that’s an indication of where the word comes from.
go back to the Roman times.
The Romans used lamella to mean a small metal plate.
But then the French took
over the word, meaning a small metal plate, but then they added and subtracted letters to come up with omelette.
In 1611 Randle Cotgrave writing in a dictionary of the French and
English tongues, referred to a pancake of egges, using the spelling omelet.
Then in 1655 a Comical History of Francoin mentioned
that a person was commanded to make an amuelet, “it being Friday”.
The word in its early days was not spelt as omelette or, if you happened to live in the United
States, as omelet.
My Australian English Style Guide, with Pam Peters as editor, says it prefers omelet. Omelette came into the English language many years after omelet.
My Macquarie and Collins dictionaries seem to prefer omelette.
My big dictionary has omelet as its first entry, followed by omelette.
Miriam Webster, with an American influence, uses omelet. You will find omelet used mostly in the United States and omelette used mostly
in British and Australian history, but no hard and fast rules have come onto my desk.
But you must have eggs and they must be “beaten and stirred”. An omelette
has to have eggs.
In the early days then word omelette was spelt in many forms, often as alumette or aumelette.
Of course, people couldn’t spell in those days. They can’t spell much now either, but that’s another story.
The word that we now use had a French influence.
The word alemelle or alumelle meant a thin plate, or even the blade of a sword or knife. The word, by a process of adding and subtracting, finished up as omelette. It even had a
spelling of omlet.
The big dictionary quotes an old proverb, the introduction to this column, as an indication that people cannot accomplish something valuable without sacrificing
something in itself valuable.
So, if you don’t have any eggs you cannot make an omelette.
dictionary says an omelette is “a dish consisting mainly of eggs whipped up, seasoned and fried, often varied by the addition of other ingredients, such as cheese, apples, parsley, chopped ham, fish, mushrooms etc”. I was told never to use etc,
because it indicated I did not know what I was talking about or I couldn’t think what to say next. I try not to use it, but the temptation is there.
In 1859 a comment was made
that “we are walking upon eggs … and the omelette will not be made without the breaking of some”.
English struggled with a word to describe eggs beaten and stirred.
Originally it came up with many variations, including omelet, omelette, even amulet and aumulet.
Eventually, by usage, we have come up with omelette, or omelet if you prefer.
Lots of recipes exist on how to prepare omelettes.
Different countries have different spellings for omelette. I am
told that the word in Thai means “egg”.
If you want to make the world’s largest omelette, you will have to look at somewhere around 200,000 eggs, depending on the
If you ever want water to be boiled, I can manage that, so long as it is not too complicated.