Currant affairs

Tuesday, January 17th, 2006

So I’m sitting at work eating some raisins and a conversation has just sprung up between me and Catherine, my colleague, concerning the difference between raisins, sultanas and currants. (Ah the life of an academic – no philosophical problem too weighty).

After much discussion (we had a similar debate over nuts last week, after my claim that most ‘nuts’ are not in fact nuts, proved right thanks to Wikipedia) we concluded by using the built-in dictionary widget on my Mac.

Apparently a raisin is a dried grape (knew that) while a sultana is a seedless raisin (didn’t know that – presumably they mean dried seedless grape and not a raisin they’ve gone to the trouble of taking the seed from) and a currant is a dried seedless grape of a specific variety. (One web site I found says sultanas come from the Sultana grape but I suspect the generic description is the more reflective of reality).

So that settled that. Next question: who first decided that they should try to eat a dried up grape? I mean, if I had some grapes and they dried up and shrivelled, the last thing I’d be tempted to do is pop one in my mouth. I’d go ‘urgh, a dried-up grape!’ and throw it out. Just goes to show, waste not, want not. Heaven knows what new varieties of food are lurking at the back of my fridge – or even under the cooker…

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