"Cullen skink"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jan 14 17:43:52 UTC 2010

The OED defines "Cullen skink" as "A kind of
thick soup, typically made using smoked haddock,
potatoes, onions, and milk."  Its earliest two citations are:
1916 Trans. Sc. Dial. Comm. 2 30 Cullen skink, a
dish consisting of yellow fish, potatoes, milk
and onions. 1929 F. M. MCNEILL Scots Kitchen 98
(heading) Cullen Skink (a cottage recipe from the
shores of the Moray Firth). Findon haddock,
onion, mashed potaoes [sic], butter, milk, pepper, and salt.

I have been informed that the Dictionary of the
Scots Language (freely available on-line even if
you haven't bought a lottery ticket) has an entry.  It is:
CULLEN SKINK, n. comb. A soup made from yellow
haddocks, potatoes, onions and milk (Sc. 1929 F.
M. McNeill Scots Kitchen 98–99; Mry.1 1925; Bnff.
1914 K. W. Peterkin W.-L.; Bnff.9 c.1927).
     [Cullen, on the Moray Firth, + Skink, soup.]

So what is the 1914 citation that would antedate
the OED?  Likely Jesse and his trolls already
know, but "K. W. Peterkin" is not easy to
identify on-line.  Google Books (snippet view) uncovers just one instance:

The Scottish educational journal, Volume 29 [1946] - Page 208:
".. and Misses KW Peterkin, Banff, and M.
Robertson, Keith RC ..." [among others appointed
"office-bearers" at the annual meeting of the
"Banffshire Branch of the E.I.S. at Cullen"].

Thus the local informant, from her "W.-L."  (Or
was "Cullen skink" her personal invention?)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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