Sunday, September 21, 2008

Word of the Week (Sept 21 - 27) : brewis

brewis n

Definition according to the Dictionary of Newfoundland English:

brewis n also brews(e), broose, bruis, bruise, bruse [phonetics unavailable]. Cp OED ~ 2 " 'bread soaked in boiling fat pottage, made of salted meat" [1755] (J.)'; cp EDD sb 2 'bread or oatcake soaked in hot water'; DC Nfld (cl850 [sic = 1960], 1906-). See also FISH n: FISH AND BREWIS, FISHERMAN'S BREWIS.

1 Sea-biscuit or 'hard tack' soaked in water and then boiled; such a dish cooked with salt cod and fat pork. [(1766) 1971 BANKS 137 It is a Soup made with a small quantity of salt Pork cut into Small Slices a good deal of fish and Biscuit Boyled for about an hour.]

1858 [LOWELL] ii, 273 Putting a check upon their own curiosity, they had some tea and brewse [L's note: ship-bread soaked into a pulp in warm water] made in the best art of the ship's cook.

1895 J A Folklore viii, 28 Brews ... is a dish which occupies almost the same place at a Newfoundlander's breakfast-table that baked beans are supposed to do on that of a Bostonian. It consists of pieces of hard biscuit soaked over night, warmed in the morning, and then eaten with boiled codfish and butter.

1905 DUNCAN ix-x 'Broose' is a toothsome dish resembling boiled hard-tack.

1908 HUBBARD 242 'Bruise' for breakfast. Hard tack, fish, pork, boiled together—good. 'Two more early risin's, and then duff and bruise,' is said to be a Thursday remark of the fishermen.

1920 GRENFELL & SPALDING 23-4 All right-minded Newfoundlanders and Labradormen call it [brewis] 'bruse.'

1924 ENGLAND 117 'Fish an' brewis, how many youse?' It rhymed, for brewis is pronounced 'bruise.'

1933 GREENLEAF (ed) 250 "Change Islands Song": No sign of salmon on that shore; discouraging was the news; / No pirate money could be found, and not a fish for brewis.

1936 DULEY 56 Isabel had a chicken to draw, a jam tart to make, brewis to put in soak for the Sunday morning breakfast.

1937 DEVINE 5 'Brewis,' a once popular morning meal composed of broken hard biscuit soaked in water over night, boiled with small pieces of salt codfish and served up with melted fat pork, evidently came from Scotland... In the old days in St John's, when the merchants lived over their stores on Water Street, they all used to have brewis for breakfast on Sunday morning. It was a light meal, palatable and easy of digestion... The fisherman followed the merchant more from necessity than choice ... and most days of the week, as well as Sunday, saw brewis used all over the country.

1955 DOYLE (ed) 11 "A Noble Fleet of Sealers": Tho' Newfoundland is changing fast, / Some things we must not lose, / May we always have our Flipper pie, / And Codfish for our brewis. T 75/6-64 [We'd] carry a stock o' hard bread, and [when] the soft bread'd be gone make brewis out o' the hard bread. T 43/8- 64 There was no fresh meats, no baloney, no fresh fish—you'd get salt fish Fridays, salt fish and brewis and fat.

2 Phr have a head like a brewis-bag: to be empty-headed, forgetful. C 67-14 'He has a head like a brewis bag' [meaning] could not 'hold' or retain anything. stiff as brewis: dignified, unbending. C 65-2 ~ said about a person who walks [in a] dignified [manner] and is supposed to be proud.

Now, we invite you to RELiVE, REMEMBER and REFRESH iT and/or even REDEFiNE iT!The main thing is to RELiSH iT.

N.B. Any Word of the Week receiving more than 10 posts will trigger a prize from Rattling Books for our favourite.

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The word of the week is released each Sunday morning on the Newfoundland and Labrador CBC Radio program Weekend Arts Magazine with host Angela Antle.

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