strudel

Here’s a word to keep on your tongue – it stays mainly at the tip, but its object can continue on. It has that great Germanic str onset that covers the waterfront from striking to stringy, strain to stroke, straitjacket to strumpet. And then it goes on to rhyme with noodle, poodle, and the rest of that kit and caboodle. ‘Strue! Does it sound crisp like pastry? Not really, though it does sound like something to be served by a damsel in a dirndl. We’ve only had this word in English since the late 19th century; we got it from the Austrians: it’s German for “whirlpool.” Not that you see a hint of a whirlpool – or of the phyllo-like millefoglie of the pastry – in the shape of the word. A little play will find anagrams of turds, led, and rust in it. Ah, how rude! And yet how sweet. How do you like them apples? Probably a fair bit – although strudels can be made with other fruits (and even with mushrooms), the one that is a standard collocation with strudel is apple.

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