Column: ‘Q’ consistency not one of English language’s strengths




It was our turn to bring the refreshments for the Garden Club meeting. Becky and I made a quinoa salad as well as a couple of cheese spreads. Becky thought I should warn the group that one of the cheeses was a bit on the spicy side. She also suggested that I explain the salad just in case someone was unfamiliar with quinoa.

Some members were familiar with it and had tried it, and some weren’t. Almost all gave it a taste, and we didn’t hear any complaints. As an English teacher and word junkie, I guess what made me happiest was the ensuing discussion with several members about the word “quinoa.”

First, I suppose I should explain for the uninitiated what we are talking about. The Great and Mighty Google tells us although quinoa is a recent appearance on U.S. grocery shelves, it was cultivated in the Andes region 3,000 to 5,000 years ago. It is a pseudo-cereal which means that although the plant is not part of the grass family, its grain is eaten just as we eat the grain of grasses such as wheat, corn and rice.

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