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Cheat-bread

Pronounced /tʃiːtbrɛd/Help with pronunciation

In Elizabethan England, to take a representative moment in English history, bread came in many types, each with its own name. The very best, made of finely sieved flour, was manchet. This was also called paindemaine or demeine (from Latin panis dominicus “Lord’s bread”, hence maine bread and various other forms); a more generic term was white bread. A roll was at first a type of manchet that was doubled over, or rolled, before being baked.

Cheat-bread was the second quality (we have no idea where the name comes from), also called chet loaf, trencher bread and other names.

The second is the cheat or wheaten bread, so named because the colour thereof resembleth the grey or yellowish wheat, being clean and well dressed, and out of this is the coarsest of the bran (usually called gurgeons or pollard) taken.

A Description of Elizabethan England, by William Harrison, 1577.

A book of household management of 1526 described the daily allowance, or bouche to be given to the attendants in a great house: “For their Bouch in the morning, one chet loafe, one manchet, one gallon of ale”.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 10 May 2003

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Last modified: 10 May 2003.