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Språkkrönika: Semla has its roots in Mesopotamia

Just on shrove Tuesday was sold about six million semlor in Sweden. The battle for customers has been developed to something of an extreme sport for confectioners. And the culinary inventiveness goes hand in hand with linguistic creativity.

When semmelwrappen was launched it was considered to be something of a revolution. Today it appears to be almost as conservative. The are at least fixed at the semlans trinity: almond paste, cream and bread with kardemummasmak. The same thing can hardly be said about the innovations that skagensemla (bun filled with seafood mix) and kebabsemla (bun filled with kebab meat). Here it is as soon as semlans form – bread with a lid, and filling – that inspired the inventors. Other creators, creators of semmelsoda (soft drinks with semmelsmak) and semoothie (smoothie with semmelsmak), use the traditional flavors in other types of cuisine.

a special place in many of the swede's hearts and stomachs. No other pastries are just as many variations. For semmelpuritaner the situation can probably be likened to anarchy.

But today's standardsemla is a pretty late invention. The trinity was completed only during the 1900s when the whipped cream was added. Then it had been eaten semlor in Sweden for centuries – and even then had some time to undergo a series of metamorphoses. In Gustav Vasa's bible from 1541, there is talk for example, if ”semlokakor mixed with olio”.

Read more: What does it mean to be bun?

language researcher Jenny Larsson has studied the use of the word semla came into the English language. Its sembla or sämbla was borrowed in the meaning of ”small vetebulle” in from German Semmel. It was a loan from the Latin simila, ”fine sifted flour”, which, in turn, was descended from the Greek semídalis, ”fine wheat”.

When Jenny Larsson delves further in, and collect folk literature she appears to last on the fertile plains of Mesopotamia about 10,000 years ago. In akkadiskan she finds what likely is semlans linguistic roots in the word samīdu.

is that the word kebab is probably going back on the akkadiskans kabābu. Exactly when the kebabs began to be eaten with bread, is unclear – but it can not be excluded that today's anarchist kebabsemla in a historical perspective, is actually something of a puritansemla.

anders@spraktidningen.se

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