Your recipe calls for a stalk of celery. Do you mean a rib, or the entire stalk?
Wait – what? A stalk and a rib of celery aren’t the same thing?
I thought a bunch of celery was, well, a bunch. And that a stalk was one stick of celery from the bunch. Turns out, the entire bunch of celery is actually the celery stalk, and a single stick from that stalk is called a rib. I assumed – no, I knew, with absolute certainty, that a stalk of celery and a rib of celery are the same thing.
And they’re not, if you talk to a botanist, or maybe a farmer.
But every recipe I’ve ever read refers to a single rib of celery as a stalk. What’s going on?
Stalk of Celery vs Rib of Celery
When a recipe calls for a stalk of celery, it’s asking for one rib, not the whole head of celery. What’s going on is language drift. At some point, the recipe definition of “stalk” diverged from the botanical definition. Sure, pedants will say “but the stalk is the entire bunch!”, and they’ll be technically correct1, but if a recipe calls for a stalk of celery, don’t cut up the entire head and add it to the pot.
Do what I mean, not what I say
When I say “1 stalk of celery, minced”, I mean a single rib. If that bothers you, I’m sorry…but I’m not changing my writing style.
What do you think?
Questions? Leave them in the comments section below. (But, Walls of Text about the death of meaning or the corruption of English will be ignored.)
Here are a few recipe that call for a “Stalk” of celery…
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- The best kind of correct. ↩