artisan – noun modifier
artisanal – adjective
True artisan cheeses should be made on a small scale, often using milk from a single herd of animals on the cheese-maker’s own farm.
This newly opened artisan bakery in Hall Green is selling bread made with flour milled at the restored Sarehole Mill.
We took a closer look at some of our favorite artisanal chocolate brands that have been making waves in the food scene over the past few years.
The bread is made from scratch by our talented artisan bakers.
The pace of language change is truly astonishing. When researching this post I looked at two ‘old’ sources: the British National Corpus, from 1992, and a large English dictionary produced in the early 2000s. Neither includes the meanings of artisan/al relating to food; back in the early part of this century an artisan was simply a craftsman (or craftswoman) and artisanal was the (very infrequent) related adjective. Now if you enter artisan into Google, two of the top four suggestions relate to food, while artisanal returns a massive 28 million hits, many of them referring to cheese, bread, chocolate and so on.
This reflects a social change that has taken place in the UK as elsewhere. Having sadly watched as our local bakeries closed down one by one in the late 90s and early 2000s, we are now the happy customers of a local baker who has realised that there is a market for bread made from flour, yeast, salt and water and baked daily in small quantities. People come from miles around to stock up on his delicious offerings which cost more than supermarket bread but taste so much better. Long live the artisan bakers, cheesemakers and, why not, chocolatiers.
Artisan and its related adjective artisanal derive, of course, from the Italian artigiano, via the French artisan. There seems to be little difference in usage between the noun modifier and the adjective, apart from a preference for artisanal in American English.