Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Gazpacho

Tuesday 7 August

De gazpacho / no hay empacho "You can't have enough of a good thing," or so my Spanish dictionary informs me.

Still too freaking hot. This gazpacho was more a chopped salad than the grilled/puréed version we did last time. Garden cukes, red onion, half of a (third) prize winning poblano, the other red pepper left over from the Napa sausage meal, all in little cubes. These went into the fridge with a little chopped coriander, salt, lime juice, and sherry vinegar. Then we whizzed up the tomatoes (Rutgers, Early Girls, and Sungolds from the garden) and added them when we got home.

Holt had wanted to try adding some stale bread (a traditional ingredient after all; except, of course, that there's nothing that isn't a traditional ingredient in each of the absolutely unique and authentic gazpacho recipes). Verdict: the bread was probably a mistake. The various phase changes made the soup too much like a physics experiment: first, a solid (chopped salad stage), then a liquid (pureed tomato stage), then a colloidal suspension (porridgy bread stage). Not bad, mind you, just not as good as the grilled version.

Holt maintains the whole thing would have been better if the tomatoes had gone in at the beginning and been colder. Barbara maintains that refrigeration (in this case, it would have been for eight hours) spoils the taste of tomatoes. The outcome to be decided by the jury from Iron Chef (Japanese version, featuring at least one giggling actress) or two out of three falls, whichever comes first.

And now: More about gazpacho than you really wanted to know.
It's prety clear that the Ur-Gazpacho was similar to Greek skordalia, that is, a grinded up old bread+garlic+oil kind of thing.
Even in the first definition in Spanish there is no single authentic recipe: Diccionario de Autoridades (1734): "Cierto género de sopa o menestra, que se hace regularmente con pan hecho pedacitos, azéite,* vinagre, ajos y otros ingredientes, conforme al gusto de cada uno. Es comida regulár de segadóres y gente rústica". (A certain type of soup or stew, usually made with bread torn into pieces, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and other ingredients, according to each person's taste. It is usually eaten by harvesters and country people.)

The etymology is wonderful. American Heritage says "Spanish, probably of Mozarabic origin; akin to Spanish caspicias, remainders, worthless things." But caspicias isn't attested until 1899.

The Real Academia Española's Diccionario de la lengua española (22d ed.) has finally tracked it down. We begin with Ancient Greek γάζα (gaza) 'treasure'; but wait, we can go even further back! Pomponius Mela (and who can doubt him) tells that it’s a Persian word, and sure enough there is a Persian ganj, Sanskrit gañja meaning 'treasure' (now before you get excited this is not to be confused with Sanskrit gañjâ meaning 'hemp'; Hindi gânjh(â)). So we have the Greek word γαζοφυλάκιον (gaza-phulakion) 'treasure-guarder', 'treasure house'. This is borrowed into Mozarabic as *gazpáčo and hence gazpacho, a little treasure house of edibles. Cool, huh, Indo-Iranian through Greek through Arabic to Spanish to our table.

If Language Hat can get me an etymology for gañja (and the other ganja, too), I'd appreciate it. Our cheap-ass university doesn't have a copy of Mayrhofer's Kurzgefasstes (!) etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen. We're all waiting for the musical.

The first Spanish dictionary, the Diccionario de Autoridades connects it with Italian guazzetto (a wild guess), but I repeat it for the sake of John Florio's wonderful definitions in one of the greatest dictionaries of all times and with one of the greatest titles Queen Anna's New World of Words (1611): "Guazzétto, any kind of fine sauce for meate. Also a kind of daintie pottage." and "Guazzéttare . . . Also to make good cheere with fine dishes or sauces up to the knuckles."

*azeite, Modern Spanish aceite likewise is borrowed from Arabic زَيْت zayt '(olive) oil' (with the definite article al-zayt/az-zayt.

The first attestation seems to be Cervantes himself, Quixote Book II. 53 (Sancho Panza resigns his governorship):
"Mejor me está a mí una hoz en la mano que un cetro de gobernador; más quiero hartarme de gazpachos que estar sujeto a la miseria de un medico impertinente que me mate de hambre."
(I'd rather have a sickle in my hand than a governor's scepter; I'd prefer to stuff myself with gazpacho than be subject to the misery of a meddling doctor who kills me with hunger.)
But then that's probably the gazpacho manchego (of course), which is more of rabbit stew.

Here's the OED's first citation: 1845 R. FORD Hand-book for Travellers in Spain I. I. 69: "Gazpacho...is a cold vegetable soup, and is composed of onions, garlic, cucumbers, pepinos, pimientas, all chopped up very small and mixed with crumbs of bread, and then put into a bowl of oil, vinegar, and fresh water."

1 comment:

Casper said...

How funny to discover that you keep a food blog as a result of Language Log! Glad to see you are (eating) well. -Phoebe, ex-Cincinnatian archaeologist