This week’s word is salmagundi which I came across in Diana Gabaldon’s “The Scottish Prisoner”.
Salmagundi (pronunciation here) describes a mish-mash of a dish. The recipe is never the same but the idea is to artfully arrange a selection of cold salad ingredients on a platter, whatever the cook has available, and then top it with a spiced dressing. Examples of potential ingredients would be meat, fish, eggs, fruit, edible flowers, nuts. So pretty much anything goes. It is easy to see that it’s a useful dish in times of culinary crisis or when time is short.
First known use of the term is about 1674 and although used primarily in English, the term itself has roots in salmigondis in French (meaning a hodgepodge). A salmagundi was a common dish aboard pirate ships, apparently, but I would take that with a pinch of salt personally.
The word was corrupted in the 18th century to Solomon Grundy – a character in an English nursery rhyme – see below. The same name also refers to a Carribbean herring dish.
But in the meantime if you’re serving up a random collection of leftovers with a dressing you can call it a salmagundi and ponder the fact that even pirates and 17th century cooks sometimes had to do the same.
Until next time, happy reading, writing and wordfooling,
- Solomon Grundy,
- Born on a Monday,
- Christened on Tuesday,
- Married on Wednesday,
- Took ill on Thursday,
- Grew worse on Friday,
- Died on Saturday,
- Buried on Sunday.
- That was the end,
- Of Solomon Grundy.