- “Cut cold roast chicken or other meats into slices.
- Mix with minced tarragon and an onion.
- Mix all together with capers, olives, samphire, broombuds, mushrooms, oysters, lemon, orange, raisins, almonds, blue figs, Virginia potatoes, peas, and red and white currants.
- Garnish with sliced oranges and lemons.
- Cover with oil and vinegar, beaten together.”
—The Good Huswives Treasure, Robert May (1588-1660).
And there you have it – a recipe for today’s word – “Salamagundi.” Oh, you never heard of it? Well, don’t feel too bad – neither had I. I ran across it just now In the Alpha Dictionary. It’s an online resource for increasing your vocabulary, especially in Dr. Goodwords’ Office, where you can sign up to receive your daily Good Word.
So here is the definition of salamagundi:
From Alpha Dictionary: Pronunciation: sæl-mê-gên-di . Part of Speech: Noun, mass. Meaning: 1. A dish of chopped meats, anchovies, fruits, and vegetables, usually highly spiced, served as a salad, garnish, or spread. 2. A hodge-podge, mishmash, jumbled mixture. Word History: Today’s Good Word was borrowed from Middle French salmingondis, a compound probably based on salemine “salted food” and condir “to season”.Salemine comes from Latin salamen “salted food”, which became salami in Italian. The regular noun from condire (from Latin condire “to season”) is condiment. (Dr. Goodword thanks Richard and Yvonne Smith of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, originally from Guyana, for introducing him to salmagundi—the word and the gastronomic delight.)
And from World Wide Words:
Though this is now used mainly in a figurative sense of a mixture or miscellany, it was first attached in English to a dish of chopped meat, anchovies and eggs, garnished with onions, lemon juice, oil and other condiments. A gastronomic dog’s breakfast, you may think.
We know that the word came to us in the seventeenth century from the French salmigondis, of which older spellings in that language were salmiguondin and salmingondin. Here the trail of linguistic footprints ceases, and we must cast about to pick up the route again. One theory is that it was a dish first prepared for the French king Henri IV (or Henri VI in another version) by a nobleman’s wife, after whom it was named. Another, more prosaic but more plausible, is that it derives from the Italian phrase salame conditi, “pickled meat”. Yet another says it comes from the French salemine, “salted food” and condir, “to season”.
In English the name was corrupted to Solomon-gundy in the eighteenth century, and it’s probable that it’s related to the name in the children’s rhyme:
born on a Monday,
christened on Tuesday,
married on Wednesday,
took ill on Thursday,
worse on Friday,
died on Saturday,
buried on Sunday,
that is the end of Solomon Grundy”,
which was first set down by James Orchard Halliwell in 1842.