Food Word Jambalaya

FoodWord: Jambalaya

Accordingto Peter Farb and George Armelagos, cuisines adopt words from theirorigin culture language. Therefore, most food words carry a historyof their culture through names. In some instances when these foodsare approved in different cultures, they retain the name and somemeaning and tales are made to suit the name and associate it with anew culture. Jambalaya, a type of soup originates from Spain andFrance though today it is a major cuisine in the United States. Thepaper will trace the origin of the food word ‘jambalaya` and itsadoption in English culture.

Jambalayais a stew whose main ingredients are meat, vegetables, and rice. Theword Jambalaya originates from Provence (South-east of Francebordering Italy). The original name is ‘jambalaia` that meansmix-up, mish-mash as well as pilau of rice (Cookbook 106).There are also claims that the word originates from Valencia in Spainas ‘jamon`+ ‘paella` referring to some Spanish rice dish(Cookbook 106).Therefore this stew is majorly associated with Spanish and Frenchorigins.

Atale was also coined in New Orleans saying that a gentleman stoppedby an inn that had little remaining food. He requested a cook calledJean to mix up something in local dialect by saying ‘Jean balayez.` Atapaka tribe also has its theory in the origin of the name. It issaid that the word comes from a combination of words ‘sham, pal,ha ya` translated as ‘be full, not skinny! And eat up!` In French,it is translated as ‘Bon appétit!` Despite the vast association ofthis word with different tales of origin, current spelling of thefood name is profoundly influenced by its relationship with Spanishdescent.

Accordingto the Cookbook, for the jambalaya made of rice and foul, cut up andstew a foul. When half done add a cup of raw rice, a slice of mincedham, peper and salt (trinity). Allow them to cook together until therice swells and absorbs all the sauce of the stewed chicken (Cookbook106).Do not allow it to dry. Serve in a deep dish. Southern people referit as an Indian dish.

Thereare two varieties of jambalaya called Creole jambalaya (redjambalaya) and Cajun jambalaya that have different recipes. Theirprimary differences are presence and absence of tomatoes. Whenpreparing Creole jambalaya, one prepares saffron mixture (onions,pepper, and celery) also called ‘trinity.` Meat, majorly chicken,and sausage are added to the trinity. Next, seafood, vegetables, andtomatoes are added. Lastly, rice and stock are added in equalproportions (Cookbook 106).The mixture is boiled at an average of 20-60 minutes depending onsources of heat as well as cooking vessels with occasional stirringthat ceases in the end.

Creolejambalaya preparation was an idea borrowed from Spanish in NewOrleans from French living in the region. It is said that in the newregion, there was a little supply of saffron and the little availablewas at a high cost. Therefore, Spanish people had to adopt Frenchinfluence as it was the best way to make affordable ‘Paella` (atype of rice dish from Spain). As a result, borrowing spices andrecipes from the Caribbean, Spain, and French it was possible to comeup with a unique dish of red jambalaya.

Cajunjambalaya is free of tomatoes and common in Louisiana where it isbelieved that tomatoes are less common in dishes. It is brown incolor. The recipe begins with browning meat in a cast iron pot whereTrinity (a mixture of onions, celery, and red/green pepper) is added(Cookbook 106).When soft, stock, rice and seasonings are added, and the mixture isleft to simmer under low heat for 30-60 minutes. Outside Louisiana,people prepare this form of rice where all ingredients are preparedseparately and mixed before serving. It is referred to as ‘whitejambalaya` and often uses a shorter time to make. In some cases,vegetables are left out.

Cajunjambalaya contains more of the Spanish influence in the rural regionsof Louisiana. However, there are claims that these Spanish people hadborrowed from French citizens in New Orleans. Apart from the absenceof tomatoes, the soup is made of different types of meat ranging fromcrawfish, turtle, duck, shrimp and alligator available in a low-lyingswamp in the region. The brown jambalaya has a smokier and spiciertaste compared to Creole jambalaya.

Accordingto the N-gram, the food word (jambalaya) first appeared in print inProvencal through poetry in 1837 (N-gram 1). In 1849, it appeared inprint as well as in English. However, its first appearance in theCookbook was in 1878. However, the food popularity grew gradually,and in the 1920s and 1930s, the recipe became popular. Through simplestatistics done by the Louisiana Governor John Mckeithen, he declaredhis region ‘the capital of jambalaya` in 1968. From then the foodhas spread across the United States with an annual jambalaya festivaldone during spring.

Thetrends observed in N-gram and Cookbook is majorly influenced byvarious historical, socio-economic as well as scientificdevelopments. Historically, settlement of French people and people ofSpanish origin in New Orleans facilitated introduction of the food.Absence of tomatoes in Louisiana led to choice of Cajun Jambalaya inthe region. Scientifically, presence and absence of variousingredients plays a great part in development of new recipes ofjambalaya.

Inconclusion, since the introduction of the recipe of the meal, therehas been a gradual adoption of the dish in the United States. Apartfrom its availability in homes and hotels, it is also available intins, cold and packed ready to eat. Its adoption in English culturecame along with acceptance of the dish such that during spring thereis jambalaya festival.


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