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porridge

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  • Carol Dery
    I checked the original Latin for the quote from Martial(13,35) - I am a Lucanian sausage, the daughter of a Picenum bred sow, I provide a delightful wreath
    Message 1 of 6 , Feb 24, 1999
      I checked the original Latin for the quote from Martial(13,35) - I am a
      Lucanian sausage, the daughter of a Picenum bred sow, I provide a delightful
      wreath with which to garnish white polenta". This translation from Giacosa's
      book is misleading - 'polenta' should read 'porridge' in English, as the
      Latin says 'puls' which is wheat porridge. The Romans did not have polenta
      as we know it today. The thing they called 'polenta' was barley porridge,
      which is not the same thing.

      Carol
    • Kyle Phillips
      ... Strikes me that were re sinking into the quagmires of translation here -- though the word polenta is now most commonly applied to preparations made from
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 24, 1999
        At 15:52 24-02-99 +0000, you wrote:
        >From: Carol Dery <sr045@...>
        >
        > I checked the original Latin for the quote from Martial(13,35) - I am a
        >Lucanian sausage, the daughter of a Picenum bred sow, I provide a delightful
        >wreath with which to garnish white polenta". This translation from Giacosa's
        >book is misleading - 'polenta' should read 'porridge' in English, as the
        >Latin says 'puls' which is wheat porridge. The Romans did not have polenta
        >as we know it today. The thing they called 'polenta' was barley porridge,
        >which is not the same thing.
        >

        Strikes me that were're sinking into the quagmires of translation here --
        though the word "polenta" is now most commonly applied to preparations made
        from corn, in the past it was applied to almost any kind of porridge,
        including those made from wheat, barley, grano saraceno (not sure what that
        is in English), and even legumes.
        You still occasionally encounter non-cornmeal polentas in Italy.

        Kyle
        WebWeaver, The Mining Co's Italian cuisine

        http://italianfood.miningco.com
      • Maureen B. Fant
        ... It s buckwheat, and it s used in polenta taragna (yum). Nice to see you on the list. Maureen Fant, Rome (coauthor of Dictionary of Italian Cuisine, Ecco
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 25, 1999
          ----------
          >From: Kyle Phillips <nacheroo@...>
          >To: Apicius@onelist.com
          >Subject: [Apicius] Re: porridge
          >Date: Wed, Feb 24, 1999, 7:10 PM
          >

          > grano saraceno (not sure what that
          > is in English)
          ----------------

          It's buckwheat, and it's used in polenta taragna (yum). Nice to see you on
          the list.


          Maureen Fant, Rome
          (coauthor of Dictionary of Italian Cuisine, Ecco Press 98)
        • ChannonM@xxx.xxx
          In a message dated 2/24/99 10:52:59 AM Eastern Standard Time, sr045@lamp.ac.uk writes:
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 27, 1999
            In a message dated 2/24/99 10:52:59 AM Eastern Standard Time, sr045@...
            writes:

            << Latin says 'puls' which is wheat porridge , 'polenta' was barley
            porridge,>>

            I appreciate the help with the Latin originals, it is clear that there is a
            definite advantage to be able to go back to the originals instead of relying
            on the translation. Can you suggest a good source for translation or possibly
            a beginner's guide??
          • ChannonM@xxx.xxx
            In a message dated 2/25/99 3:36:49 AM Eastern Standard Time, nacheroo@firenze.net writes: I apologize for what appears to be
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 27, 1999
              In a message dated 2/25/99 3:36:49 AM Eastern Standard Time,
              nacheroo@... writes:

              << quagmires of translation >>

              I apologize for what appears to be trivialization. I've been attempting to
              create some recipes for some more widely recognized foods (a modern "polenta"
              type dish is more appealing to the modern tastes than a porridge)that the
              average feaster would appreciate. In addition, I hope this may encourage
              others to try Roman foods. Many of the people who would normally attend a
              feast here are not necessarily Roman aficionados and may not otherwise try out
              these dishes.
              Does anyone have any suggestions to this effect?
            • Kyle Phillips
              ChannonM@aol.com writes, re my ... I fear there s been some misunderstanding here. I wasn t trivializing, but pointing out that translation of cookery is not
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 28, 1999
                ChannonM@... writes, re my
                >
                >
                ><< quagmires of translation >>
                >
                >I apologize for what appears to be trivialization. I've been attempting to
                >create some recipes for some more widely recognized foods (a modern "polenta"
                >type dish is more appealing to the modern tastes than a porridge)that the
                >average feaster would appreciate.

                I fear there's been some misunderstanding here. I wasn't trivializing, but
                pointing out that translation of cookery is not an exact science. Also, as
                I said, in Italian the word polenta refers to a mush made of grain; while
                this is relatively specific as to a process it leaves quite a bit of leeway
                as to the ingredients. It's only in the past 150 years or so that the grain
                has become fairly fixed on corn, though I saw a recipe for polenta that
                called for grano saraceno (buckwheat) not long ago.
                Italian cooks today are masters at making do with what they have at hand
                and I'm certain that the Romans were just as good at it. For this reason
                dishes change in charracter and flavor while maintaining the same basic
                format from one place to the next. As a modern example, think of the
                variations in pomarola (tomato sauce) throughout the country -- Tuscans and
                Neapolitans begin with the same ingredients and finish with very different
                tasting sauces, both of which a Tuscan would likely call pomarola. A
                Neapolitan would quite possibly call both something else, because
                Neapolitan and Tuscan are linguistically quite distinct.
                Given all this I'm hesitant to say polenta was made with this grain and
                puls with that one, or make other fine distinctions along these lines.
                People made do with what they had at hand, and the people of Roman Italy,
                which was a politically unified patchwork of various cultures (much like
                modern Italy), likely made just as extensive a use of local idoms as modern
                Italians do. One person's puls could easily have been the next person's
                polenta, or even something else.

                Kyle
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