"The word salmagundi may be derived from the obscure 16th century French word salmigondis which means disparate assembly of things, ideas or people, forming an incoherent whole" Wikipedia
I shall try not to be incoherent. And when I think about what I have written, there are a few threads to follow - although somewhat incoherently.
Actually salmagundi is a dish - a salad:
"Salmagundi is more of a concept than a recipe. Essentially, it is a large composed salad that incorporates meat, seafood, cooked vegetables, raw vegetables, fruits, and nuts and is arranged in an elaborate way."
Sydney Oland/Serious Eats
I did not know this however. I just found it as a synonym for 'bits and pieces' which is what this post is. Oddments from here and there. For salmagundi has also come to mean a miscellany. However, since it is an actual dish maybe we will start with the dish, one example of which is shown at the top of the page.
Apparently in medieval times there were herb and flower salads frequently seen as medicinal as well as tasty. From the sixteenth century on they became more elaborate and by the 17th century they had gained the name of salmagundi. So yes, there is no actual recipe it's just what you have available to arrange prettily on a large plate and drizzle with a dressing when you bring it to table. One writer described this as a particularly British trait - gathering odds and ends and leftovers and making them into something. Surely every competent housewife does?
There is also a Caribbean connection in that it was popular with the pirates of that area, and I think they also made a kind of dry stew with the same name. Oxford Languages describes that variation as: "a dish of chopped meat, anchovies, eggs, onions and seasoning." I have to say that it sounds more like a salad though. There is also a Caribbean spicy fish paste called Solomon Gundy - a name obviously derived from salmagundi. There is also a Jamaican dish with the same name which involves salt herring and spices. But then sal means salt and originally it seems that some kind of fish was an essential ingredient of salmagundi.
Here are a couple more modern examples:
And I have to say that they fit nicely into the contemporary love of big platters of things.
So let's start with a salad - from Ottolenghi. There's got to be something from Ottolenghi. Pickled, not salted, but there's a serendipitous progression here I think. It's a pretty simple dish with an intriguing pairing between fried, and peppered chicken and the pickled watermelon. The pickle is very simple and probably not long-lasting as it does not involve cooking - well once pickled and matured overnight the liquid is cooked up into a syrup that serves as a dressing. I'm not really a fan of salads, but David is, and this one is a bit intriguing so I might give it a go some time when summer finally arrives. Will it ever?
In the latest Woolworths Fresh Ideas Magazine there was this little oddment - probably of no interest to any of you, but it was so sort of today.
What we have here is a potential office lunch. In your heatproof lunchbox you assemble some dried vermicelli noodles and ingredients - they suggest - shredded carrot, thinly sliced capsicum, corn kernels, dried chilli flakes and miso paste. In their words:
"When you're ready to eat, add boiling water to cover. Stand for two minutes, or until noodles soften. partially drain, add sliced tofu and enjoy.!"
Tofu - ugh. But I guess it could be sliced chicken or pork or salami. And I guess it's better than a bought Cup O' Noodles. No good for kids though. No boiling water.
The Shipping Forecast
This item really hasn't got much to do with food. Loosely there is a connection to fishing of course, but it comes up because it was in an article about the latest additions to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage - one of them was the Neopolitan custom/trick of throwing pizza dough in the air to make it circular. I will say no more about that.
Anyway this led to a Guardian correspondent called Nigel Kendall pondering on what British institutions could qualify as none had been suggested so far. One of his suggestions was the shipping forecast, which brought back such fond memories for me - and possibly for any British or ex British people who read this blog. Here is his piece in full. I loved it.
"This national institution, which taps neatly into the British obsession about the bloody weather, celebrated its 150th anniversary in August – but has really only been widely loved since the advent of radio. Poems and songs have been written about it, and a regular audience in the hundreds of thousands tunes in nightly to be lulled to sleep by the steady rhythms of “Fisher, Viking, German Bight, North Utsire [pause, short breath] South Utsire.” As Mark Damazer, the former controller of BBC Radio 4, once observed: “It scans poetically. It’s got a rhythm of its own. It’s eccentric, it’s unique, it’s English. It’s slightly mysterious because nobody really knows where these places are.”
All so very true. And so very English. And I really should donate something to The Guardian. I use them so much.
Another TikTok craze from a lady called Justine Doiron - this is the board that started it all I think. Fundamentally you spread your board with butter and then put stuff on top - including flowers it seems. You then take a piece of bread or toast and swipe it through before eating. It has gone viral - 10 billion views on TikTok I gather and more or less the same on Instagram. When I say views I don't necessarily mean of the original post - just butter board associated posts.
Of course it has created ire in the armies of dieticians, doctors and the like. Well butter anyway is a fat. And much as we might love it - well I do anyway - a little is all you need before you start increasing your cholesterol and your weight. And this is not something you could serve in a hot climate is it?
Then there's the health and safety warnings about wooden boards that can't be scrubbed clean enough and also of many people, all dipping into the same place with their bits of bread.
"The idea of smearing something on a wood board with other food, sharing that with other people and having them all dip into it. It's a bacteria heaven," Laura Cipullo, a registered dietitian in New York City.
The first objection I get, the second not so much. Or rather if it's alright do similar things with dips and fondues, why is this so much worse?
Of course it was an American thing but it has spread here - Taste has this, I have to say, rather more tempting version - a garlic butter board, of which it says:
"This one is made with store-bought garlic butter to make it a little bit cheaty, topped with crispy bacon bits (because bacon!) and served with warm crusty bread so that the butter melts right onto it."
Surely you don't want anything melting.
Already this is evolving into the base being different kinds of butter and different things altogether - cream cheese, yoghurt and stuff even sweet things like butter cream icing - with more sweet things on top.
Don't think this is one trend I shall be following. But it's very salmagundi like isn't it?
Charred corn on the cob
It seems to me that every other recipe I see these days involves charred corn on the cob, whether it's cooked inside the husks, or without the husks. Sometimes you just eat as is with butter, sometimes it's sprinkled or lathered with something or sometimes you then cut off the charred kernels and do something else with them. I don't think we are quite into corn season here as yet, but clean up your griddles and your barbecues because I'm guessing we'll be doing it soon as well. I can just see Curtis Stone doing something in the Coles Magazine involving charred corn on the cob. Well it's so pretty isn't it? And in this case - delicous. The picture is from Taste and it's Charred corn with burnt butter, herbs and smoked paprika salt. Burnt butter - that's everywhere too.
Green olive crumbs from Nigel Slater
Well we've got to have something from Nigel Slater too. This is a side dish of broccolini although he also suggests:
"This is a good dish for serving on rounds of thick, olive-oily toast, for tossing with ribbons of pappardelle or fettuccine or for piling on top of soft polenta."
The thing that caught my eye was the notion of the olives in the breadcrumb topping. Process 60g bread and 60g green olives, with 1 clove garlic and 1 tsp chilli flakes - I should use chilli flakes more - then add 50ml oil. Toast them in a dry pan until golden and crips then add zest of 1 lemon and 1 tbsp of capers. Sounds like something you could sprinkle over all sorts of things, like Ottolenghi's 'Extras'.
Baguettes - the perfect carbohydrate component of your meal
Last night I took Rachel Roddy's advice and provided baguette as the carbohydrate component of our dinner of Pollo alla Romana con peperoni. It was perfect as there was quite a lot of juice. Without the bread that juice would have gone to waste. Well not to waste as it would have ended up in a soup or something. But it reminded me how much I appreciated this custom when I went to France for the first time.
I remember our French teacher telling us that this is what the French did. It was polite to wipe the plate clean with a slice of bread - almost always a baguette. At the time it was definitely not polite to do this in England. Thankfully the world has recognised the sheer pleasure of this custom. Not only do you get every last bit of the sauce in combination with gorgeous baguette, but you also end up with a cleaned plate that can be put straight into the dishwasher without any further scraping or cleaning. Vive la France.
"Salmagundi: a general mixture; a miscellaneous collection." Oxford Languages