lordhunt at gmail.com
Tue Nov 28 14:05:44 PST 2006
Originally this message started out with the fact that I was
confused between polenta and grits and I wanted to know if they are
different or the same dishes. I think I have figured this out by going
back to Flower's translation of Apicuis (1 AD) in which she translates
/alicam/ as grits which consist of crushed barley or spelt that have
been soaked over night. This seems to concur with the modern version
using hominy or hulled corn kernels.
Now I became hung up of gachas, the forerunners on couscous which
Antonio Gazquez Ortiz says are the same as polenta. Gachas in Arabic is
/sawiq/, dried barley. Actually it is a bread soup boiled with lard. The
basic ingredient is flour, breadcrumbs or slices of bread. Semolina
could be used. Gachas is a typical dish in the Mancha where it is a
wheat porridge consisting of wheat boiled in salted water to which milk,
honey or another liquid could be added. There in medieval times the
principle food of the lower classes consisted of bread but when wheat
was scarce gachas was consumed as a substitute.
Sent Sovi recipe CXI and Nola's xxii are for gachas which Gazquez
calls polenta. I guess I can accept his word.
Now this leads to confusion with couscous which prior to the 13th C
was referred to as harira (the Jewish version of gachas) or gachas (with
couscous grains), which is confusing as harira today is a well spiced
soup consisting of finely mashed wheat. In the Middle Ages it was boiled
wheat or breadcrumbs to which meat and mutton grease were added.
Now we have the problem of couscous being referred to as polenta in
the Middle Ages. This fact is that if it is not properly dried before
added to soup the couscous melts and becomes a sort of polenta. Until
the 14th and 15th centuries couscous did not evolve into what the dish
is today. This may make it sound like couscous was not steamed prior to
that time. I do not know.
Marie stated on 27 November that, "Couscous is a particular form of
pasta and not a
grain at all...."An odd note here is that Charles Perry says couscous is
not like pasta as it is held together by 'weaker proteins' as in grains
not gluten. He goes on to underline Mark's statement that couscous can
be made with any grain and mentions bran, barley, maize, ground acorns
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