[Sca-cooks] Burger Battle

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Sun Jan 21 09:12:23 PST 2007

On Jan 21, 2007, at 11:17 AM, Suey wrote:

> Phil Troy wrote:
>> I'm left wondering whether Benavides-Barajas actually
>> used the word "hamburger" . . . or "albondiga" (meatball)
>     He calls it "Supremo de carne o hamburgesa andalusi" not
> 'albondiga'. He does distinguish the two terms clearly in his books.

I see. My reason for asking was to spend less time on something that  
was obviously wrong, and concentrate more on wondering exactly what  
he said and how he arrived at his point. I guess I was trying to give  
him the benefit of the doubt. Would I be close if I were to translate  
the above into English as "meat supreme or Andalusian hamburger"? I  
think that in this case, "supreme" is a noun frequently used in  
French, and to a lesser extent, in American culinary terminology (and  
apparently misused here), and not simply an adjective meaning "most  
superior". Since supremes tend to be without skin, bone, or any tough  
fibers or portions (with certain notable exceptions, such as  
chicken), I'm assuming he's referring to that aspect of finely  
chopped or ground meat, although I can think of no other examples of  
a supreme being ground, chopped, or even heavily pounded.

However, if he does actually use the word "hamburger", or in this  
case a clear reference, it does place on him some responsibility for  
actually knowing what a hamburger is, and this is why I asked about  
albondigas (I'm sure there are other words for hand-formed packets,  
balls, or patties of ground meat), but to 99% of members of cultures  
that eat hamburgers, either as a steak dish off a plate or as a  
sandwich on a bun, a hamburger tends to contain the simplest of  
seasonings (often nothing but salt, and possibly black pepper), and  
is almost invariably beef. Various substitutions are sometimes used,  
but using something like ground turkey is more of a health  
consideration for those on special diets, and not an admission of non- 
beef meats as part of the hamburger tradition. It is the exception to  
a rule that still stands.

It sounds as if Sr. Benavides-Barajas is playing fast and loose with  
his terms here. Which, if everyone understands and agrees that  
assumptions cannot be made as to what they mean to him, is fine. It  
just wouldn't be regarded by most people as good scholarship: poetic  
license is great for poetry, but poetry is not the best way to  
communicate when you absolutely need to be understood.

> L. Benavides-Barajas is a Spanish specialist in historical gastronomy.
> He has contributed to several European magazines, gastronomy guide  
> books
> and cookery books such as the second edition of "Dinner Party Book"  
> and
> "Let's Lunch in London" by Corrine Streich. Also he has written for La
> Cronica de Granada, The Reporter and the Daily Telegraph. In Spain  
> he is
> known for his publications such as "Nueva-Clasica Andalusi",  "La
> Alhambra," "Los mozárabes y muladies," "Al-Andalus, la cocina y su
> historia" and other historical cookery books on various areas in
> Al-Andalus.

I did look for his name in Amazon.com's database, and found some of  
those titles, so that was what made me realize this wasn't just  
another case of bad 19th-century scholarship.

> He provides historical information and recipes some of
> which are obviously modernized versions of Huici's Spanish translation
> of the 13th C Hispano-Arabic manuscript. His work is interesting and
> informative but as indicated  he looses credibility for his failure to
> cite his sources.

I can see how that might be a problem. Doesn't Huici-Miranda's  
translation of Manuscrito Anonimo have a reputation as being riddled  
with errors anyway?


"S'ils n'ont pas de pain, vous fait-on dire, qu'ils  mangent de la  
brioche!" / "If there's no bread to be had, one has to say, let them  
eat cake!"
     -- attributed to an unnamed noblewoman by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,  
"Confessions", 1782

"Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?"
     -- Susan Sheybani, assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry  
Holt, 07/29/04

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