gallimaufry, salmagundi

What have we got to eat tonight?

It’s gallimaufry or salmagundi, I’m not sure which. Maybe both.

You made it. How can you not know?

It’s a tosspot hotch-potch, a hodgepodge like hopscotch with a splash of balderdash, a farrago of foraging. Fish, flesh, flashes in the pan, catch as catch can. Potluck from a potlach. Edibles all agee, etymology unknown. As incongruous as a semolina filigree.

We can go through it and see what there is and decide what to call it.

There’s a gallon of small fry, silver and swirling, and some salmon gumbo, pink and green like a youth at the railing of a heaving ship. There’s gall and gum and a lamb sandwich and a sloppy Joe and maybe a muffuletta, all mingling like yesterday’s lunch in your gut; there’s a slop of slumgullion garbled with subgum and a muddled mug of mulligatawny, middling inelegant and glumly tawny. There’s a gamelan with a gun, banging through revolving scales. There are fumes from a fumarole and undies from a gun moll named Selma. A mafia gallant slammed some alms down in it: “For your family.” Swirling within I see dualism nag and a Gaul firmly in d’ slum again, a sad mauling à la filmy rug, as kooky as a coati mundi in the belfry… If I pick bits out like fishbones, I get a, a, i, u to go with the g, l, m; on the one side I am left with l fry and on the other with s nd. They are like hidden messages, partially obnubilated.

Sip it or gulp it. It tastes of two trochees, like Latin lines: confutatis maledictis, tuba merum spargens sonum, o Fortuna velut luna, testit David cum Sibylla. A bumping, gulping rhythm. It has an [æl] in the first syllable, a [m] in the second, a [g] somewhere in it, an [i] at the end. It sounds like a big jug of whatever-it-is being poured out, galumphing into overloaded bowls, glugging down a drain burping like mud pots.

You won’t get anywhere by comparing the original recipes. A gallimaufry is just a merry gorging of ragout or hash, any crazy stew; salmagundi has many different specific recipes, and they seldom resemble each other in any particular detail, although one might think of a mixture of meat, anchovies, eggs, capers, perhaps olives, oil, lemon juice… or not. Look them up in different sources and get different recipes. They seem to be culinary pranks, a sort of “aristocrats” joke of the kitchen.

Very well. It’s what there is to eat. A verbal smorgasbord for galloping gourmets: astonishing gastronomy, a Solomon Grundy, a gallery mouthful. Give it a name.

Fillmagasundry. Let’s just call it that.

4 responses to “gallimaufry, salmagundi

  1. We use gallimaufry to mean a group of fools, meant happily, of course, like a hippy outfit, borrowed bits and pieces that one wouldn’t think went together, but somehow seemed to mesh joyously. There was also a bar in Houston by that name back in the ’80s (might still be there, who knows). No sign on the door, no advertizing, you knew it was there because someone told you about it. When you stepped inside it was very low light, but you could tell that the furniture, decor, etc., had all been acquired from flea markets and laid out higgledy piggledy, but somehow it all looked right and inviting. Serendipity, delightful surprise, happy go lucky, gallimaufry.

  2. Such yummy words. James, you’ve outdone yourself. Loved the slop of slumgullion and the gamelan with a gun, and “obnubilated” — had to look that one up!

  3. Pingback: awry | Sesquiotica

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