Irish Stew (1823) & Madrid Stew/Tapas (1968)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Apr 8 08:05:18 UTC 2002


(The NYPL lists "Sherer, Moyle" as the author--ed.)
London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Ormer, and Brown

Pg. 94:  The dinner, too, no great variety in the cookery to be sure, for there are _but two dishes_ seen in a camp, namely, soup and boulli, or an Irish stew, but these with rice, pumpkin, tomatis, and a bottle of good country wine, left a moderate man little to wish for, and _nothing to grumble at_.
(OED has 1814 for "Irish stew," but I'll try and beat that soon.  This is a second citation, and the use of "tomatis" is interesting--ed.)

Pg. 178:  A small wooden bowl of vegetable soup was brought him for his supper...
(James Landau recently cited 1846, but "vegetable soup" no doubt goes far back--ed.)

Pg. 182:  In Catalonia, Navarre, Arragon, and Biscay, Eroles, Lacy and Mina commanded large bodies of Guerrillas, equally formidable from their surprising activity, and their undaunted courage.
(I'll look harder for an earlier "guerrilla."  Note that today's Palestinians went from "guerrilla" to "terrorist" to "gunmen."  Probably too close to "gorilla"--ed.)


by James A. Michener
Random House, NY

   A little late (OED has 1953), but a great description of "tapas."

Pg. 353:
   In the years when zarzuela flourished, an attractive custom grew up in Madrid, which is still observed.  In the narrow streets and alleys clustered throughout the district of the Teatro de la Zarzuela were small bars specializing in tapas (hors d'oeuvres) set before the public on long rows of dishes from which one more or less helped himself.  Today on the Calle Echegaray, named after the dramatist who won the Nobel Prize in 1904 and whose brother wrote zarzuelas, a taxi can barely pass because of the crowds who come and go from the dozens of tapa bars.
   There is a long bar behind which two men in traditional aprons serve cold beer and other drinks.  Upon the bar have been arranged some two dozen open dishes crammed with a wild variety of tidbits tastefully arranged and accompanied by glasses of toothpicks, which are used to spear the goodies.  The tapa place that I have frequented for many years offers dishes in four categories: first comes the seafood--the anchovies, eel, (Pg. 354--ed.) squid, octopus, herring, shrimp, salmon, five kinds of sardines, five kinds of fish; next comes the boiled eggs, deviled eggs, egg salad, potato omelets cit in strips, vegetables, onions, salads; third are the cold meats in great variety, including meat balls, York ham, Serrano ham, tripe, brains, liver in a variety of styles, beef, pork and veal; and finally the hot dishes, which can be delicious.  Shish kebab in hot sauce is good but I prefer mussels in a sauce of burned onions and clam broth, but there are five or six other kinds of shellfish which are about as good.
   Tapa bars, so far as I am concerned, are divided into two groups, those that serve cocido Madrileno (Madrid stew) and those that don't.  This is a heavy peasant concotion made of beans, flank beef, salted ham, sausage, onions, carrots, potatoes, kohlrabi and garlic, allowed to cook for days, with new ingredients thrown in from time to time.  A good cocido, with hard bread and red wine, is a real Spanish dish.
   The traditional way to enjoy the tapa bar, however, is not to sit down for a dish as formal as a cocido but to gather a group of friends and wander leisurely from one bar to the next, taking from each the one dish for which it is famous.  In this area there is one bar that serves nothing but octopus and squid, prepared in various ways, and another that specializes in shellfish.  One of the best known is a very small corner place called La Gaditana (The Girl from Cadiz), which advertises "The largest restaurant in the world.  You enter at Cadiz and leave at Barcelona," those being the names of the streets which form the corner.
   One aspect of the tapa bar frightened me.  About half the dishes are bathed in a heavy, bright yellow mayonnaise that shimmies like gelatin when you put the spoon in.  The finest shrimp, the best eggs, the fresh vegetable salad are drowned in this rich, inedible goo, but with care one can avoid it.  However, if you dine with a Spaniard and he sees that your plate contains nothing but wholesome octopus, mussels and anchovies, he will insist upon slapping on a final gob of mayonnaise.  Otherwise it wouldn't be a respectable tapa.

(I've looked through 1930s travel books, and "tapa" is NOT there.  In the 1940s, there was the Civil War and WWII.  A long article in NAIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, August 1931, "Madrid Out-Of-Doors," mentions food on page 227, but NOT "tapas."  Also, one web site insists that "tapas" started in Seville, not Madrid.  More later--ed.)

More information about the Ads-l mailing list