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  Re: [aroid-l] Aroid Cook Book
From: "Eduardo Goncalves" <edggon at hotmail.com> on 2004.08.08 at 01:15:50(11943)
Dear Julius,

Just to add a few comments. Actually, the name calaloo (or calalu,
kalalou, calalou, calulu, caruru...) has a very obscure origin. People in
Africa say it is an Arawak name meaning "green". I have never seen this
translation from someone in Carib, so I am somewhat suspicious. It is so
widely known in west Africa (and has so many names) and east Brazil (Bahia
State) that I am really convinced it is based in an African food, probably
made of ockra. In Brazil and in part of Africa, it is still made with this
plant cooked with fish, shrimp and seasonings. In Caribbean countries, ockra
was substituted by Xanthosoma or Colocasia leaves, as well as Amaranthus sp.
In Brazil, besides ockras, leaves of Xanthosoma sagittifolium (named locally
as ef├│, another African name) are used for the "caruru". It seems that
African people when arrived in America, looked for a local plant as a
substitute for ockra and the American Xanthosma (and the introduced
Colocasia in a lesser extent) was chosen. Amaranthus was a third option. The
taste for somewhat "gelly" (it is not the exact texture) food is probably
African (like Gumbo and many other African foods). That ┤s why the use of
Xanthosoma leaves is stronger where Africans have established, whereas
native people preffered to use tubers. Anyhow, all this confusion proves
that it is really hard to trace the origins or any "modern" food. It is even
possible that the calaloo was invented when a creative cooker traveled in
ship from Caribbean Islands to Brazil or West Africa with a few decaying
leaves of Xanthosoma, old ockras and fresh seafood, and that was the last
decent meal for many captive slaves.

Very best


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