My friends Barbara and Holt have an excellent blog, What Holt and Barbara Had for Dinner, that should appeal to anyone interested in food and/or cooking; their latest post is about gazpacho, both the many ways of making it and the etymology. With regard to the latter they say:
The etymology is wonderful. American Heritage says “Spanish, probably of Mozarabic origin; akin to Spanish caspicias, remainders, worthless things.” But caspicias isn’t attested until 1899.
The Real Academia Española’s Diccionario de la lengua española (22d ed.) has finally tracked it down. We begin with Ancient Greek γάζα (gaza) ‘treasure’; but wait, we can go even further back! Pomponius Mela (and who can doubt him) tells that it’s a Persian word, and sure enough there is a Persian ganj, Sanskrit gañja meaning ‘treasure’ (now before you get excited this is not to be confused with Sanskrit gañjâ meaning ‘hemp’; Hindi gânjh(â)). So we have the Greek word γαζοφυλάκιον (gaza-phulakion) ‘treasure-guarder’, ‘treasure house’. This is borrowed into Mozarabic as *gazpáčo and hence gazpacho, a little treasure house of edibles. Cool, huh, Indo-Iranian through Greek through Arabic to Spanish to our table.
If Language Hat can get me an etymology for gañja (and the other ganja, too), I’d appreciate it. Our cheap-ass university doesn’t have a copy of Mayrhofer’s Kurzgefasstes (!) etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindischen. We’re all waiting for the musical.
Needless to say, the first thing I did was go to the OED, where I was confronted with the extremely helpful etymology “[Sp.]” I’m afraid I don’t have Mayrhofer (which lists for $995), nor do I have any useful ideas about the etymology except to suggest that the Real Academia is reaching (I’m sorry, but gazofilákion ‘repository of treasure’ > gazpacho ‘cold soup’ is quite a leap, and it doesn’t seem obvious to me that the Greek word would give Mozarabic *gazpáčo, which of course is a hypothetical form anyway. So I thought I’d appeal to the varied LH readership, in particular to those interested in culinary etymology (MMcM, I’m looking at you!): any thoughts on the subject?