I posted the following on Wordorigins yesterday:

In a (delightful) New Yorker article focused mainly on a South African friend’s quenchless craving for snoek (“He thinks about fried snoek and grilled snoek and dried snoek and snoek made into pâté…”), Calvin Trillin brings up another culinary item, using a word of whose existence I can find no other trace:

I took advantage of the stop to buy something I’d come across on a previous trip to Cape Town, a dosa-like object called a “salomey”—a sort of pancake filled with, in this case, chicken and potato. Jeffrey, who had never heard of a salomey, loved it. I told him to consider it a gift—not that particular salomey but the whole concept of salomies.

I was immediately suspicious because of the aberrant plural salomies; the plural of salomey should be salomeys. The fact that Google knows the word only as a given name (apart from this article) [this turns out not to be true] heightened my suspicion, and it’s not in any of my dictionaries (no, not even the Afrikaans one). I no longer trust the magazine’s once legendary fact-checkers. So: anybody know this word, or the dish in question under a name that might reasonably be mistaken for this?

One of the good folks at Wordorigins (thanks, Dutchtoo!) discovered that it was a Malay dish in origin and the usual spelling is salomi (cf this post, which refers to “a salomi, the original wrap of roti or flatbread filled with your choice of curry and salad”—and if your interest in food is wide-ranging, you’ll want to check out the blog, Kitsch’n’Zinc: Culinary musings from Cape Town), so I thought I’d ask my readers if anybody knew the etymology of the word. (Myself, I’d like a good salomi, but I’ll pass on the snoek; I don’t eat any sort of seafood.)

Update (Jan. 2021). I wanted to update the post, but not only is the Wordorigins link dead, but the Internet Archive says “Sorry. This URL has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.” Bah.


  1. BTW, I’m back – no fuss 😉

  2. No fuss, but I’m sure glad to hear from you!

  3. Yow, no seafood?!! Palates like yours (and my sister’s) I do not understand…


  5. Wiktionary now includes salomi… but no pronunciation or etymology!

  6. Qistibi is roasted flatbreads with various fillings inside.

  7. PlasticPaddy says
    The dish is now called roti canai in “Dutch East India”. There is an alternative name or variant roti maryam said in the link to have an Indian Muslim origin or to be popular among Muslims. Maybe there was also a roti salomeh (Maryam’s sister).

  8. More on snoek (beginning with that comment; scroll down).

  9. “Sorry. This URL has been excluded from the Wayback Machine.” Bah.

    Вот же ж….

    (ж is not as in ж-жопа, it is reiteration of the same particle. I do not know how же can cliticize to itself.
    A following expletive is implied, but I did not think about ж-жопа.

    I did not know that archive can do such things…)

  10. David Marjanović says

    I do not know how же can cliticize to itself.

    “There” can cliticize to itself where I come from, for some kind of emphasis: /ˈdɒdɐ/.

  11. January First-of-May says

    I do not know how же can cliticize to itself.

    I do not know either (and it sounds really weird when I think about it), but it absolutely does. Actual phrase I heard from my mother a few days ago: Вот же ж блин же ж!

  12. That’s a great sentence; I’ll have to remember it.

  13. jack morava says

    Tahitian/Slack Key song, “Salomila”; early versions??

    I’m trying to find info regarding recorded vocal versions of “Salomila”.

    For the last 30 plus years, it’s been known mostly as a slack key instrumental, but it has an earlier history as a vocal. “Shine The Light On Me, Salomila, I’m Over Here, Salomila”, etc. It’s apparently Tahitian in origin and the composer is often listed as “traditional”.

    I know it was a popular vocal recording in Hawaii as early as 1951, but I don’t know who that artist might have been. I’m hoping some early versions have been reissued somewhere, but I can’t even find a pre-1960 version by anybody–vocal or instrumental. I’m aware of vocal versions by Dave Guard’s Whiskey Hill Singers in the 1960s and by Al Lopaka in Hawaii, from 1970. Guard grew up in Hawaii and knew the song circa 1951 as a teenager, before he founded the Kingston Trio. Any help? I’ve struck out at BMI and ASCAP and have had no luck with an hour of Google and Youtube.

  14. PlasticPaddy says

    Sorry if you already had this. This Hawaiian guitar recording is quite early, not clear to me whether the second tune is the one you are looking for but maybe this could help your search.

  15. jack morava says

    I heard the song as a kid, cf and was puzzled by the lyrics, ie

    Chi-lang a long-a oom banga banga
    Chi-lang a long-a oom banga banga
    Shine the light on me Salomila
    I’m over here Salomila
    Underneath the tree Salomila
    Wating Sushi Salomila
    Chi-lang a-lang-a oom banga banga
    Chi-lang a-lang-a oom banga banga
    Some people say I’m getting fat
    But I’m much too smart for that
    Let me go Melia my darling
    You’re biting my finger

    Chi-lang a-lang-a oom banga banga
    Chi-lang a-lang-a oom banga banga
    Come over here Salomila
    Come closer dear Salomila
    Underneath the tree Salomila
    Make love to me Salomila
    Chi-lang a-lang-a oom banga banga
    Chi-lang a-lang-a oom banga banga
    Shine the light on me police-man
    I’m over here police-man
    Underneath the tree police-man
    Making whoopee police-man

    and was further intrigued to learn that it has something to do (perhaps) with Tahiti. Thanks for your help!

  16. Tahitian doesn’t have /s/ or /l/.

  17. John Cowan says

    Вот же ж блин же ж!

    GT makes it “Well, dammit!”

  18. The word блин literally means ‘pancake, crepe’ but is a common euphemism for блядь (‘whore,’ but all-purpose curse word), hence “dammit” isn’t bad.

  19. Yes, it is a generic carrier of an emotion. Surprise.
    The translation, feels strangely perfect. Maybe Russian needs a Topic-Comment pair (here-whore!) where English needs a Verb-Object pair (e.g. fuck-me!*).

    Elsewhere it would work as English fucking (or for softer blin, “darn” etc.).

    * or maybe I am wrong because.
    я хренею…

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