It’s time once again for me to renew my genuflection before the wonder that is Polyglot Vegetarian. MMcM doesn’t post often, but considering that each post is the length of a small book and packed with detailed and recondite information, that’s entirely understandable. In the last month he’s made two posts, but each is on a topic so basic to any food lover, treated with such loving attention to history, geography, and relevant literature, that to read the first two paragraphs visible on the main page is automatically to click on the “Read More.” The first is on garlic, and it goes into leek, clove, allium, and many other words from many other languages, not to mention quotes from Horace, Byron, Herodotus, Pliny, and Bram Stoker, along with less famous sources; you can see words in Ancient Egyptian, Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Nepali, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi, Konkani, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Badaga, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese, to name only languages in non-Latin scripts that my browser will display. He finishes up with Dracula and nosferatu.

The second is on chili; it begins with the earliest OED citation, from 1662, continues through quotes from Columbus, Alvarez Chanca, de Las Casas, Peter Martyr, Bernardino de Sahagún (in Nahuatl and English), and many others, with a side reference to the Three Stooges, and finishes up with a 1604 antedate the OED will presumably incorporate. I won’t even try to hint at the varied riches therein; I’ll just say nostalgically that I remember the ají de gallina I had at a long-vanished Peruvian restaurant on Houston Street in Manhattan as if it were yesterday.


  1. I started reading Polyglot Vegetarian after following a link from you a while back. What a find! That’s one of the best blogs I’ve read. There’s a book in that man!

  2. Exactly — some smart publisher should be banging on his door right now proffering a contract. I’ve never seen that particular mix of subjects, and he does it brilliantly.

  3. I know MMcM personally from a long time ago, and he’s got an engaging personality to match the writing. He’d be great on a book tour.

  4. aldiboronti says

    Bookmarked forthwith! What a wonderful blog!

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