Friday, 20 May 2011

A "mess" of what?

I grew up using the “Authorised” (King James) translation of the Holy Scriptures.  My memory informed me that in the Genesis Chapter 25 story Jacob gave his brother Esau a “mess of pottage”.

Today I discovered that those fascinating words: “a mess of pottage” are not in the text of the AV/KJV translation.  Instead it reads:

“34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils”.

It seems that the “mess of pottage” language was used in a translator’s “heading” to the passage, and that it was not in the biblical text itself.

I have discovered that in the usage of 16th century England a “mess” meant something of little value, and that “pottage” meant soup or stew.

I got to thinking about this when I had a late lunch at a local restaurant last Monday.  The establishment is on the Philippi Creek in southern Sarasota. It’s nicely rustic, but it serves below par food,  at above par prices. 

My choice last Monday was a bowl of seafood gumbo.  The menu said that it was “hot” – i.e. spicy, but it was neither spicy nor hot.  It was “O.K.” - but it could have been so much better.

So much better that I decided to make my own “mess of gumbo”. This I did today.

My version included grouper, oysters, mussels, clams, with okra (from a can), diced tomatoes, onions, black beans, a few mushrooms, a bit of tabasco sauce, and some black pepper ......  not to forget the chorizo and andouille sausage.

The photo’s below show some lentil soup (a la Jacob/Esau) though the lentils should be red, and my own “pottage of gumbo”.

A mess of pottage (lentil stew)  -   the biblical lentils were red  (still the best!)

My mess of gumbo

1 comment:

  1. Farmers in southern Miss. and se LA also used that term,"a mess", usually for a smallish quantity of uncooked vegetables. Ex.: "I'm going out to pick a mess of collard greens to cook for supper".

    Love lentil soup,too, but gumbo is the best!