There are several interesting words in English that were once words for recipes and ended meaning “an assortment of random things.”
The word “hodgepodge” has been around since the 14th century. At the time, it was a word for “a kind of stew,” especially “one made with goose, spices, wine, and other miscellaneous ingredients.”
At the time it was spelled in all sorts of different ways: hotchpotch, hoggepot, hochepot and more.
The French influence gives the original version of the word hodgepodge the literal meaning “to shake in a pot.”
This is a recipe for a goose-based hodgepodge stew from the 1390s:
GEES IN HOGGEPOT. XXXI.
Take Gees and smyte hem on pecys. cast hem in a Pot do þerto half wyne and half water. and do þerto a gode quantite of Oynouns and erbest. Set it ouere the fyre and couere it fast. make a layour of brede and blode an lay it þerwith. do þerto powdour fort and serue it fort.
But “hodgepodge” also had another meaning before it meant “stew.”
In the 13th century, this variation hochepot was an Anglo-French legal term. It referred to the process of combining things or property owned by a group of people into a “pot,” so to speak, so that it could be redivided equally among them. (Today, this is also the name of a Dutch stew.)
Another word in this vein is “potpourri,” which was borrowed from French in the 1600s. In English today, potpourri can mean a “medley” or collection of things, or it can specifically refer to scented spices and flowers. But, originally it was a word for a meat and vegetable stew.
In French, pot pourri literally means “rotten pot.” Potpourri is a loan translation from the Spanish olla podrida, which is also known as Spanish national soup and, like the French, also means “rotten pot.”
You can find a lot of recipes for this soup online—but don’t worry, none of the ingredients are rotten, they’re just cooked for a long time. Also, it’s thought that the name of the soup is a misunderstanding of the phrase olla poderida, which sounds similar but means “powerful pot” because it’s a rich, flavorful and hearty soup.
The “medley” sense is a comparison to the soup, and the spices and flowers sense also has added influence from the part that means “rotten,” because the spices and flowers that make up potpourri are dried and aged.
One of these words, which makes a charming addition to your lexical treasure box, is “gallimaufry.” It first appeared in English in the mid-1500 , and it means “a confused jumble or medley of things.”
Tthis word from the French galimafrée, which was a word for a hash or dish made of odds and ends. The French word is thought to be a mashup of the Old French galer, “to make merry,” and mafrer, “to eat a lot.”
This is a 14th century French recipe for galimafrée:
Pour galimafree soyent prinses poulailles ou chappons rons & tailles par pieces et apres fris a sain de lart / ou doye et quant sera frit y soit mis vin & vert ius & pour espices mettes en la pouldre de gingembre & pour la lier cameline & du sel par raison.
It looks like it contains chicken in the original recipe, but the dish was recreated in the 1961 culinary encyclopedia Larousse Gastronomique with a leg of mutton:
“Take a leg of mutton freshly cooked, and chop it as finely as possible in a dish of onions. Stew these ingredients with a little verjuice, butter, and ground white ginger mixed together and seasoned with salt.”
This recipe, which first appeared in the 1600s, is composed of “chopped meat, anchovies, eggs, onions, with oil and condiments,” and comes from the French salmigondis, meaning “seasoned salt meats,” with influence from salemine, a “hodgepodge of meats or fish cooked in wine.” Similarly, salmi was recorded as a word for a ragout of game bird meat in the 1700s and 1800s.
Assuming the word is a combination of both, it derives influence from the Latin sal “salt” and condire “to season, flavor”—condire is also the root of the word “condiment”—but also the Middle English salomene, an alternate variation of the hodgepodge dishe’s name.
Washington Irving who is largely responsible for the use of “salmagundi” as a more general assortment or mishmash of things: His humorous periodical Salmagundi (also called The Whim-whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. & Others) was incredibly influential and quite popular in New York and New England in its day, and even introduced the word “Gotham” as a nickname for New York City. Think Mad magazine or National Lampoon, but older.
Learn how to make the dish known as salmagundi here.
Honorable Mention: Chimichurri
Although its journey isn’t precisely like the others in this list, the word “chimichurri” comes from Basque word tximitxurri, which is loosely translated as “a mixture of several things in no particular order.” The Basque language is spoken in certain areas of northern Spain and southwestern France.