My sister Annie recently purchased a rare book in Sydney; The well-over-hundred-year-old Hobson & Jobson Glossary of Colloquial Anglo-Indian Words and Phrases. It’s a quaint old book with fascinating descriptions of Indian lifestyle from foreigner’s eyes*.
This information is also available online in Digital Dictionaries of South Asia. This has full search facilities.
Knowing of my affinity to all things asafetida, she looked it up and found some interesting quotes:
1563: “A Portuguese in Bisnagar had a horse of great value, but which exhibited a deal of flatulence, and on that account the King would not buy it. The Portuguese cured it by giving it this ymgu (hingu/hing/asafetida) mixt with flour: the King then bought it, finding it thoroughly well, and asked him how he cured it. When the man said it was the ymgu, the King replied: ‘Tis nothing then to marvel at, for you have given it to eat the food of the gods’ (or, as the poets say, nectar.)
Whereupon the Portuguese made answer, sotto voce, and in Portuguese: ‘Better call it the food of the devils!” – The Germans do worse than this Portuguese, for they call the drug Tuefels dreck, (devils dirt) “ie diaboli non cibus sed stercus !”
*Yule, Henry, Sir. Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive. New ed. edited by William Crooke, B.A. London: J. Murray, 1903.
Posted by Kurma on 13/6/06; 12:12:58 AM