Today’s Lunch on the House celebrated Martedì Grasso, otherwise known as “Mardi Gras.” The final day before Lent begins has been given many names, including Fat Tuesday and Shrove,Tuesday. No matter what you call it, the idea is the same. Martedi Grasso is the last chance for Catholics to enjoy the items they are giving up for Lent.
Our Lunch on the House for “Fat Tuesday” featured a concoction based on two dishes well know to the diners in New Orleans, gumbo and jambalaya, but with an Italian twist. Today’s “goombahlaya” had Italian capicola instead of the traditional tasso ham. The base was of a dark roux with tomatoes, garlic, basil, and pecorino cheese. Smoked sausage, chicken, and pork provided plenty of protein, along with traditional okra as the vegetable component. And we didn’t forget the holy trinity of creole cuisine: celery, bell peppers and onions.
We enjoyed the goombahlaya served over white rice. Mangia e che Dio vi benedica!
Slang words can have many meanings which are often dependent on the region of their use. “Goombah” has a number of connotations, not all positive. The use in “goombahlaya” as used above is based on its reference to a close friend or associate, typically a fellow Italian-American. Growing up others may have heard the term used to refer to their godfather, as in “Mr. Romano is my goombah.”
Wikipedia speaks to the etymology:
Cumpà or Compare originally defined (and it still does in certain regions of Italy) both the godfather and the godson of a Catholic Baptism; hence benefactor, friend, family member or family friend”. It is therefore commonly used as a term of endearment roughly equivalent to “friend,” “brother,” or “comrade” among close friends or associates (generally males) in certain parts of Southern Italy, including Campania and Sicily, where it becomes cumpà or cumpari in the regional Southern languages.