Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Pilau: a rice porridge or stew that connects the MidEast, Africa, Europe and the US
Is it pilau, perloo. perlau, plaw, pilaw, pilaf, or pilaff? The word comes from the Turkish pilaw, from the Persian pilaw, and from the Osmanli pilav, "rice porridge." Pronunciation is just as varied, as in PER-lo, PEELaf, or per-LO. According to Bill Neal, Charlestonians, no matter how they spell it, all pronounce it PER-low.
English writers spoke of the dish in the seventeenth century, and by the eighteenth century it had taken hold in Britain, especially after the empire spread through the Middle East and into India. In America, the Southern rice crops and the influence of the spice trade made the dish popular. Pilau has been a popular dish in many Southern states for 300 years, particularly South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana.