Saturday, November 27, 2010


Olio \OH-lee-oh\ , noun;
1. A mixture of heterogeneous elements; hodgepodge
2. A dish of many ingredients
3. A medley or potpourri, as of musical or literary selections; miscellany

According to
Olio was a 'medley dish of Iberian origin' and the word entered English around the 1640's. Exactly which language it entered from is up for debate. It was either from Spanish olla or Portuguese olha, both of which came from Latin olla meaning "pot, jar." The Oxford English Dictionary says it comes from Spanish.

If you try to look up a recipe for olio you will find a bunch for aglio e olio, which is Italian for garlic and oil. This recipe has many varieties, but it always includes spaghetti, olive oil, and garlic. Unfortunately, I don't think this is the same olio from which this word derived.
Real olio, or ollo podrida, is a thick stew with meat and fowl, bacon, pumpkins, cabbage, turnips, and other ingredients stewed or boiled together and highly spiced. Apparently ollo was used the way we use casserole, that is, it was a generic word referring to a type of dish, rather than a specific recipe. It also sounds like it was very similar to our casseroles in the sense that you just throw what you have into a container and cook it up.

For more on making olio click here.

*Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Saturday, November 27

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