Annals of verbing

A blackboard special at the Caribbean restaurant closest to me (Coconuts, a block away):


This is escoveitch, the Jamaican variant of escabeche, turned into a verb.

Plenty of recipes for Jamaican escoveitched fish are available on the net; here’s one. The preparation is known variously as escoveitch, escoveitch fish, and escoveitched fish. The PSP escoveitched is common, though there are rare occurrences of other forms, for instance the BSE in:

Clarke also went beyond the ordinary by transporting a cook from Hellshire, St. Catherine to escoveitch fish and fry lobsters at her Reggae Welcome party for her international guests on the first night (Tuesday, June 21) at the Villa Frangipani. (link)

The OED3 (September 2006) on the noun escabeche lists the variant spellings  escavecheescabeche, and chiefly Jamaican escoveitch and escovitch and gives the gloss:

A dish consisting of fish (or occas. some other food) which is cooked (usually fried) and then soaked in a marinade of seasoned vinegar, and often served cold. Also: this marinade.

There are cites from 1699 on, including this one with the compound escovitch fish:

1962    Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica) 8 Mar. 14 (caption)    Although salt fish and fritters sell well.., escovitch fish and fried potatoes are by far the best sellers.

The Wikipedia entry goes into greater detail:

Escabeche is a typical Mediterranean cuisine which refers to both a dish of poached or fried fish (escabeche of chicken, rabbit or pork is common in Spain [also scallops, shrimp, lobster, calamari, oysters, clams, mussels]) that is marinated in an acidic mixture before serving, and to the marinade itself. The dish is common in Spanish, Salvadoran, Panamanian, Peruvian, Philippine, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican and Guatemalan cuisine, and popular in Catalonia, Portugal and Provence. Influences of the dish appear as far as Asia-Pacific with adjustments to local food staples. It is usually served cold after marinating in a refrigerator overnight or longer. The acid in the marinade is usually vinegar but can also include citrus juice. Escabeche is a popular presentation of canned or potted preserved fish, such as tuna, bonito or sardines. In the New World, versions of the basic marinade are often used with other foods than fish and meats, for example green bananas (Puerto Rico), jalapeño peppers (Mexico), etc. The origin of the word escabeche is Persian, and was brought to Spain by the Arabs during the Moorish conquests. The word derives from al-sikbaj, the name of a popular meat dish that was cooked in a sweet and sour sauce, usually vinegar and honey or date molasses.

The dish is also known as “escoveitch” or “escoveech fish” in Jamaica, and is marinated in a sauce of vinegar, onions, chayote, carrots and scotch bonnet peppers overnight, since it is a traditional breakfast dish. And as “escabecio”, “scapece” or “savoro” in Italy, “savoro” in Greece and “scabetche” in North Africa.

It seems that almost anything can be escabeched. Or escoveitched.

One Response to “Annals of verbing”

  1. Food and drink postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

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