10.340 Gamja Tang


11 (Wed) December 2019

Gamja Tang


by W

(From BGC Ajumma Network)

at home

-Dasmariñas Village, Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines-

with the Family, JL

A popular theory about the etymology of this dish’s name holds that the “gamja” refers not to potato but rather to a dialectal term referring to a pig’s backbone.  GMTD had recounted this theory in a prior post, though the contents of the post has since been lost (see 3.226 Gamja Tang).

I’m now coming to believe that the theory is bullshit.  Beyond anectodal food literature, I have not seen any verifiable source that provides evidence to support the claim.  Further, the proposed secondary meaning does not seem to appear anywhere outside of the gamja tang context.  In my experience researching etymology, at least where English is concerned, I’ve found that people are eager to accept surprising/silly word origins, even if dubious, possibly because conveying such supposedly obscure information makes them feel clever; the more obvious/rational explanation is often ignored.

In that theory, this vertebra would be a gamja, not any of the potato chunks also in the stew.

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