There may be other references for pilaf, but here in St. Augustine, it's
pronounced "perlow" (believe it or not). The history of local pilaf is
Minorcan. The Minorcans were early settlers here, and also brought the
datil pepper to this area. (The datil only grows here, and for you
pepper lovers, it's phenomenal.) Most of the recipes I've seen are
rice-based, but I've seen pilaf with almost every grain imaginable. The
addition of various vegetables is also common. I wonder sometimes if
it's not a sort of "clean out the fridge" recipe. Here, it is always
richly seasoned . . . heat being an individual choice. Sometimes you
find it HotHotHot, other times just rich and mildly spiced.
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the country (european-settled), with
a rich history that encompasses food and cooking. For our small town,
there must be dozens and dozens of local cookbooks featuring pilaf. The
first one I ever saw was at a friend's house in New Smyrna many years ago
(which has a rich Greek and Minorcan heritage). I was taken aback by the
adamant declaration on the front of the cookbook that "pilaf" was
pronounced "perlow". I have no idea why.
If anyone is interested in more about pilaf, email me, and I'll be glad
to find out more. (I'm not Minorcan. And I grew up in Daytona, so I only
know what I've read.) There is a huge Minorcan (also spelled Menorcan)
festival here that features pilaf prominently. I think, however, it's
kind of like spaghetti sauce . . . every person, every family, every
cookbook, has a different recipe. They all have the same foundation, but
the additions vary.
Since I am printing out my hurricane list ("to do" and "to get") as I
type this, wish us well and send Fran back out to sea.
Debby in not-so-sunny St. Augustine, Florida