2005-06-17 20:25:04 UTC
Searching for examples of garbanzo led me to a 1770 letter from Benjamin
Franklin to the American botanist John Bartram, in which Franklin used the
word garavances, possibly a variant of garbanzos. As it happened, the letter
was about a new recipe that Franklin had acquired, for Chinese tau-fu. Both
Bartram and Franklin were vegetarians, which explains their interest.
I send.. some Chinese Garavances, with Father Navaretta's account of the
universal use of a cheese made of them, in China Some runnings of salt (I
suppose runnet) is put into water when the meal is in it, to turn it to
curds. I think we have Garavances with us; but I know not whether they are
same with these, which actually came from China, and are what the Tau-fu is
The earliest example of tofu currently in the OED is 1880, so this is an
antedating of more than one hundred years. The editors have not yet
considered it for publication, and further research may be necessary.
It seems that /tau fu/ may come from Cantonese of that pronunciation, (but
"tofu" comes via Japanese, I believe). Perhaps via trade with Macau.