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OLLA (AHL-uh, OH-yah)

  1. An unglazed pot or jar for cooking or holding water

  2. A meaty, spicy stew

Common clues: ____ podrida; Spanish pot, Earthenware pot, Spicy stew; Stewpot; Paella pot; It's a crock

Crossword puzzle frequency: 4 times a year

News: Finding the true tastes of Mexico

Video: Jorge Quintana Makes an Olla

A thousand years ago in Chaco Canyon, this olla, or water jar, was left on the floor of a pithouse where two families lived. Their pithouse was part of a small homestead in the shadow of Fajada Butte. These people, known to archeologists as the Chaco Anasazi, built and lived in their home from AD 950-1030, a time of transition in the canyon. Nearly a hundred years before, construction at great houses Penasco Blanco, Pueblo Bonito, and nearby Una Vida had begun. By the time this pithouse was abandoned, around AD 1030, the people living in the canyon had begun a hundred-year period of intense construction that completed all the great houses in Chaco Canyon. [National Park Service]

Olla podrida is a popular dish in Spain and Galicia. It dates back to the Middle Ages, when it was called olla poderida, where poderida meant "powerful" ("olla" refers to stew or to the stew pot), referring to the powerful ingredients that it included, or because only the rich powerful could get near this dish.

Following certain rules of the language, the "e" disappeared and left the word "podrida," a word which means "rotten." This oftentimes leads to much confusion, such as theories that the word referred to a stew which incorporated old bits of meat which were starting to "go off."

Its principal ingredient is the red bean, and is well appreciated when it is made with the exquisite red beans of Ibeas de Juarros. The beans are traditionally prepared in a clay pot over several hours (hence its name) until they become soft. To the stew one adds the following "powerful" ingredients: bacon, morcilla from Burgos, chorizo, and the ribs, ears, and snout of smoked pig. The dish sometimes includes la bola or stuffing (similar to the cocido stew), finished with egg. It is eaten as a main course, although one serves beans first and then the meats separately.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Olla podrida"