Chickpeas? Garbanzo Beans? Where did these two names come from?

by | Apr 4, 2023 | Blog, Cooking Tips and Tricks, Culinary Anthropology | 0 comments

Let’s start with the chickpea. The Latin word cicer refers to the plant family of legumes. Actually, ancient Roman scholar Cicero got his name from the word cicer since his family grew legumes on their farm.  This word then led to “Pois Ciche” in modern French, which was then brought across the English channel to Chiche Peas in EnglishThis would eventually morph into chickpea as we know today. 

The roots of the word garbanzo come from Basque roots. Their word for chickpea was “garbantzu” which combined the word “garau,” meaning “seed,” and “antzu,” meaning “dry.” Without going into specifics of the history of the Basque and Spanish relations, there seems to be a feeling that the word was then stolen by the Spanish. 

Volunteers Judith and Xinran prepare roasted spiced chickpeas for the Senior Community Meal

Written by David Salerno

Originally from the Northeast, David (he/him) has been in Seattle since 2016. He studied classic culinary arts at the French Culinary Institute in NYC and currently works as the Senior Meal Program Coordinator at HIP. He can completely nerd out over culinary anthropology and can talk about food and food science for hours with anyone who is willing to listen. When not in the kitchen, you can find him playing hockey or running in different neighborhoods of Seattle.

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