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Piquant, Ambrosial & More: Food Words Worth Savoring

Top 10 Words About Food


Definition:

1 : agreeably stimulating to the palate; especially: spicy

2 : engagingly provocative; also : having a lively arch charm

Examples:

"The emphasis is on comedy, but there's an undercurrent of piquant social commentary." - Marty Clear, Tampa Bay Times, October 13, 2012

About the Word:

These days, piquant is a positive description - whether it's applied to spicy food or provocative wit. It hasn't always been. Piquant once meant "disagreeably sharp; stinging; provocative; cutting." Its ancestor meant "to prick or sting."

Definition:

extremely pleasing to the senses, especially of taste or smell

Examples:

"Much as I love apples... it is their curvaceous cousin the pear - voluptuously shaped, scented and floral, dripping with ambrosial juices - that seems most completely to encapsulate the idea of fruity temptation." - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The Guardian, October 26, 2012

About the Word:

Ambrosia comes from the Greek word for "immortality"; ambrosia was the food of the Greek and Roman gods (nectar was their drink).

Definition:

food; victuals

Examples:

"Clearly, Anheuser-Busch knew what it was doing when it placed its 'hospitality tent' full of free beer and grub next to the press center at Tuesday's debate." - Adam Martin, New York Magazine, October 17, 2012

About the Word:

The grub that means "food" has the same (less appetizing) origin as the grub that refers to both a soft thick wormlike larva and a slovenly person. All these senses developed from a Middle English word meaning "to dig."

Definition:

a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides

Examples:

"There was a wheel of parmesan that took me straight to umami heaven, and the biggest spears of steamed asparagus, massive broccoli crowns, sweet hearts of palm and a platter of some of the most gorgeous lettuce (I know, right?) I've ever seen kept me coming back for more." - Jessica Cickay, FinanceFoodie.com, November 5, 2012

About the Word:

Umami comes from the Japanese word meaning "savoriness; flavor." It first appeared in English in 1979, although the taste had been isolated and named seventy years earlier, by chemistry professor Dr. Kikunae Ikeda.

Definition:

related to or associated with eating or the sense of taste

Examples:

"[Anthony Bourdain] owes this perhaps to his famously vulgar and slightly misanthropic take on gustatory adventuring, which despite itself, has enjoyed more popularity than notoriety." - Rachel Tepper, HuffingtonPost.com, October 29, 2012

About the Word:

Gustatory is a late 17th century creation coined from the Latin gustare meaning "to taste." It was originally used in technical contexts to describe things like the mouth's gustatory nerves, but in the 21st century it's no stranger to cooking magazines where it's paired with words like pleasure and delight.

Gustatory is also related (albeit distantly) to gusto and - more surprisingly - disgust.

Definition:

(slang) mouth

Examples:

"While not my favorite type of dessert, I found myself making multiple excuses to re-taste it and shoveled a little more into my piehole while my companion was distracted." - Liz Moskow, Daily Camera, June 8, 2012

About the Word:

The word "piehole" dates to the 1983 horror movie Christine, in which a character says "Then shut your pie-hole."

Definition:

an oversize wine bottle holding about 16 times the volume of a normal bottle

Examples:

"Are you preparing to serve wine to 96 guests? Then a Balthazar is just your ticket!" - Kathleen Rake, "Between the Vines" blog, July 13, 2011

About the Word:

One of the largest of all wine bottle sizes, the balthazar is named after a 6th century B.C.E. king of Babylon mentioned in the Bible: "Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand." (Daniel 5:1, King James Version)

Definition:

having the flavor of game; especially: having the flavor of game kept uncooked till near tainting

Examples:

"The goat was a bit of an adventure, but delicious in its slightly gamy, tender way." - Rita Moran, Ventura County Star, November 8, 2012

About the Word:

Gamy has a number of other uses that pick up on the idea of "tainted." These uses are fairly rare, at least in America, but are still evocative.

For example, it can mean "sordid, scandalous," as in "he gave us all the gamy details"; or "corrupt, disreputable," as in "a gamy character"; or "sexually suggestive," as in "a singles bar where the conversations and come-on lines tend to be gamy."

Definition:

intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas

Examples:

"[The album] Earth 2 plunges you into the belly of a mastodon after a huge feast, and the sound is like the ensuing borborygmus." - Dave Segal, The Stranger, May 30, 2012

About the Word:

Borborygmus is onomatopoeic, or imitative - it sounds like the thing it describes. It's a New Latin word (Latin as used in scientific description and classification) that comes from the Greek borboryzein, "to rumble."

Postprandial

Definition:

occurring after a meal

Examples:

"Newly fortified, take a postprandial walk around Plaza San Francisco and call in on the magnificent church and monastery museum here." - Harriet O’Brien, The Independent, November 18, 2012

About the Word:

Although the Latin prandium actually means "late breakfast; lunch," postprandial now refers to activities after any meal, especially those that aid digestion.




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