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Enough of "collections"! Last we looked at "savory collectives": food terms that have become collective nouns. This week we'll look at terms of tasty food.

bonne bouche– a delicious morsel, as a treat (also used figuratively, as in the last two quotes)
[French, "good mouth"]
    [He] every day dips one of them in his soup, and makes his dog jump for it, and finally gives it to him as a bonne bouche.
    – Edgar Allan Poe, Diddling

    Flo Ziegfeld had grown rich in the past twenty-five tears on the annual production of his Ziegfeld Follies revues ... In between these bonne-bouches he created a raft of Broadway hits including Show Boat
    – Christopher Wilson, Dancing with the Devil: The Windsors and Jimmy Donahue

    I don't in the least mean to say that we were the sort of persons who aspired to mix 'with royalty'. … But the Grand Duke was a pleasant, affable sort of royalty, … and it was pleasant to hear him talk about the races and, very occasionally, as a bonne bouche, about his nephew, the Emperor …
    – Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier
 
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Ambrosia and nectar, the food and drink of the Greek and Roman gods, have come to mean respectively any delicious food and drink. [Sometimes confusing food with drink!]

ambrosia – something very pleasing to taste or smell (also, a dessert of oranges and shredded coconut)
nectar – any delicious wine or other drink (now esp. a kind of sweetened fruit juice)

Each word is rooted in Greek for the concept that the gods are immortal:
ambrosios,, from a- "not" + mbrotos, related to mortos "mortal"
nektar, said to be nek- death (as in necrosis – death of most or all of the cells in an organ)+ -tar overcoming

I’ll illustrate each with the rare adjective-version, which comes in a variety of forms. Some recent quotes first.
    Snails. Big, fat, juicy, sweet, succulent, ambrosiac snails!
    – Colleen McCullough, The First Man in Rome

    The food was well-cooked and would have been good in any case; starved as I was, it was ambrosial.
    – Diana Gabaldon, Voyager

    Of course, the pig's head frightens most people away from its nectarean hulk. But the tastiest part of your pig is his head …
    – Gourmet Magazine Editors and Ruth Reichl, Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet
And now, older quotes showing some variant forms.
    Oh charming mild glance, oh ambrosian lips, oh gay laughter!
    – Samuel Taylor Coleridge and H. J. Jackson, The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics) (unclear if this is Coleridge or the editor speaking)

    For dinner savory fruits of taste to please / True appetite, and not disrelish thirst / Of nectarous draughts between from milky stream, / Berry or grape …
    – John Milton, Paradise Lost

    She consented that the village-maiden … should brew a certain kind of beer, nectareous to the palate, and of rare stomachic virtues …
    – Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables
 
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gustable1. capable of being tasted 2. pleasant to the taste; toothsome. (We’ve previously seen the word "toothsome".)

I do like the first quote on this rarely-used word. Who would have anticipated that cannibalism could have a positive effect on a society’s morals?!
    The Islanders prided themselves that they were not cannibalistic, but merely appreciative of the "gifts of the goddess"—bodies of criminals. Moral standards were unusually high, for the monotonous fish-diet made every man the more eager to detect a gustable neighbor's mortal infringement of law.
    – Time Magazine, Nov. 19, 1928, reviewing Mr. Blettsworthy on Rampole Island by H. G. Wells

    . . ."Do sit down," … . "Elmira's maid left us some coffee." … She felt a little shy, covering up this feeling with a serious inquiry into his tastes. "Cream? Sugar?"
    . . ."Black!" he expostulated, as if the mere suggestion of some other possibility were a desecration. "Black, of course. That's the only way it's gustable. Don't you prefer black yourself, Mrs. Fuller?"
    . . ."Oh, yes," Dilly admitted. "I always take it black."
    . . . "We have a lot in common," Mr. Smith observed. The discovery seemed to give him pleasure.
    – Daisy Newman, The Autumns [sic] Brightness
 
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> more eager to detect a gustable neighbor's mortal infringement of law.

I'm not so sure that (with the emPHAsis added) this would be such a positive.
 
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sapid – (chiefly N. Amer.) 1. flavorsome 2. pleasant or interesting
[Latin sapidus, from sapere to taste]
    The juices released by the meat [pot roast] mingle with the broth, to be reduced and then reabsorbed by the meat during the final glazing. This technique concentrates and melds the flavors of broth, meat, herbs and aromatic vegetables into a sapid and flavorful whole.
    – James Peterson, Essentials of Cooking
Yummy! Are we hungry now?
 
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The "sap" of taste becomes the "sip" when negated, as with "insipid," the antonym of sapid.

Are there other such vowel shifts, in negations or elsewhere.


RJA
 
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Two words today meaning a fancy or choice dish: one complimentary, the other usually contemptuous.

viands1. foods, esp. very choice or delicious dishes (the singular form exists, but is very rare) 2. provisions, food
[At root a complimentary word, for it comes from Latin vivenda ‘things to be lived on’. (Ultimately, from Latin for ‘to live’]

kickshaw – a fancy dish in cookery (chiefly with contemptuous force: a fancified French 'something', not one of those good old English dishes.)
[This word sounds Anglo-Saxon, but is in fact a mangled mispronunciation of French quelque chose, ‘something’.]
    In those, the palmy days, … he was taken straight to the executive floor … and he had sat only at conference tables of mahogany with fruitwood bandings, amid walnut-paneled walls and more custom carpeting, and was served only viands by the in-house chef and coffee from New Orleans …
    –Tom Wolfe, A Man in Full

    [The Admiral, presiding at dinner:] “Elliot, tempt the ladies with that ragout. They may be partial to foreign kickshaws – made dishes are not to my taste.”
    – C.S. Forester, Ship of the Line
Kickshaw also has another meaning, illustrated by this quote:
    … figurines and souvenirs and kickshaws and mementos and gewgaws and bric-a-brac, everything either useless to begin with or ornamented so as to disguise its use; acres of luxuries; acres of excrement.
    – Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
 
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Interesting that both "viands" and "victuals" derive from life.

From Etymological dictionary:
victualia "provisions," noun use of plural of victualis "of nourishment," from victus "livelihood, food, sustenance," from base of vivere "to live" (see vital).


RJA
 
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