Jewish World Review August 29, 2002 / 21 Elul, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | My whole life I have been an unrepentant, self-confessed verbivore, and I can already sense the presence of thousands of wordaholic and verbivorous readers out there. Carnivores partake of flesh and meat; piscivores gobble fish; herbivores consume plants and vegetables; verbivores eat words (sometimes their own). My whole life I have feasted on words -- ogled their appetizing shapes, colors, textures; swished them around in my mouth; felt their juices running down my chin.
Now let us verbivores nibble on a spicy, meaty, juicy honey of a topic that we're sure to savor and relish. I'm talking about culinary metaphors that are packed like sardines and sandwiched into our everyday conversations.
For one example, take salt. The ancients knew that salt was essential to a good diet, and centuries before human-made refrigeration, it was the only chemical that could preserve meat. Thus, a portion of the wages paid to Roman soldiers was salt money, with which to buy salt (Latin, sal). This stipend came to be called a salarium, from which we acquire the word salary.
Although you should always take what I say with a grain of salt, I hope that you'll find the following quiz to be worth its salt. All the culinary answers appear below. But try to answer the, yourself first.
1. What's so humble about humble pie?
2. Why, exactly, is something defective or otherwise disappointing described as a lemon?
3. What does being crabby have to do with crabs?
4. What does the grapevine, through which we "heard it," have to do with war?
5. What is the cold shoulder that gets turned on us?
6. Centuries ago, captive gray geese were tied down and, six times a day, force fed a thick paste of sewed maize, buckwheat, and chestnut flour. This process enlarged the bird's liver, already a highly prized ingredient in goose-liver pie. By metaphoric comparison, a person who has had more than enough of food or anything else is said to be ...............
1. In the Middle Ages, umble pies were large pies filled with the less appetizing parts of a deer, such as the hearts, brain, liver, and entrails. The lord of the manor and his family and guests dined on venison in the banquet hall, while the huntsmen and servants ate umble pie in the kitchen.
2. When slot machines came onto the American scene in the early part of this century, a lemon, in combination with any other symbol, always signified that the player lost. It didn't take long for the lemon, a sour-tasting fruit to begin with, to acquire the sense of "defective, disappointing."
3. Except for sound, crabby has nothing to do with the crustacean. Crabby actually refers to the sour crab apple.
4. Grapevine , meaning "news mysteriously conveyed," is a shortening of "grapevine telegraph," a telegraph line between Placerville, California and Virginia City, Nevada constructed during the Civil War. The loose, trailing wires were thought to look like a wild grapevine.
5. The cold shoulder was actually a unheated shoulder of mutton served to unwelcome or no-longer-welcome guests of a household. When you received such a culinary cold shoulder, you were to take the hint and vacate the premises.
6. Fed up.
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08/22/02: Jest for the pun of it