Everyday Food Life Oddities

Chinese Menu

The origin of the second sense is from the practice of some Chinese restaurants which — for a fixed price — instruct the customer to make selections such as “one from Column A, two from Column B, one from Column C”, where the columns may contain, for example, a selection of soups, appetizers, and entrees.

Everyday Life military Oddities


The word is derived from a Greek word “toxikón”, which is a the arrow of type of bow.
It is thought that this word became our western world meaning of “poisonous” because of the story of Hercules.
Hercules’ second labor was to kill the nine-headed Hydra.

Once Hercules slayed the Hydra, he dipped his arrows in the Hydra’s blood. This made his arrows poisonous.

Food Necessities


The etymology of ketchup actually has several competing theories, namely: the Chinese theory, the “eggplant sauce” theory, the Malay theory, and the European-Arabic theory. The Chinese theory seems pretty strong, we must admit…

In the Chinese theory, it stems from either “kôe-chiap” or “kê-chiap”, both from the Amoy dialect, where it means “the brine of pickled fish or shellfish.”




As for the “eggplant sauce” theory, “ketchup” derives from a Chinese word composed of two characters (茄汁), which means “eggplant sauce”. The first character (), meaning “eggplant”, is also the root for the word “tomato” and the second character () means “juice” or “sauce.”

The Malay theory states that the English word originates from the Malay word kicap (or, kecapketjap), which translates to “fish sauce” – which is borrowed from the Chinese, anyway…

European-Arabic Theory:  E.N. Anderson, an American anthropologist, claimed that ketchup comes from the French escaveche, meaning “food in sauce”  (imagine… French ketchup!) while culinary historian Karen Hess traced it back to Arabic iskebey, or “pickling with vinegar”.



Blue Label Ketchup 1898, from wiki article





In Spades

The ‘spades’ in this phrase refers to the highest suit in cards, not the shovel. How did this shape get its name?

Playing Cards originated in Asia and spread across Europe around the 14th century. It arrived in England a little later than in Spain, Italy and Germany.

In spades“Essentially, the Italian versions of early cards used the suits CupsSwordsCoins and Batons — which, on migration to England, became HeartsSpadesDiamonds and Clubs. The image for Spades on English and French cards looks somewhat like that of the German Acorn or Leaf suits, but its origin is revealed by its name rather than its shape. The Spanish and Italian for sword is ‘espada’ and ‘spada’ respectively, hence the suit ‘Swords’ became anglicized as ‘Spades’.”

So where does the non-card-playing meaning come from? It is an Americanism:

First of all, the phrase isn’t found before the 1920s. Damon Runyon, an American journalist and writer, used the expression that way in a piece for Hearst’s International magazine, in October 1929:

I always hear the same thing about every bum on Broadway, male and female, including some I know are bums, in spades, right from taw.

Some other spade phrases: “cocky as the King of Spades”, “call a spade a spade”, “spade something up”

Everyday Life Oddities

Kick the Bucket

The link between buckets and death was made by at least 1785, when the phrase was defined in Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue:

“To kick the bucket, to die.”

Although there is not much evidence to support it, one theory as to why the phrase originates from the notion: people hanged themselves by standing on a bucket with a noose around their neck and then kicking the bucket away.