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.

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




Everyday Food

Cold Turkey

This refers to an addict’s skin reaction to heroin withdrawal. As an addict stops using the drug, blood is drawn toward the internal organs, thereby leaving the skin to resemble a cold, plucked turkey.

The origin dates back to 1910 and originally meant “without preparation,” referring to the ease of making a dish of cold turkey. In 1922, the expression acquired its darker connotation related to drug withdrawal.



This delicious dish originates from the state of Louisiana, which blends the culinary regional Indian, African, French, and Spanish cultures. The word “gumbo” is derived from an African word for “okra” : “gombo.” It first appeared in print in 1805.

Food Life

Easy as Pie

Are pies really that easy to make? They sure are easy to eat, especially if it’s blueberry or chocolate creme or apple… or savory pies like chicken pot pie, or shepherd’s pie. Anyway, where does this phrase come from?

Supposedly, this simile was coined in 19th Century America. There are many similes in English, which basically perform the function of a simple comparison. Although there are quite a few variations of ‘pie’ similes, they are all distinctly American, and usually denote pleasantry and ease, such as “nice as pie,” “polite as pie,” or “pleasant as pie.”