Dirt Words


Well, I missed Earth Day by just a bit, but here are some food words that ‘grew’ out of the dirt under our feet…

Compote.  At work we serve a Dutch oven pancake with berry compost…I mean, compote.  I try not to make that mistake while describing the thin, light breakfast food to a customer.  But in reality, compote and compost are etymologically the same.  Compote is stewed fruit, and the word comes from old French ‘composte’ and means ‘a mixture’.  This is also the same origin for the word ‘compost’, as in the fertilizer.

Hummus.  No party is complete without a bowl of organic matter turned to soil and eaten on a chip.  Or wait…are those chickpeas they use?  Subtract one ‘m’ from hummus and you get the good, rich dirt that will feed your chickpeas.  Hummus and humus are both also related to the word human.  In the Middle East, hummus, the dip, is just about as old as man himself.  It is considered one of the oldest known foods and dates back to Ancient Egypt.

Garbage.  The word garbage comes from the Old French term garbeGarbe means ‘a bundle of sheaves, entrails’.  Now we use the word ‘garbage’ for anything that we throw out, but it used to only mean the giblets of an animal.  Giblets are the heart, gizzard, liver and other visceral organs that not everyone has the stomach for.

Muddled.  Mojitos make scorching summer days just a little bit better.  Directions for the perfect mojito say to bathe some mint in mud, and shake that with rum, lime juice and sugar.  Pour over ice and add some club soda.  On second thought, that doesn’t sound quite right.  Originally, the word ‘muddle’ meant to bathe something in mud.  Then the definition changed to ‘destroying the clarity of an object’ which can still be used today. We also use it to describe mashing something.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our dirty Earth words.  Do you still have an appetite?  No?

Ops.  Sorry 🙂


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