Saturday, June 4, 2005

Wordy cocktail

TO look for the origins of a word that is very popular but without a proven history can be more thrilling and romantic than reading a bestseller. The word ‘cocktail’ is one such promising item.

There are as many as five different stories, each more colourful than the other, to explain the roots of ‘cocktail’. The simple folk version states that after taking two or three cocktails, a person is ready for a race like a horse with its ‘tail cocked’. Get the connection? The people of New Orleans claim that one of their early bartenders, Antoine Peychaud, devised the drink and served it in a cup called ‘coquetier’, a word that later on evolved into ‘cocktail’. Story Three holds that an Aztec noble sent his emperor a drink of cactus juice through his daughter called, hold your breath, ‘Xochtil’. Like any other fairy tale, in this one too, the king married the girl and gave her name to the drink. Were five stories mentioned? Okay, let’s keep the other two to brighten up some dull day. For the present, drinks over, take a peep into the foodie words.

A bibacious person is one who is very fond of drinking. Bibacious comes from the Latin bibere that means ‘to drink’. And. ebrious, from the Latin ebrius, meaning drunk, is used for a tipsy person.

Inebriated and sobriety are two words from the same root. An excessive appetite is covered by the word polyphagia, a word that also refers to the habit of feeding on many kinds of food. It originates from the Greek polyphagia, made up of polyphagos, meaning ‘much or many’ and phagy, meaning ‘eating’. Sitophobia is a morbid aversion to food made up of the Greek sito that refers to food and phobia that means ‘fear or aversion’.

Postprandial is an adjective that refers to anything that follows a meal, especially dinner. Made up of the Latin prefix ‘post’ that means ‘after’ and ‘prandium’ that means ‘meal’, it is in the company of preprandial or ‘before a meal’ and prandial or to a meal’.