Daily Archives: May 28, 2021

escal

So… we have some food. Heh. “Food.” “Snack food.” 

Well, it’s escal.

Escal? Isn’t that just a scale you stepped on too hard and the end spun around to the beginning? Nope, it’s a word for ‘fit to be eaten’ or ‘pertaining to food’. In other words, it’s pretty close to edible. But… edible has taken on a new sense lately. At least in my neighbourhood, where there are various cannabis emporiums springing up like, uh, weeds. And after you’ve had an edible or two, what do you call the kind of thing you may want some of?

Just to be clear, by the way, I have not been eating edibles. I mean, I have, but not of the tetrahydrocannabinol kind, just… food. Escal things. We had some leftover barbecue ribs with beans for supper. And after a little bit we each had a Werther’s. And I finished the cheese-and-caramel popcorn. And then I felt like opening the taco chips. And… it kind of escalated. Ya know? It was escal and I ated.

That is not where escal comes from, though. Nor from escalier, the (related) French word for stairs, which are 27 storeys from the street to our apartment and yes, I have taken them, yes, recently (our building’s elevators are not always reliable and we have no escalators), and yes, it does build up an appetite. But no, escal comes from esca.

Now, I don’t know about you, but Esca looks to me like a name. Maybe the name of a Roman nobleman – like Casca – or maybe a Celtic deity – like Ecne – or maybe a soft drink – like Fresca. (One of those three is wise and hasn’t killed anyone. Hint: the Irish one.) But esca is really just a Latin word for ‘food’.

It isn’t the only Latin word for ‘food’. There’s also cibus (modern Italian for ‘food’ is cibo), victus (as in victual but not as in invictus or victim), and alimentum (alimentary, dear Watson). But esca has its own related words: esculent is a fine word, and the related Latin verb edo gives us edacious, a good adjective for a caterpillar or any other incessantly esurient entity. Oh, and come to think of it, edible also comes from edo.

Ya know what else comes from Edo? Sukiyaki, teriyaki, tempura… oh, um, Edo is the name of a chain of Japanese restaurants, no relation. But they excel in the escal, the kind of thing you might want if you’re peckish. Still, I’m not going out to get food, not at this hour, and not when we have all this stuff in bags. Well, look. It was on sale, see?