• cuisine •
kwi-zeen • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Style of cooking, as Spanish cuisine or Thai cuisine. 2. Any food, especially if it is exceptionally well-prepared.
Notes: The words for cooking and the kitchen are the same in many languages: French cuisine, Italian cucina, Spanish cocina, Russian kukhnya, German Küche, and Dutch keuken; in fact, English kitchen may be used in the same two senses. Today's Good Word, however, was borrowed from French and is used as a synonym of cooking when fine cooking is intended. Haut cuisine "high (exceptional) cooking" makes the distinction clearer.
In Play: Cuisine is a style of cooking usually associated with nationalities, "My gourmand friend, Al Dente, prefers the Scottish cuisine of MacDonald's to all others." However, it is not excluded from referring to very specialized styles, "Maude Lynn's cuisine is distinguished by her commitment to prevent anything from rising from the plate and surprising the diner—even a vagrant aroma."
Word History: Cuisine comes from Late Latin coquina, feminine of Latin coquinus "related to cooking" from coquus "a cook", the personal noun of coquere "to cook". Believe it or not, the root of this word was Proto-Indo-European pekw- "cook, ripen", which ended up as pech' "to bake" (peku "I bake") in Russian. In some European languages, however, the second [kw] was assimilated by the initial [p] giving kwekw-, hence the two [k] sounds in English cook. The same stem became Old English cycene, Middle English kichene and, finally, kitchen. In Greek, [p]s took over both [kw]s, giving us the root in peptein "to cook, ripen, digest" and pepsia "digestion", which found its way into English in dyspepsia "indigestion". In Sanskrit only the w and the [e] changed: pakva meant "ripe".
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