• gastronomy •
gæ-strahn-ê-mi • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The art or science of good eating, the culinary arts. 2. The style of cooking of a particular region.
Notes: since it reflects taste more than the stomach. The personal noun is a bit odd, gastronome, a judge of culinary art or someone who simply enjoys it. The adjective is gastronomic. It is related semantically and phonologically to a previous Good Word, gastromancy.
In Play: The first sense of today's word implies the art of haute cuisine: "Sal McGundy is a chef who applies the principles of astronomy to gastronomy, and the results are pretty good." The other meaning of gastronomy refers to the cuisine of a region: "'Soul food' is simply the gastronomy of the southern US states: collards, okra, black-eyed peas, and cornbread."
Word History: English collected this word, as usual, from French gastronomie, which came by it from Greek gastronomia. The word comprises gaster "stomach" (genitive gastros) + nomos "law" + -ia, a mass noun suffix. Gaster is the victim of metathesis. It was formerly graster "eater, devourer", a noun from gran "to gnaw, eat". The Proto-Indo-European word lying behind gran is gras- "to devour, eat". It came through English's Germanic ancestors to emerge as graze, grass, and cress, a delightful edible salad. It also shows up in Greek as grastis and Latin as gramen, both meaning "grass, fodder". (Our gratitude today is due Sue Gold of Westtown School, a woman of extremely good taste in words.)
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