reading Ammon Shea’s Reading the OED, and loving it (of course), i’ve been inspired to start a (weekly? regularly occasional, at least) series of posts on Archaic Food Words – the emphasis being on words having to do with food, obscure or mostly forgotten, as opposed to mere culinary jargon or technical terminology, because who cares about that, really?
i don’t, and since everyone cares about me, and i care about this, here you go.
today’s word is moreish more – ish (adj) re: food, that which is so good as to encourage further indulgence, irrespective of any nutritional value or otherwise life-sustaining properties.
note that i lamentably don’t have the original OED definition at hand, b/c Shea doesn’t himself include any more than a snippet thereof (copyright, maybe?), so what you get here is a cobbling together of my own recollection of his definition and whatever i can find online. explicitly for editorial purposes, what i like about this word is that unlike delicious, say, it leaves open the possibility of application to foods that one feels compelled to continue to consume even in spite of their lack of really recommendable qualities of taste. reminding me of Benjamin’s (re: figs) “I ate it to destroy it,” which while not wholly appropriate, i’ve been thinking about (and therefor you’ll be hearing about) a lot over the past few days.
from Swift, via A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, eds. Partridge & Beale, 2002:
Lady S. “How do you like this tea, Colonel?”
Colonel Well enough, Madam; but methinks ’tis a little moreish”