More Meat Musings
By R. D. Flavin

7-5-2013

     When recently asked by friends if there were any vegetarian restaurants in my neighborhood, I suppressedd an urge to snark, “Order a Side Salad at McDonald's,” and my mind's eye twisted the word 'restaurant', and I focused on “staur” and then “taur.”  I blurted out, “Restaurants by design serve meat and a vegetarian restaurant would be a misnomer.”  Yeah, sometimes I can be a jerk, but this is nothing new.  Flayed into long strips and dried in the sun works well on a holiday, but that's ...so very much yesterday.  Now, usually when one side-steps the rules of reason there's a nearby convenient pit filled with all types of disposable “truths” to fall into. And a shout-out to Charles Fort, Lo!  More meat musings are hereby served as a digital data dinner for those not on a diet of silly!

English – restaurant
a place that sells prepared food

     As is understood, even though English is a Germanic language (actually, a pidgen created for the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes to talk about cruel ways to kill the Celts), after 1066 many English went bi- and adopted buko French loanwords (both structurally semantic and hybrid translations), as somewhere in the vicinity of eighty-five percent of Middle English is Franco-borrowed.  Yeah, Hank cinq and all of that!  And, while the Brits were getting used to speaking and writing English, the French continued to develop new words and terms.  Like restaurant and restorant...

French – restorant
a place that sells a meat broth
a place that sells a restorative

     Yeah, those Renaissance Parisians may have been moved by bel esprit, but when exhausted from the burden of being French, they needed a cup of “fortifying“ meat broth to pick them up.  And, little shops started selling bouillon cubes and hot water (from bouillir, to boil, as in boil the beef/boef < Latin bos, bovis or “cow”).  Because if there's one thing the French could count on to restore the honnête homme it was a cup of meat broth!  So, restaurants serve bouillon broth and my anti-vegetarian silliness may have a cereal grain of truth.  Yet, as easy often encourages trouble, in a strict and narrow sense 'restaurant' would be a place that restores (albeit with tasty meat broth).  French haute cuisine aside, as one of those so-called Romance languages, one has to wonder about the Italians.  One always has to wonder about the Italians...

Italian ristorante
a place that sells Italian food like The Olive Garden
a place that sells a restorative

     No, it doesn't involve a horse meat, not yet anyway, but it does involve Dante trying to be a stand-up comedian by putting chubby gluttons in the Third Circle of Hell.  As William Shakespeare is often regarded as the father of English literature (and the good uncle of the English language, as he invented 1700-2000 new words, yet only gets credit for signing his name funny), so too is Dante Alighieri considered the father of the Italian language.  The Franks call Italian, “la langue de Dante,” in no small part owed to his bad habit of overcooking the spaghetti, but also because he standardized the Italian language from his local Florentine (with spinach) dialect of the vulgar Latin vernacular.  His aim was Italian and his method was a cold supper of unrequited romance.  Pizza wouldn't be invented for another half of a millennium, French restaurants traditionally don't deliver, and the poet likely didn't favor dining out much.  Sirius-ly, all roads and restaurants lead to Rome and we've got plod back to Latium and its extinct volcano worshipping Latini.  No, I'm not going to discuss hidden plumbing...

Latin restaurāre, restauro
to restore, repair, rebuild

Latin instaurāre, instauro
to stock (a farm)
to establish, ordain

     The ancient Romans accomplished much besides building roads, providing public vomitoriums, and cruxifying Jesus, but for the purpose of this musing the Latin language and the Roman alphabet demand special consideration in that we still rely on Latin to sound cool (e.g., ad hominem for a side-order of grits, carpe diem for fish-sticks, and pro bono for supporting U2) and the Roman form of the letters of the alphabet remains the dominant character set for communication (at least until China goes all abominable desolation on the rest of us).  That said (...cough), we trace the French restorant to the Latin rēstaurāre and restauro, that is to restore or repair.  The related term, instaurāre, that is to stock a farm by buying a bull or establish and erect something, demonstrates its reliance on those folks across the Ionian Sea, the Éllines.  Okay, some nervous chick named Athamantis couldn't keep a grip on the golden fleece, took a fatal splash, and an entire people named themselves and their country after her.  The Romans would have none of that and called them Greeks.

Greek stauros
an upright stake or pole
(later, a cross)

     'Tis not a simple route, this bovine path I wander and wonder on, but with a bottle of ketchup gripped firmly in hand I advance.  Beyond war and conquest, past the Stop 'n' Shop with the radio on, we all come from agriculturists and pastoralists.  The crop and the herd serve as the basis of personal wealth and societal strength.  As all journeys begin with a first step, so too must piles be driven into the ground to serve as a foundation (The Histories by Herodotus; 5.16).  The Greek stauros was a functional and fixed statement and tool.  It could be built upon, measured from, and made to support ...things that farmers would need to dry such as selected meats or crops.  Later, for a time, it would be used for people as well.  Such an important cultural component must have been commonplace where the Éllines came from.  You know, where all Indo-European speakers came from ...the forest-steppe just north of the Caucasus region in southwestern and central Russia.  Yeah, a hop with a stick to Bronze Age South Central Asia and the wheeler-dealers of the Bactria and Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC).  Anywho, the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) speakers of the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age had transportation (ox-carts), recognized the cow (PIE *gwous) as important, liked apples, and imagined a Sky-Father god.  The PIE *stau-ro- and its root *stā- are understood as meaning to stand or be firm, and has derivatives which mean "place or thing that is standing."  Consonants stand firm, but vowels display movement.

PIE *steu-ro-
strength or sturdiness

Pokorny Etymon 1080-1085: *tēu-, *təu-, *teu̯ə-, *tu̯ō-, *tū̆-
to swell, to intumesce and enlarge

     In Sanskrit sthura means "thick, compact," the Avestan staora are "big cattle," and the Middle Persian stor is a "horse, draft animal."  The Greek tauros, a bull, came from the PIE *tauro-, which also manifested as the Old English stēor, a steer.  The PIE speakers didn't have restaurants, though throughout the BMAC were plenty of oasis trading centers which offered the finest goodies of the day.

     Now, the ancient Greeks and Romans had establishments which functioned as restaurants and then, as today, there were taverns which served drink (wine and beer only).  The commercial hospitality establishments (shops with counters) were known as thermopolia and thermopolium and found throughout Magna Graecia (sometimes featuring entertainment).  It would not be unreasonable to imagine one purchasing a burger and a beer at such a place (though most shops pushed their own brand of spiced wine).  That thermē is ancient Greek for 'heat' bespeaks a joint the barbaros might hang out at.  All's fine if one's not expecting a free lunch.  Maybe there were vegetarian restaurants in the ancient world when they ran out of meat...

     My mind's eye took 'restaurant' quite afield in an instant and I wish there existed some type of corrective wear to buy.  I mean, such a thing would have to go with my present “Geeky Thin Plastic Frame Large Round Clear Lens Eye Glasses,” but I'd be willing to give such a go.  Indian restaurants generally offer vegetarian cuisine and would be deserving of an Indo-European shout-out.  Haoma!  I'll take mine to go.

Anticipating the Heinz® Ketchup,
Rick

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