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Palimpsest

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What is the deal with this new fashion for food writers using this word to describe their meal?

Do they even know what it means?

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  1. Who would use this to describe food?
    To my knowledge this describes a manuscript or painting that has been written or painted over. Sometimes used to describe faded ads found on old buidings.

    Perhaps my imagination fails me, but how can this be applied to food? Maybe one of those Cake Wrecks where the baker scrapes off "Happy Birthday" and re-writes "You Old Coot, Have Some Cake?"

    6 Replies
    1. re: iluvcookies

      Hi iluvdookies,

      In the last few weeks I have encountered the use as a description several times.

      For example: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs...

      1. re: Gypsy Jan

        Huh... That is a strange word choice. Clearly he meant to convey the combination or layers of flavor were appealing, but that word doesn't mean what he thinks it means.

        There was a recent thread on the use of the word "deploy" in reference to getting things to the table quickly. I wonder if it's the same writer!

        1. re: iluvcookies

          I am the one who brought that up and no, the author writes cookbooks and does not write reviews.

      2. re: iluvcookies

        "To my knowledge this describes a manuscript or painting that has been written or painted over. Sometimes used to describe faded ads found on old buidings."

        What you described is a "pentimento". It has nothing whatsoever to do with food.

        1. re: pdxgastro

          As stated elsewhere in this topic, Merriam-Webster Online says:
          "Definition of PALIMPSEST
          1: writing material (as a parchment or tablet) used one or more times after earlier writing has been erased
          2: something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface <Canada … is a palimpsest, an overlay of classes and generations — Margaret Atwood>"

          So............. there we have validations for BOTH iluvcoookies definition AND the usage in the linked restaurant review from Gypsy Jan.

          That is not, of course, to be considered as my endorsement of the use of a really obscure word in a way which seems much more intended to bolster the writer's ego than to help the reader understand the intent of its use. I have, I guess, learned a new word.............. just one that I will probably never use.

          1. re: pdxgastro

            Pentimento is in fact specific to paintings, while palimpsest is specific to manuscripts.

            Interesting that when I googled pentimento (because I knew that I knew that word... from art history class ages ago) the first result was the name of a restaurant. Oy!

        2. I love words, and pride myself in a good vocabulary, but this one had me stumped. I finally found a definition that makes some sense in the Merriam Webster online dictionary, but the usage shown in the link you provided is a stretch at best. Someone trying to be overly pedantic ; ) "melange" would have worked better.

          "something having usually diverse layers or aspects apparent beneath the surface <Canada … is a palimpsest, an overlay of classes and generations"

          2 Replies
          1. re: PattiCakes

            Yes, I saw that too, but what does it have to do with food?

            1. re: Gypsy Jan

              Nothing, really. Just a writer trying to make themselves look smart by using a twenty-five cent word when a nickle word would do. Didn't work.

          2. Sheeesh!!! Just............... Sheeesh!!!

            Communication is hard enough without reaching that much into oblivion to find a word.

            1. I get the idea, so it's good enough for me. The first time I ever heard the word was in the phrase "palimpsest of fear," so I am more familiar with it in the poetic sense rather than literal.

              1. It's usually because most food writers are a palimpsest of different personas, with the deepest but strongest persona being Pulitzer-prize whore.

                1. So OK, I am am no longer scraping an old hide to complain about loud restaurants and hipsters with fedoras/knit caps and ta5oow/

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Gypsy Jan

                    What is "ta5oow/"?

                    1. re: meatn3

                      Bad spelling. I meant to type "reuse" :)

                      1. re: Gypsy Jan

                        Thanks! I no longer feel hopelessly out of the newest texting shortcuts!

                        1. re: meatn3

                          LOL - that's about the only texting shortcut I understand, other than LMAO.

                          But, I digress. ;)