"Dinner Impossible" chef Robert Irvi...

“Dinner Impossible” chef Robert Irvine giving his verdict on finished item (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, the other day on his Food Network show, “Restaurant Impossible,” chef Robert Irvine offered a critique of a failing restaurant in an effort to help the owners save their restaurant.

He took a piece of apparently overcooked pasta, smashed it in his hands and showed the resultant goo on his fingers to the camera. “Pasta should not be paste,” he declared.

Since paste is made of flour and water, and so is pasta, my inner Word Nerd set off an alarm, and I find myself in the P section of my Webster’s New World College Dictionary today.

Guess what? The word pasta comes from the Italian (no surprise), through the Latin (no surprise), and originates from the Greek word paste, which means “mess of barley porridge” (there’s the surprise.)

Hmmm. No wonder they got the idea to invent noodles rather than eat a mess of porridge.

Delicious barley porridge


English: A plate of cellentani (also referred ...

The ultimate root of paste is the Greek verb passein…to sprinkle. [The Online Etymology Dictionary says the mess of barley porridge was sprinkled with salt.]

In fact, the first four definitions of paste (the New World Dictionary lists the oldest definitions first) have to do with food.

No wonder elementary school kids eat paste in school!

It’s  not official, but it is my Word Nerd’s guess that the Greek paste is related to the Indo-European root pat, which led to the Latin words pastor and panis (bread) and also to our English words pasture and food (which came to us through the Middle English rather than the Latin). Too primal of a term not to at least be related, to my thinking.

Other words from the Greek paste include:






 Bet you didn’t think you’d get an art lesson today, huh? But I’ll leave it to your inquisitive minds to discover how pastels are made, and what impasto is.

WORD NERD CHALLENGE OF THE WEEK: Discover for yourself the origin of the word porridge! Let me know what you find out.

Blessings, Fellow Word Nerds!


P.S. Robert Irvine also had a Food Network show called “Dinner Impossible,” from which I got the CC picture I included in today’s blog.

Also check out my blog post: Beer, Bread, and Fever.