Words matter because we need them to explain more important things like feelings and thoughts.  Epicuranoid, Pronunciation \ˌe-pi-kyu̇-ˈrē-ə-ˌnȯid\ is the fusion of epicure and paranoid.  It is however, as much a state of being as it is an adjective.  At its worst, it is a state where one may become paranoid of epicures, but I prefer it as a state of being somewhere between the fulfillment of desire and the onset of guilt.  It is the moment that you taste the fontina and herb stuffed veal chop while forgetting that you paid $50.00 to eat a baby mammal.

In this case, when a noun is smashed into an adjective an array of tiny particle meanings, which ultimately form the nucleus of the newly forged word, are split off into oblivion.  The first of those particles is epicure, which by today’s use is a somewhat gaudy synonym for gourmet — like gourmet is not gaudy enough.   I’m sure there are foodies somewhere who are offended because they fancy themselves so, but I can’t see myself ever referring to anyone as an epicure unless I’m being cynical or sarcastic.  This is perhaps because I’m jaded by too many years of cooking and serving the public.  I’ve learned that inside every person is an epicure.  Sadly there are people who have no choice what they eat, but there is not a person alive who does not take food very seriously, and in our own individual histories and cultures, be it beans and franks, or Belgian waffles, we are all epicures.

Following epicure is Epicurean, which is a great name for a restaurant, but spelled with a capital “E” generally refers to Epicurus, the ancient Greek philosopher.  Epicureanism is a branch of the school of hedonism – sounds like a fun school.  At its heart, ancient Epicureanism was based on the premises that a lack of pain and suffering constitutes happiness and folks should strive to have a life free from pain while causing no pain to others.  Sounds pretty good and a little “golden ruley” to me.  Unfortunately, in practice ancient Epicureans valued the pleasure that came from consumption less than they valued the control which they exercised over their desire for said consumption, and that sounds kind of Baptist to me.  If that is hedonism, I want no part of it.

The final particles are paranoia and paranoid.   Paranoia is a psychosis creating a constant state of fear; which is opposed to reality creating a constant state of fear, like having been raised into a world where “mutually assured destruction” constituted a political and military strategy.   Paranoid, on the other hand, is a state of being suspicious, sometimes with delusions of grandeur, which very well might be caused by reality.  Following the above example, the reality that nearly an hour before being totally annihilated by Soviet missiles our early warning systems would allow us to launch missiles, which would in turn obliterate the Eastern Hemisphere, might cause a generation to be paranoid; however, believing that it puts one (or one’s side) in a position of power, was a delusion of grandeur.

Enough with all the heady verbiage!  The birth of a word is a happy time.  It has so much in front of it.  These paltry parts only breathed life into the word.  It is the feelings and thoughts that give it meaning.  I for one have too many of those and not enough words, so a new one is welcome once and a while.  I try to occupy the space between desire and guilt, between how I desire to fill my restaurant with people even if I don’t like them, how I earn a nice living on pork yet fear pig farms, how I relish foie gras and abhor what happens to that poor goose, and how I drink Patron but can’t afford it.  For these things and more, I am epicuranoid.

One comment

  1. Great blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also

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