Flavoring the currying of favor
Earlier this morning, probably around 6am or so, I was writing, not an unusual thing. I wrote the phrase “curry favor.” Then, I thought: Maybe it wasn’t curry favor but curry flavor, or maybe it was carry favor, though I was pretty sure my original word choice was right.
So rather than continue writing, which is what I should’ve done, I went to Google…
Many people believe that “to curry favor” originated from the mishearing of curry flavor, which was my error as well. It is in fact based on a mishearing, though not “favor” for “flavor” but “favor” for “favel.”
To start with, curry has nothing to do with the spice. For years, I’ve tried to figure out how the saying has anything to do with Indian food. Alas, I couldn’t find a solution because there was not one to be had. No, curry comes from the old French verb correier or correer, which means prepare or put in order. This became the verb curry, as in to rub down or dress (a horse, ass, etc.) with a comb.
Favel originated from a 1310 French poem-epic-song about a horse-man—Flauvel—who got his name through an acrostic of the Seven Deadly Sins. Clever, right? In the poem, people bow down and humiliate themselves to this horse-man by stroking him, thereby currying Flauvel.
Later, Flauvel became favel became favor.
On that note, I think I’m going to make curry for dinner. It’ll be great.