I came across this in an Alexander McCall Smith audiobook. German has all sorts of specific words for attitudes and emotions. He cites this as a newly-coined term. Literally, “meal envy”, it refers to the regret and envy one experiences in a restaurant when the server passes by, delivering a gorgeous, wonderfully aromatic plate of something one had considered but decided against, to another table. IMO, it deserves to become as commonly used in English as are Schadenfreude or Weltanschauung.
But why though? There are already real terms for this. Futterheid and Essensneid.
German is a beautiful language, to me. They have words and (hilarious) compound nouns that there are no English equivalents.
My first reaction to the word was that it was describing the envy a home baker feels when another home baker has his or her own flour mill.
Maybe “meal” is more precise, in a restaurant setting, than “food” or “eating”?
Ooh, food envy is oh so real. My travel companion and I often express food envy. We’ll openly admit it to get it out in the open. It’s so strong an experience for us that it even occurs when ordering the same dish. When they both come out, we’ll go:
Me: Ooh, I have food envy. I like how well grilled your chicken is with all that charring.
Her: I have food envy too! Your chicken is all plump and it’s bigger.
Me: Do you want to trade?
Her: Nah. Do you want a piece of mine?
No matter how good our own plates are, we will still experience food envy for some component of the other person’s meal.
Love this. Experience it all the time.
Now, what’s the word for “I’m going to order this but I’ll regret it immediately and want the other thing I was going to order for the rest of the meal”?