Montezuma’s Revenge

Have you used this nickname for traveler’s diarrhea while in Mexico? Is it an unacceptable term these days of political correctness? I don’t know, but I love words. I love finding connections between languages. I love how diverse cultures describe things in different ways, with different expressions.

My recent attack of “episootis” caused me to think about these descriptions of a hated malady. Maybe you’ve heard your grandma say she had the episutis. I tried to look it up but was uncertain of the spelling. I came across epizootic which was used to describe a disease in animals that seemed to cause similar symptoms in humans.

But the other day while visiting my Mexican friend in her kitchen, I heard another possibility. She cooked tamales and described her recipe. “I added a little epazote. Never, ever add too much! It will upset your stomach.” Maybe that Mexican herb is the root of the word, epazutis, to describe that awful illness. But the best spelling I’ve found is I-M-M-O-D-I-U-M!

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