I learned a new word this morning: escabechina, meaning ‘slaughter’ or ‘massive damage’. It’s often used metaphorically in a school context, to refer to a test that everybody fails.
What caught my eye (ear?) about this word is that it is clearly derived from the culinary term escabeche, meaning either ‘marinade’ (a sauce for marinating something) or something that has been marinated or pickled. I think of an escabeche as a fish preparation but it can also be used to describe vegetable dishes. The word is Arabic in origin; I suppose that pickling was an important way to preserve foods in the desert prior to refrigeration. However, according to my favorite Spanish etymological dictionary, it didn’t come into Spanish directly, but via Catalan.
This word history rings a bell for me as a speaker of English, since we likewise use the word pickle to refer to a problematic situation (though not a disaster). The words sour and acidic also have negative connotations. Escabechina is thus following a well-trodden semantic pathway from an unpleasant taste to an unpleasant event: the opposite of sweet.