With all the students around, Boston's Allston Village is chock-full of reasonably-priced restaurants: Burmese (with a separate vegetarian menu), vegan Vietnamese, vegan pizza, Egyptian falafel, Indian Chinese; plus old standbys like Tex-Mex, Korean-Japanese and checked-tablecloth Chianti-in-a-basket red-sauce Italian.
One of last year's new additions was Zaps, Polish street food. A zapiekanka is a baguette sliced in half lengthwise, topped with shredded cheddar and mushrooms, melted / toasted, and finished off with ketchup. It's more interesting tasting than that might sound.
The name seems straightforward. zapiekać is the imperfective of zapiec 'to bake'. zapiekany is the passive participle; add the fairly productive -k(a) for resultative nouns and it's 'something baked'. There are, of course, various other forms of zapiekać in the only Polish cookbook I have. The za- prefix is a Slavic preposition with base meaning something like 'beyond'. piec is cognate with Russian печь 'oven' and so with PIE *pekʷ 'cook', whence also Greek πέσσω 'ripen; cook' and so peptic.
After we went there this weekend, I had another look around online and only then noticed that zapiekanka also means 'casserole'. There is a fairly clean split in English language sources between the two senses:
Not that this is all that surprising; both fit the base meaning perfectly. But now I am wondering whether there is a continuous semantic space (and what else is in it) and just how old this particular street food is. Hence this very short post. I would welcome informed comments.