A person pouring tea out of a teapot
The Ancient History Behind Why We Call Food 'Piping Hot'
By Nick Johnson
Several words have come to be associated with hot or spicy food, including red-hot, scorching, and even scalding, but these descriptions are not always appetizing. However, calling a plate of food ‘piping hot’ immediately conjures images of a steamy supper, and the phrase has been perfectly describing meals for hundreds of years.
‘Piping hot’ first appeared in Geoffrey Chaucer's 1390 novel “The Miller's Tale,” as he wrote, “Her sent her sweetened wine, mead, and spiced ale. And waffles, piping hot out of the fire.” ‘Piping hot’ was also a colloquial phrase inspired by steam that billows from the spout of a teapot, as the ancient water-boiling tool’s whistling noise is similar to the sound of musical pipes.
Some have also speculated that ‘piping hot’ actually came from Scotland, where certain occasions called for lavish meals set against a backdrop of bagpipe music. The phrase could also be linked to maritime custom, as a boatswain will often need to use their signature whistle, or boatswain's call, to assemble the ship's seamen for meals.