Yummy. Yum. Yum-yum. Everyone seems to agree that this is an onomatopoeia, a word meant to imitate the sound of lips smacked in delight at a delicious taste. It was first recorded in 19th century, used commonly as baby-talk and them migrating to the (not so) grown up speech. Nami nami in Finnish, miam miam in French, ham ham in Turkish and, astonishingly, lecker lecker in German. The annoying modern nom-nom has its origin in the sounds made by the Sesame Street character Cookie Monster when eating cookies.
I’m not a huge fan of the expression. Making sounds while you eat is rude, I was brought up to believe, and baby-speak in any capacity (talking to babies included) I find abhorrent.
Yum – onomato-pay yourself if you want to, but I firmly believe the word comes from tom yum, the tastiest soup in the world. Tom yum goong is the most common type, with yum plus shrimp; tom yum nam khon is the creamy version and I have cooked tom yum hoi (which I called it thus myself, painfully aware that the Thai word for clam is also a very rude slang expression) or better known tom yum po taek: seafood tom yum.
I don’t think this is in any way orthodox. I’ve concocted the recipe from an extensive search through various, more and less authentic-looking sources. I’m not Thai and haven’t even been to Thailand, blah, blah, blah. But so what? I cook chicken soup and I’m not Jewish, and we all cook tremendous amounts of pasta all the time, very badly. Food is egalitarian and only food fascists think otherwise.