What a short word ort is, like a fragment of a word left behind after some snorting, logophagic ogre has sloppily eaten all the other letters. It sounds like a line from a Swedish Chef script as he makes a sport of destorying the kitchen.
And that wouldn’t be far off. Ort is a food word, or rather a dining word. You wouldn’t order orts with your dinner, but you’d sure get them.
Your body is supported by food. And after you’ve supped, what do you leave behind? Why, orts, of course!
Orts are the crumbs, bits, fragments, and scraps of food left behind on and around your plate, on your shirt, on your pants, on the floor, and if you’re a particularly sloppy eater, on the people sitting around you.
In Infinite Jest students at the Enfield Tennis Academy get one night a year — Interdependence Day — to forget their exercise and practice regimens and their healthful diets and to gather together and pig out on sweets. Here, David Foster Wallace describes the scene as the evening winds down:
By this time, the E.T.A.s are eating more slowly, playing in that idle post-prandial way with the orts on their plates, and people’s hats are making some people’s heads itch, and plus everybody’s sugar-crashing a bit . . . (p. 578)