A Sea of Words: "One who offers imaginary food or illusory benefits. Barmecide was the family name of the princes ruling at Baghdad in the 8th century. In The Arabian Nights a story is told of a prince who put a succession of empty dishes before a beggar, pretending they contained a delicious meal—a fiction the beggar humorously accepted." (101)
"'A barmecide feast, sir, I am afraid,' said Jack.
"'Not at all, sir,' said Martin. 'There is nothing I prefer to ...' He hesitated, trying to find a name for salt beef, eighteen months in the cask, partly de-salted, cut up very small and fried with crushed ship's biscuits and a great deal of pepper: '... to a fricassee.'" --Patrick O'Brian, The Nutmeg of Consolation, 262