Medical staff are known to name conditions after meals or drinks as a shorthand way of identifying them easily during discussions about their needs.
Gastrointestinal tumours resembling "mushrooms" or "cauliflower florets" and a skin infection looking like "spaghetti and meatball" are among the least stomach-churning comparisons.
Dr Ritu Lakhtakia of the Sultan Qaboos University in Oman believes she has found the origin of the phrases.
She wrote in the journal Medical Humanities: "A part of this curious tradition may owe its origins to practising physicians and researchers catching up on their meals in clinical side rooms or operating theatre offices, or with an inevitably cold platter eaten with eyes glued to a microscope.
"It is a wonder that, in the midst of the smells and sights of human affliction, a physician has the stomach to think of food at all."