E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
These words tell a tale; both mean food in general. The Italians and Asiatics eat little animal food, and with them the word bread stands for food; so also with the poor, whose chief diet it is; but the English consume meat very plentifully, and this word, which simply means food, almost exclusively implies animal food. In the banquet given to Josephs brethren, the viceroy commanded the servants to set on bread (Genesis xliii. 31). In Psalm civ. 27 it is said of fishes, creeping things, and crocodiles, that God giveth them their meat in due season.
To carry off meat from the gravesi.e. to be poor as a church mouse. The Greeks and Romans used to make feasts at certain seasons, when the dead were supposed to return to their graves. In these feasts the fragments were left on the tombs for the use of the ghosts.