E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
An allowance of victuals over and above bread and wine. Anthony du Pinet, in his translation of Pliny, applies the term over and over again to figs and beans. The word originally comes from the peoples piety in giving to poor mendicants food for their subsistence. (Probably connected with pietas. Monkish Latin, pietancia; Spanish, pitar, to distribute a dole of food; pitancero, one who distributes the dole, or a begging friar who subsists by charity.)