Food

Make It Stop

Thursday, September 13, 2012    

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Everyone who writes about food has certain words and phrases that they hate. New York Magazine critic Adam Platt lists "toothsome" and "cornucopia" on his list of forbidden clunkers and New York deputy editor John Gluck says "enrobed" makes him think of Hugh Hefner - a decidedly unsavoury thought. The time has come to publicly shame these terrible words and constructions and eliminate them from food writing forever. We've taken note!!

Foodie: What does this term mean exactly? That one likes to eat, that one cooks a lot, that one knows a lot of esoteric things about culinary history, that one watches Top Chef? Whereas "gourmet" has, justly or not, a slightly elitist or effete connotation, "foodie" seems to be used mostly to describe the amateur, the home cook, those with passion (another word that should be banned from use unless you're a romance novelist or a Days of our Lives writer) about food. Which would be a large percentage of the world. Find a better word. Preferably one that sounds like it wasn't coined by a kindergarten teacher.

Addictive: Food isn't a drug, despite what Crack Pie might make you think. Let's please stop calling things "addictive" or "habit-forming" when what we really mean is "delicious."

Artisan: It lost its meaning related to food the second Domino's co-opted it.

Approachable: As in, "the most approachable dish on the menu." When did food become so standoffish?

Bill of Fare: Let's just say menu, shall we?

Boasts: While we're on the subject of menus, why do they always have to "boast" items? All they actually do is "display" them.

Cooked to Perfection: Grub San Fran's Jay Barmann: "We should all know better than to use this."

Cornucopia: Only if you're writing about Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving. And even then, don't.

Decadent: It's the word fat people use to rationalise eating oversize desserts.

Delectable: It sounds like a word a James Bond villain would use.

Eatery: Per Grub Philly's Collin Keefe: "It makes restaurants sound like some sort of mechanised chow line."

Enrobe: See Hef ref, above.

Epic: Lord of the Rings is epic; dinner at Per Se is not.

Foodies: The ne plus ultra of words (and concepts) that society needs to forget immediately.

Fusion: It's not "fusion," it's "Asian-Hipster."

Luscious: Sounds like the name of an R&B singer from 1997.

Meltingly Tender: Why is this the only way people can describe a dish's tenderness? (And why is the dish in question almost always braised short ribs?) There are other adverbs out there.

A Miss: As in, the dish was "a miss." What was it even trying to hit?

Nibbles as a Noun: Ditto "bites," "victuals," or even "tipples" if you're talking about drinks.

Nom (or Nom Nom Nom, etc.): Under no circumstances.

Pillowy: Often used to describe gnocchi or ravioli. As Grub Boston's Kara Baskin notes, it sounds porny.

Sammies Instead of Sandwiches: For all the obvious reasons.

Savour: It sounds like something only old people do.

-Tastic: If a meal or restaurant focuses on one thing excessively well, the knee-jerk description is always "pork-tastic," or "carb-tastic," or "fat-tastic." The overused construction is completely hack-tastic.

Toothsome: It's just the worst, and it conjures up images of dentures.

Toque: It refers to the hat that chefs wear, not the actual chef. Let's just avoid the confusion by never using it again, ever.

Unctuous: People use this to describe food that's "rich" in a good way, but the word really means "oily" in a bad way. And, as deputy editor Gluck points out, it sounds vomitous.

Velvety or Silky: Have you ever seen soup? Have you seen silk? The two are not similar, at all. So why does everyone call a great soup "silky smooth" or "velvety soft"? More to the point: How gross would it be to actually eat a spoonful of silk?

Yummy: Just don't.

— Alan Sytsma, newyork.grubstreet.com

Editor's Note

Let's have your feedback: whyten@jamaicaobserver.com

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