Sigh. More Food Words We're Not Supposed to Use.

Categories: Talking Points
Taken from this week's review.
Chow/Chowhound have just posted their list of the 78 most annoying words and phrases used in a restaurant review, which includes "tucking into," "organic," and "unctuous." Add the list to a growing genre that includes LA Weekly's funny two lists of "Foodie Words We Hate," as well as similar posts on Serious Eats, Foodista, and Grub Street, among many others.

As someone who writes quite a few restaurant reviews every month, I've scanned these lists to put myself on cliché alert. But you know what? I'm done reading them. Sure, the word "eatery" has me clawing the air, and when I read "swoon" I want to slap the writer back awake. But those are my own prejudices.

Words like "unctuous" have a proper definition -- Merriam-Webster's says I can keep using it to describe the quality of a rich sauce or a seared slice of foie gras. Same with the much-derided "house-made," which is useful when describing something readers would otherwise assume is made in a factory, such as ketchup or hot dogs. Sure, a word like "sustainable" is largely meaningless, but when you use it in the right context -- say, "sustainability-minded" -- you can convey both how much thought chefs put into finding ingredients and how much they like to talk up the effort.

How a food word is used matters more than how often it's used. So leave me "piquant" and "cloyingly sweet," you listicle-crafting foodies. You keep banning words and soon all I'll be left with is "sweet," "sour," "salty," and "bitter." Worse yet, I might end up writing like this guy (pardon the video quality):

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
Follow me at @JonKauffman.

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest

Hungarian? Seriously? Describing a national food culture by calling it by its name is verboten? That is silly.

Kristin P.
Kristin P.

I'd like to know what restaurant reviewer uses the words "yummers" and "yummilicious" in his/her review.  Pretty sure Rachel Ray hasn't broken into the reviewers circuit yet...

Luna Raven
Luna Raven

Cloying Sweet is an apt description that is perfectly acceptable for something that is. And you know what? The same people who are proclaiming these words annoying were tossing them around the last few years with grievous nonchalance.


Seriously. You know what's more annoying than those words? People who think that writing can be improved by consulting a list. Oh, the irony of people falling over themselves to write trending content about how writing is unoriginal.

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.