A warning: This is a curmudgeonly and cynical rant. Maybe I’m the only one who cares about how words are used around here or being a positioning and messaging guy, I have a lower tolerance for words that are used to either disguise bad things or words that have little to no meaning at all, except to lull the reader with some vague association.
Here’s a short list of what’s bugging me lately, plucked from the menu of a dining establishment near you.
- Fall-off-the-bone tender. Usually, this describes ribs. Most real barbeque doesn’t do this unless it’s a bone-in pork butt that’s been smoking for 14 hours. Certainly not ribs. It’s binary. Either you’ve smoked the ribs just right and they will have a little pull to them, or you’re serving boiled meat that’s been grilled to finish.
- Piled high. This means one thing if you’re talking about Nachos — a pile of unadorned tortilla chips under the top layer of goodies and chips. The best nachos are served flat unless they really are piled high with layers of toppings, and the plate weighs 20 pounds.
- Flavour profile. Do you mean “flavour”? This is one of those useless terms people use to sound smart, like “incentivize” instead of “incent,” or “utilize” instead of “use.”
- Flavourful. Well, duh. Is its size sizable too?
- Unctuous. Unctuous means oily, or greasy. It’s one of those terms you hear people use to describe something that tastes rich or luxurious. They use it because they heard someone else use it. And so on. And so on. Nobody in that chain bothered to look it up. I did.
Merriam-Webster defines it this way:
a: fatty, oily
b: smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
If you know what it really means, it is NOT an appealing food term. It’s a flat-out insult.
- Artisanal. Made by an artisan? Can I see their papers? Doesn’t this mean that someone took care in preparing something, so it’s good? Artisanal muffins. Artisanal pizza. Artisanal hot dogs. It loses meaning.
- “Handmade” or “Hand” anything. Those crappy deep-fried cubes of breakfast potatoes are handmade. Places that have to brag about that shouldn’t need to brag about that.
- “Deconstructed” anything. I don’t pay you to “un-cook.” Please construct my food.
- Superfood. Look in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a nominally more nutritious food than the average!
- Natural. Cyanide. Poison Ivy. Asbestos. Mosquito bites. Mercury. Sulphuric Acid. And your granola. Yippee.
- All-Natural. What does this even mean?
- Harvested. Well, I’m not sitting down to it in the field with a knife and fork. What’s the alternative?
I’m sure there are plenty of others. What are your favourites?