Top 10 Foodie Words We Hate: Starting With Foodie, Part 2
A few months ago we went off on the Top 10 Foodie Words We Hate, a post that generated a lot of feedback, for which we are grateful. It also, as you might expect, generated a lot of other words that are happily vilified by many of us who spend far more time, sadly, writing about baguettes with foie gras butter than actually eating them. A follow-up post seemed necessary. Because while it is perfectly true that this whole procedure is just as suspect (bourgeois guilt! elitist prescriptivism!) as many of the words in question, it's still kind of fun. Turn the page for the next 10 words on the list.
1. Gourmet: Unless you're Ruth Reichl, this word seems to have quite lost its meaning. (And maybe even if you are.) The term -- derived from the Middle French, an alteration of gromet, a servant or wine taster -- used to indicate a person who was an excellent judge of food and drink, but lately you can find it almost anywhere, on packages of otherwise nameless food at truck stops, in grocery stores describing micro-departments haphazardly stationed between rows of soup cans and vinegar bottles. True, Condé Nast did trademark the term, but I don't know how much good that did anyone.
2. Decadent: If you are writing about the works of Oscar Wilde, using this adjective makes sense. Not only can you use it, you can even capitalize it. But if you're writing about a piece of chocolate cake, then maybe you need to get out more, ideally in West Hollywood. Desserts can be ornate and elaborate, over-thought and excessive, and they can certainly (perhaps even by definition) be self-indulgent, but unless you've been working in pâtisserie-and-set-design for Sofia Coppola, maybe pick a different word. While we're on the subject, sinful, which also seems to be used an awful lot to describe chocolate desserts, seems equally overwrought. If there are sins involved in the making or consumption of Valrhona, they're likely to have been committed by a questionable pastry chef.
3. Food porn: Food is not pornography, and to equate the two does a disservice to both, if such a thing is possible in the case of the latter. Pictures of beautiful food are pictures of beautiful food, no matter how erotic you make them. Okay, sure, you can arrange your carrots and Santa Rosa plums in such a way as to have them resemble actual pornography, but if you do stuff like this for fun, maybe you're in the wrong business. Exploit your food in different ways maybe. Like by eating it.
4. Succulent: There's no getting around the fact that, when you're trying to describe nicely cooked food, you quickly run out of good adjectives. You get tired of using the same handful, and they soon become redundant anyway. How many times can you use the word earthy to describe a good baguette or a pan of sautéed morels? But some adjectives just seem wrong, out of place, incommensurate with any plate of food. Succulent is one of them. Maybe if you're describing desert plants, but not, please, a dish of osso bucco, regardless of its moisture content.
5. Garden-fresh: We got a lot of comments and emails about this one, and rightly so. If one is describing a plate of asparagus or Bloomsdale spinach, one hopes that it is indeed fresh and, one would assume, from a garden. That it would be fresh from the actual garden seems not only obvious but repetitive and, well, downright idiotic. Where else would it be fresh from? The back of a produce truck? Even a market stall is at one or two removes from the field. The degree of freshness is directly proportional to the garden, and so it seems unnecessary to qualify it. Kind of like oven-hot cookies, which, come to think of it, people use too. Unless you bake your cookies on the hood of your car, just think of something else.