Thirty overused, irritating and just plain awful food words and phrases that make our mouth hurt

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There are words, cliches and phrases that we, as food writers, use far too often, and while we're all probably guilty of making your nostrils flare when we use some of the very same vocabulary that we're now going to criticize, it's when other food writers use these annoying and overused words and phrases that we cringe. You all, no doubt, have plenty of jargon to add to the list of irritants.

But first, here's ours.

Nom, nom nom, or nom nom nom

If you have even the slightest grasp of the English language, there is absolutely no reason that you should ever, under any circumstances, use the word "nom" -- unless you also meow for your dinner.

Yum, yummy, yum-O, yummers, yumbolicious, or any other variation of yum
Yuck. Just yuck.

Veggie
This is a personal pet peeve, which I think has something to do with the laziness of abbreviating perfectly fine words that simply don't require it. Aside from that, it sounds so babyish.

Artisanal
It's just so...precious.

Anything grilled, roasted, braised, broiled, fried or done "to perfection."
So trite, so overused, so meaningless.

Mouthwatering
Reminds me of drool, which is what a lot of us do while we sleep but should never do while we eat.

Mouthfeel
If you're going to describe the texture of food, then please, for the love of God, don't use the word "mouthfeel." It's creepy.

Orgasmic
When was the last time that you put food in your mouth -- real food -- and climaxed? I'm okay with "mouthgasm," but leave "orgasmic" out of the act.

Homemade
We all use it, including me, but here's the thing: Just because something is homemade, or housemade, or, for that matter, hand-crafted, doesn't mean that it's good, but whenever we write "homemade" or see the word on a menu, we assume that because it's made in-house, it can't be bad. Who are we kidding? And for the record, if the guy in the kitchen made it at home, I'm not altogether sure I want it.

Fork-tender
Gag me with a spoon.



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34 comments
Geraldine
Geraldine

Words are ambiguous. And only a reader, I think so, can deem a food word as 'irritating' and 'awful' based on how it was used in a sentence or essay.And it's subjective. Those words are never irritating nor awful for me unless I see how they are used in a sentence; a sentence or paragraph and not as commentary.

Mike Knight
Mike Knight

How is the word FOODIE not on this list. The term sounds like you pay membership dues to a Weight Watchers program

FrenchPressMemo
FrenchPressMemo

Epicurean and culinary always get me - particularly when people refer to themselves as that. 

Dan S
Dan S

Another one I hate is Greek-strained.  WTF is that about?  Sounds nasty on so many different levels.   Thank you for putting this list together. I thought I was the only one that hated "nosh", "foodie", "nom" and "yum."  No one over the age of 10 should say anything is "yummy" and sure as hell shouldn't say "yummers."

Renetta Kaye
Renetta Kaye

Wow! Rant much? Reading that was more painful than any of those terms/words and there are a few that make my ears hurt.Relax. Enjoy (or not) the meal. If you don't like what people say about food, I'd suggest not reading food related articles.

Whew...

Phen375
Phen375

Snappy using "Printgasm" on their banner....

Sassafrass
Sassafrass

My persona pet peeve is when people describe food as "sexy." No. Unless you're slathering it all over your rock hard abs and letting me lick it off, it's not sexy. 

highwaymiles
highwaymiles

'Za. I hate 'za. How hard is it to say pizza? And mashers. And people who drop the vowels off the end of Italian food names. That sounds so douchey.

food writer
food writer

You haven't left much for us food, recipe and menu writers who need to fashion just a few words to communicate the intricacies of the dining experience - "eat this, it is good" just ain't gonna cut it...

David Costantino
David Costantino

Upscale - why does every place have to claim they are?  Basically, it really just means you wind up paying way too much for what you get, and more importantly, does that mean this is now considered normal?  It's like grade inflation in college; not everyone can get an A or a B, just like not every restaurant should charge $18 for a plate of spaghetti, much as they may try.  Not every place needs to cater to rich people, especially in these times.  Dial it down and get more customers in the door.  Funny how that works.

Cynthia Negron
Cynthia Negron

God, this rant is reminiscent of an English Grad student's pissy take on modern slang. Get over it... onomatopoeia like nom and yum and nosh are awesome, and just because you're not precious doesn't mean my words can't be. I like saying veggies and artisanal, when merited. 

 I'll agree with you on some of the more useless terms like "tasty", "to perfection" and the over-use of "housemade". Fucking Good Times and their hand-cut fries. Seriously? They don't taste any better than if they're machine cut. However, a nice housemade caesar dressing can be worth the extra effort on the kitchen's part. 

Charlietuna
Charlietuna

what about "tucked into," as in "I tucked into this tasty, crispy, fork-tender dish?"

Jessehall
Jessehall

This is hilarious! Great post Lori 

Alex
Alex

"Sammie" and "Sammich" both give me brain-hives.

pastajohn
pastajohn

I just saw "selmelier" on the eattv.com FB page describing an expert on the ins and outs of salt. What's next? Certified Master Selmelier?

Kimberly
Kimberly

"Farm to Table" is a personal pet peeve of mine...it's as if the person/establishment is trying to market something that should be a standard procedure. Honestly, is the alternative "Monsanto to Table" or "Processing Plant to Table" or "Chemistry Lab to Table?"

Carly
Carly

Food porn!

Also:SpikedStuddedRibbonedQuivering (to describe poached eggs, please leave this word to the trashy romance novels)Depth of flavorsScratchmade/made from scratch

Agree on sammie or any nickname for sandwich unless it's a regional term, like hoagie.

GFTW
GFTW

vegan*-free

Mantonat
Mantonat

To homemade, add hand- anything. I've recently seen signs for hand-brewed coffee (which doesn't even make sense) and hand-spun frozen custard (thanks to Good Times).

Jennifoodie
Jennifoodie

Ugh. I agree about umami. I remember not so long ago in a galaxy right effin here when food reviews pimped this word out like they were banking off of it. Take off the ho heels and put the low heels back on, says me.

Sean Kenyon
Sean Kenyon

ummm...foodie is on the list Mike...

Dan S
Dan S

omg forgot about "za."  

Mantonat
Mantonat

I think anyone who writes for a living or is concerned with written communication is also sensitive to the overuse of jargon or catch phrases. If you invented "nom nom," then please step forward and take credit. For the million Yelpers or casual food bloggers, stop already. Sometimes it's fun to come up with new and clever ways to say things, but most often clear, concise, descriptive language is the best way to engage a reader.

Geraldine
Geraldine

Let us just say that we are expanding our vocabulary. :)

Wade Sears
Wade Sears

the truth is yes, most of your food product that is packaged is processing plant to table.unless you like me only eat fresh vegetable and meats - grown and/or hunted by you, then your alternatives are the correct answer to your own question.

Wade Sears
Wade Sears

the term is Japanese for savory, which was not considered a part of the traditional taste groups. the japanese did research into the sense of taste and found this one to be unnamed but experienced. so yes the word was annoying, but the fact remains it was an unnamed part of the taste experience and the research team that proved it got to name it. once it was translated, we went to using that word more commonly.

but almost all of the words used in the hospitality industry are marketing and meaningless. judging by the way bars,pubs and restaurants think of themselves now, to go by employment ads, McDonald's is a casual dining place and appleby's low priced fine dining.

Cookie Monster
Cookie Monster

Hi, I'm Cookie Monster.  I invented the phrase "Om nom nom nom."  If you like to eat cookies, you should use the phrase, too.

Barrfly2
Barrfly2

Water Sommeliers....yes, they are real.

Kimberly
Kimberly

Agreed. It's sad but true.

Mantonat
Mantonat

I like umami, too, when it is used properly. The problem is that it is not easy to define and so most people don't know when they are experiencing it. If you want to experience pure umami with no distractions, pick up some Accent at a grocery store and sprinkle some on your tongue. It's just pure MSG and it definitely has a flavor that cannot be described as anything but umami. The closest approximation would be meaty, but in the absence of all the other flavors we normally associate with meat. (White veal stock comes close). I don't think savory really captures it either because many herbs are considered savory but do not have umami.

If you are worried about ingesting "industrial chemicals" like MSG, consider that it was first discovered as solidified crystals clinging to the edge of vats of kombu seaweed. MSG is just the sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is the naturally occuring chemical that gives many foods umami. Without glutamic acid, food really can't be said to have umami. Foods high in glutamic acid: parmesan cheese, soy sauce, tomatoes, and yeast-based condiments like Marmite.Maggi seasoning is a great source of umami for vegetarians or those who don't like the idea of MSG.

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