The Tampa Tribune’s food writer since 2005, Jeff Houck covers the way people live through their food. He also hosts the Table Conversations food podcast and believes that everything crunchy is good.
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Hey Foodies! Here’s A Sketchy One You Can Take To The Dive Bar [Food Words We Love To Hate]
Posted Aug 12, 2012 by Jeff Houck
Updated Aug 12, 2012 at 03:33 PM
My Stew column in today’s Baylife section of the Tampa Tribune is a laundry list rant of sorts of the most abused and misused words in the culinary spectrum:
OK, the words aren’t the problem. The humans who use them are the true offenders.
I’ve written before about how the word “artisan” went from meaningful to bland in one swift Domino’s Pizza application.
But there are plenty where that came from.
Like “deconstructed.” As in a “deconstructed BLT” that has bacon, lettuce and tomato on a plate. To me, it’s just another way of saying, “We’re too lazy to assemble this.”
I don’t want my food in pieces. You’re the professional. I want you to show me how it all should blend. If I buy a car, I want all the pieces already on the car. Be a chef. Do the work.
Or “fusion.” One restaurant in Tampa recently described its cuisine as “rustic American fusion.” I have no idea what that means other than, “Our menu has a lot of stuff on it and we needed a fancy word to charge more.”
I know, fusion describes when a merging of two seemingly opposite styles of cooking takes place. I get it. It’s the culinary version of irony.
But unless you’re eating raw ingredients, all recipes are fused from a technical standpoint. Peanut butter and jelly qualifies as fusion. Unless it’s deconstructed. Then it’s not.
Calling someone a “foodie” should be considered an insult of such magnitude that the only way to settle it would be pistols at sunrise. Each time someone uses it to describe me, I wince the way I do when a fork scrapes too hard against a plate.
I asked readers to e-mail me their most pillowy decadent and lusciously approachable words so that we could all hate them together.
Michael Switzer of Tampa took me up on the offer:
Excellent column, and I have passed it along to Yelp in its local talk section, where I have previously suggested more careful use of the term “sketchy” referring to a restaurant and “dive” applied to a bar. BTW
“mouth feel” evokes nightmares of dental surgery and pain-killers wearing off. And when someone offers me an app, I have to ask what smartphone software they are suggesting I start the meal with.
Excellent call, Michael. App makes me a bit stabby as well.