Foodie Words That Must Be Banished Now

Food Nation

Just as various foods come in and out of style, so, too, do the words that describe them. In 2011, the word "taquito" was added to the Oxford English dictionary and "chimichurri" was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. In 2012, the online dictionary added "frankenfish," "locavore" and "food desert," while 2013 saw "cake pops," "street food" and "flexitarian."

As I'm typing these words, little red lines are appearing beneath them. Apparently my computer hasn't yet caught on.

Some words, such as the specific names for ethnic foods (bánh mì was recently added), should definitely be a recognized part of the English language. Other words, like "locavore," make my skin crawl.

Here is some more food-related jargon that needs to go the way of pamphagous, ­krioboly, lardlet and bromography.

any -arian other than vegetarian

flexitarian — a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish

lacto-ovo vegetarian — a person who eats vegetables, eggs, and dairy products but who does not eat meat

pescatarian — a person who does not eat meat but does eat fish

If you refer to yourself as any of these things, you're a pretentious ass. A flexitarian is an omnivore, which is most of the population, so there's really no point in using a label. A lacto-ovo vegetarian is a vegetarian. Vegetarians, by definition, eat eggs and milk. If you don't, you're a vegan. A pescatarian is not a thing. You can eat fish but no red meat or poultry, so just explain it like that without making up a stupid word for it. Stop trying to make pescatarian happen. It's not going to happen.

artisanal — (of a product, especially food or drink) made in a traditional or non-mechanized way

This word lost all meaning when Domino's created "artisan" pizza with a box supposedly signed by the person who made it. There's even a blog devoted to items that purport to be "artisanal" but clearly aren't.

chef-driven — there is no established definition for this word

Is it really necessary to describe a restaurant as "chef-driven"? Who else is going to be driving it? The busboy?

farm-to-table/farm-to-fork — used to refer to the various processes in the food chain from agricultural production to consumption

Unless you were one of those lucky (?) people who got to taste the stem-cell burger, chances are your food all originated on a farm at some point (or in the forest, ocean, etc.). Farm-to-table and farm-to-fork are intended to mean (mostly) local and (when possible) organic, so just say that. But also make sure that when you call something organic, it actually is organic.

foodie — a person with a particular interest in food; a gourmet

"I'm a foodie," said everyone who's ever eaten food and liked it.

anything -gasm

mouth-gasm —  to experience an orgasmic-like reaction to the tasting of food

pork-gasm —  to experience an orgasmic-like reaction from eating pork

chocolate-gasm —  to experience an orgasmic-like reaction to chocolate

Unless you're pulling a When Harry Met Sally and going full head-back, moaning, banging on the table, I sincerely doubt it was a -gasm.

haute — fashionable, high-class

I bet you think you sound pretty cultured and, well, haute, when you use the word haute, don't you?

in-house — existing, originating, or carried on within a group or organization or its facilities

By that definition, a lot of what McDonald's makes is "in-house." Any restaurant that feels the need to say or write "in-house" should just expect that its customers and prospective customers expect it to prepare a lot of things "in-house."

locavore — a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food

"Locavore" is the pretentious (and unnecessary) word for "I like to eat local meat and produce when I can."

mixologist — a person who is skilled at mixing cocktails and other drinks

Even people who are, ostensibly, mixologists hate this word. They're bartenders. Some are just better than others.

molecular gastronomy — the application of scientific principles to the understanding and development of food preparation

Can we just say the chef uses a lot of liquid nitrogen and call it a day?

street food — prepared or cooked food sold by vendors in a street or other public location for immediate consumption

Unless you're eating it on the street, it's not street food. Most street food here in Houston is served at a table in a restaurant. Let's call it what it is.

superfood — a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being

Scientists and nutritionists are constantly going back and forth about what is and isn't a superfood. And companies have capitalized on the declaration of various things as superfood by juicing them, bottling them and adding a ton of sugar. Not so super anymore.

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Kaitlin Steinberg