Artisan, detox, superfood: an A-Z of food nonsense

Retailers, restaurateurs and food producers will stop at nothing to sell us stuff we don’t really need at prices we can’t really afford. One of the first victims of this onslaught is language

From left, D is for detox, M is for mouthwatering, P is for pulled pork, S is for superfood

From left, D is for detox, M is for mouthwatering, P is for pulled pork, S is for superfood

 

Artisan: For many hundreds of years this little word ploughed a lonely furrow; it meant a person or group of people who made high-quality or unique products in small amounts, ideally by hand. In recent years big-brand manufacturers have cottoned on the fact that artisan can mean whatever they say it means, which is why it can be found attached to pizzas, crisps and all manner of things that are – however lovely – not remotely artisan.

 

Baked: Some food manufacturers have turned their noses up at fry-days. One company tells us that its “baked” crisps are made with 70 per cent less fat than regular crisps. But does that mean they are much better for you? Not necessarily. A bag of these crisps has just 27 calories fewer than a bag of regular ones, and, while they have a lot less fat, they have nearly three times the sugar.

 

Country-style: What country? What style? These are the questions you should be asking if you see this on any packaging.

 

Detox: There is no such thing as a detox diet. There are no foods that will help you detox. And there are no juices that will cleanse you. Detox diets are as real as pixie dust. You have organs that look after the detoxing side of things. And if you don’t believe us, believe the British Dietetic Association, which has called the whole notion of a detox diet “a load of nonsense”.

 

Eatery: Please don’t call the place where you serve food an eatery. It can be a pub that serves food, a restaurant or a cafe. Or a canteen. We’ll even go with diner, but please don’t call it an eatery. We really don’t need reminding that we are supposed to eat the food in this place that is serving us food.

 

Farmer’s market: A farmer’s market should be a market where farmers come to sell their products. And because consumers then buy directly from the farmers, the retail middlemen who ramp up the prices are cut out of the picture, making everything dirt cheap. If only. In our experience, farmers at farmer’s markets are as rare as hens’ teeth . And the prices are ridiculous. And speaking of ridiculous F words, what’s a foodie?

 

Gourmet: What makes your popcorn/crisps/bread sticks/block of lard gourmet all of a sudden? Absolutely nothing.

 

Home-made: We have a couple of issues with “home-made”. First, we really, really doubt that anything we have ever seen in a shop or in a restaurant carrying a home-made label was actually made in someone’s home. But even if it was, so what? Home-made is not really a synonym for good, is it? Unless we have been in your home and know for sure you don’t live with 57 cats who pee freely all over your food preparation areas, we would not be entirely happy to learn that what we’re eating was made there. We have also seen the word “house-made” creeping on to menus, as in “house-made” sausage rolls. Sausage rolls made in-house. As if cooking food from scratch in a restaurant was something to boast about.

 

Improved recipe: Why, what was wrong with your last recipe? And who has declared it improved? Was there an independent panel of consumers gathered to try the before and after versions? Was there an X Factor-style vote? Try as we might, we can’t think of a single occasion when a new and improved recipe was actually an improvement on what came before.

 

Jamón: That’s just ham in your sambo, love.

 

Kale crisps: Don’t get us wrong, we like kale and it has its place. But its place is in colcannon or, at a pinch, tossed in butter and garlic. It does not have any business being disguised as crisps.

 

Local: We love to buy local produce and to eat local food, but does local mean within 20km of where you are standing or 200km? Or 2,000km? Answer: None of the above. “Local”, when you see it on any packaging or menu, has absolutely no legal definition and can mean whatever the person putting it there wants it to mean.

 

Mouth-watering: Are you a dog? Do you like drool? Do you like things that make you drool? We’re hoping the answer to all these questions is no. And if you must use “mouth-watering”, can you please just use it to describe things that are, beyond any shadow of a doubt, delicious?

 

Nom. Nom. Nom: Twitter is to blame for this word, we’re pretty sure. And it should hang its head in shame. This word is probably acceptable if uttered by a single-digit child, but there is no reason in the world why any adult should ever say, type or tweet this word unless – as on this occasion – it is to give out about it.

 

Orgasmic: We have no problem with this word when used in another context, but to describe food? Please. Food is not orgasmic and it would be awkward and maybe even a bit messy if it were.

 

Pulled pork: Five years ago this was not a thing. Now everyone is on the pull. It is a fad, and we’re pretty sure it will be replaced by the next big thing before this year is out. The same could be said for Paleo.

 

Quinoa: Don’t know how to pronounce it and don’t particularly want to eat it.

 

Rustic: Sigh. Unless, of course, it’s followed by stone. That’s a nice restaurant.

 

Superfood: Goji berries, chia seeds, blueberries, kelp, oysters, green tea. It’s mad how all the so-called superfoods cost so much, isn’t it? Do you know what’s great for you? Onions. And porridge oats. And apples. They’re as super as any superfood but they cost a fraction of the price.

 

Tapas: Can there be any more overused word in the restaurant lexicon than “tapas”? A decade ago, they used to be small dishes served in Spanish restaurants (sometimes, if you were in Spain, you might even get them for nothing). And it was great. Now restaurants serving food from all over the world think they can get away with serving small portions at high prices once they call them tapas.

 

Unsalted: There are few words that make our hearts sink like “unsalted” – although to be fair to the word, while it might make the heart sink it might also keep it beating for that little bit longer. But things that usually have salt – peanuts, butter, peanut butter – never taste as good when the white stuff is taken out of them, do they?

 

Vegan: While we admire anybody who is so committed to an ideology that they will make such heavy sacrifices in both their food and fashion choices, their world is just a little too miserable for Pricewatch’s liking.

 

Wholesome: This is up there with “natural” as one of the most misused words to describe food.

 

X: No, we can’t think of an X word either.

 

Yummy: See Nom.

 

Zesty: Zest is grand, when used alongside lemon or lime, but there is a fake jollity to zesty that is most unappealing.

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