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Publication Date : 25-08-2013
When it comes to words relating to food, the English language is a 24-hour all-you-can-eat international buffet
Whether your tastes in food words are prandial (relating to a meal) or gastronomic (relating to the art of fine eating), English has just the right word to tickle your tastebuds and please your palate.
After all, why refer to something as just tasty or delicious when you can use succulent, delectable, scrumptious, savoury, or even ambrosial?
And why say your food is healthy when you can use salubrious instead?
If your soup has a sharp taste, it is pungent. If this sharpness is pleasing, it is piquant. If its taste and smell are too strong and unpleasant, however, it becomes acrid.
Seriously, when it comes to food words, there is no such thing as too many cooks spoiling the broth.
Don’t go bananas: relish the fact that the English language is peppered with more of these words than you can stomach!
For example, you know when you’re eating claypot rice, or paella? And there’s this layer of crunchy rice forming a base at the bottom of your pot? Well, that rice has a name: its soccarat.
And no, chanking is not the name of a province in China: it refers to the rejected parts of fruits or nuts, such as seeds, pits, or chewed pieces.
And you know when you go to your local coffeehouse, and they hand you your latte with a little cardboard ring around it? That’s a zarf, or a handle for a coffee cup without a handle (again, how specific!).
Even the act of cutting food has many words associated with it.
To slice food into very thin strips or shreds is to chiffonade it: the term comes from the French meaning “made of rags”.
To julienne is to cut into long thin strips, and to vandyke is to cut zigzags in edges of fruit and vegetables halves, usually as garnish.
And to supreme food has nothing to do with Diana Ross: it means to remove anything extraneous to the meat. Supreming a chicken or fish means removing skin and bones, while supreming an orange involves removing the skin and seeds.
We’ve heard of herbivores (plant eaters), carnivores (meat eaters) and omnivores (eaters of both plants and animals), but I bet not many of us have heard of piscivores (fish eaters), granivores (seed and grain eaters) or plankivores (plankton eaters).
Those terms may not be very mainstream, but I think the most hipster kind of “vore” is a locavore: a person interested in eating food that is locally produced. The word, which was coined by Jessica Prentice of San Francisco, was the word of the year for 2007 in the Oxford American Dictionary.
Other interesting food words: marinate, which is to soak food in a seasoned liquid mixture for a certain length of time, and macerate, which is a similar process applied to fruit, often to soften or break it.
And while masticate may sound similar to a rather suggestive word, it really just means to chew your food.
One of my personal favourite food words, however, has to be abligurition, mostly because of how amazingly specific it is. The word refers to spending wasteful amounts of money on fine foods. The Oxford English Dictionary has classified the term as “obsolete”, however, which is a shame: such a lovely word to describe one of my favourite vices.
I wouldn’t be surprised if after reading this, you feel some borborygmus coming on: no, don’t worry, it is not some kind of mythological monster. It is the technical name for stomach rumbling.
So in a nutshell, I hope this article has whetted your appetite for food words, and you have not been cheesed off from the half-baked puns.