Any words you dislike to use when talking about food ?

My first two that come to mind are , gourmet , and carmelized.

Artisan and deconstructed. Do people still say amazeballs? if so, that too.


Organic fish. They are either wild or farm raised…unless I am missing something. If you feed the farm raised fish organic food, are they organic?


Tbh, I dread reading most current “food writing” these days because so much of it is so ridiculously over- (or just badly) written, and there’s a long list of buzzwords that make one or both of my eyes twitch when they’re (over-) used (and abused), as they almost invariably are these days, in a generic or conclusory way. But off the top of my head, some of the worst offenders are: “natural” and “healthy”, followed closely (and in no particular order) by: “curated”, “artisanal” (and/or “small-batch”), “ethical”, “local”, and “sustainable” (and/or “eco-friendly”).


“Authentic”. Generally meaningless in a food context, except in very limited examples.

And “artisan” - a word being increasinghly used in the UK in very recent years and often replacing perfectly good existing words such as “craft” or, in the case of cheese, “farmhouse”. I presume that, as often, we’ve imported the use from America.


Curious to learn what descriptive words you would prefer. Taking away words that marketing teams spend eons over only to be tossed into the over used pile while the general public is relying on words as a point of reference is a confusing conflict. If we toss those words, they will be replaced…eventually equally over used.

Words are a map. Without a map what reference point for making a choice is left.

In my industry, words not only repeat they set a standard, a musical word map. Over used, you bet! I wouldn’t dare toss a single word.

Words are a tricky subject, Dan. As some here will know, in real life, I am an author. The right choice is vital if the story is to be told in exactly the way I envisage it. Over use is almost impossible to avoid if your writing is inherently repetitive. My field is military history and, as part of that, my website tells the individual stories of nearly 3000 men from my town who died during the First World War. Much as I want these biographies to be genuinely individual, there are only a limited number of ways you can phrase variations on “Fred was killed during an attack. He was charging across No Man’s Land and, like many of his comrades that day, was cut down by machine gun fire. His body was never recovered and identified”. There are, literally, hundreds of men on the website who died in that way and, in essence, probably only about five variations on the theme.

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H, I am aware of your work. On a thread I read many months back I picked up that notation and I believe as an experienced author you can convey my sentiments.

Words that work will be over used. I find that comforting to my eyes and ears, often with a nod and smile not a red pencil.

Misused words are different than over used. That’s a diff kettle of fish!

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There was recently a piece on 60 Minutes all about this. Apparently fish were completely exempt from the FDA “Organic List” - so there is literally no such thing as organic fish. It also went on to say that some alarming % of fish served in the US are falsely advertised.


Well, the problem there is that most writers that so grossly “overuse” trendy buzzwords often don’t actually understand the meaning behind what started out as meaningful “terms of art” and so almost invariably “misuse” them.


That may be due to differences between the US and the UK in the definition or organic. Here, any claim to be organic would need to be supported by accreditation by one of the recognised bodies (mainly, in the UK, the Soil Association). Without that accreditation, any such claim would be in breach of consumer protection legislation.

FWIW, the Soil Association has a detailed brief on the subject. My first link is to their summary. The second to their standards document.

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Because there is another a in caramelized, or because the foods described are so often not actually caramelized? Like ‘caramelized’ onions that may have encountered a bit of maillard reaction but are really just saute’d …


Organic. And with regard to restaurants, hidden gem!


I don’t think I’ve ever seen fish (or any seafood) described as “organic”, but that’s just not dislikeable, but very possibly consumer-fraudulent. (Which doesn’t mean no one ever does it of course…) I wonder if whoever you’ve seen doing it is (probably inappropriately) just conflating “organic” and “wild-caught”?

I don’t know exactly that US law says about use of the word “organic” versus the phrase “certified organic”, so there may be some sort of legal wriggle room there, but no seafood can be labeled “certified organic” seafood , since there are is no such legally defined category (in the US).

This is a very real problem here in the Great Lakes region. Culturally, one of our favorite eating fish is the Yellow Belly Lake Perch. Restaurants that specialize in this fish generally charge $17.99 up to $29.00 a plate dependent on “ambiance” of the restaurant. Fish mongers in my area usually price Lake perch fillets at $18.99 per pound. Any restaurant offering a $9.99 - $11.99 Perch Special is really selling a mimic fish.

Relevant discussion here:

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A “caesar” salad that is missing the anchovy taste.


I was a little dismayed to see dulse flakes, from wild-harvested seaweed, labelled as organic.