Bards and poets from Shakespeare to INXS have pointed out that words, wielded with force and intent, are weapons sharper than thorns on a rose. But what do we know? We prefer watching Shakespeare in movie form (My Own Private Idaho was his best work) and we've never liked INXS.
Still, the choice of one word over another can trigger completely different responses on the part of the reader. Gastro-pub, for example--is it pretentious or trendy or useless. We think the latter, though it didn't make our list.
With that in mind, here are the words (or phrases--we don't want to limit ourselves too much) we find either useless or downright irritating.
10. Traditional Caesar salad
Not that we don't want to use this phrase, mind you. It's just so hard to find a classic Caesar--you know, no chunks of grilled lobster, no toasted pepita, no organic quinoa, just a plain old salad with the original ingredients, nothing more.
9. World-renowned chef Jamie Oliver
We think this is pretty much self-explanatory. As a young cook, he was hand-picked by a television producer for stardom because of his, um, sex-appeal--if you can believe that. At least that's how one story goes.
Well, we use it all the time and will continue to do so, but not--and this is the point--in reference to non-review stories, amateur social networking type blurbs or any other restaurant-related piece based upon one visit.
7. Dirty martini Unless Girl Drink Drunk decides to pursue a martini story, of course. Otherwise City of Ate remains committed to proper eating and proper drinking. And men, simply put, don't pour canned olive sludge into a cocktail. Boys, yes. Women, certainly. Men, no.
6. To die for
Maybe Mount Suribachi was important enough to die for. Your dinner, however, should help stave off the inevitable rather than hasten it. Yeah, butter, cream, fatty bacon and the like may kill us eventually. But these bring joy and flavor to life, so it's okay.
5. Calf Fries
We don't care how drunk you are, there's no place for this in the culinary annals. Oh, we may be forced by events to refer to the land oysters, but otherwise...
This is one of those lazy words people fall back on when they can't describe the flavors involved in a particular dish. And if you can't describe the flavors in a particular dish, why the hell are you writing about it? Of course, we're not perfect. It slips through on occasion.
For the same reason as given under 'delicious,' only more so.
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It began culinary life as a derogatory term for White Castle's greasy little burgers: "slides right in, slides right out." In other words, a slider is capable of causing gastrointestinal distress...although it passes quickly. Why upscale restaurants have adopted this to describe some very good mini-sandwiches, we'll never know.
Ah, the genius of those who snobbishly wish to set themselves above others, without the appearance of pretense. They adapt the word "foodie," which sounds so proletarian. But then it starts to grate on you. If someone declares themselves a "foodie" because they appreciate food, they are essentially saying that you--as a non-foodie--don't. Anyway, we're convinced some of the men who take the name drink dirty martinis.