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9 phrases to ban from restaurant menus


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--"Shrimp Scampi"; "Eggplant alla melanzane"; "With au jus"

Respectively interpreted as "shrimp shrimp"; "eggplant in the style of eggplant"; and "with with juice."

--"Garden Fresh"

Rick Bayless garnishes with microgreens grown in his Bucktown garden. He has the right to say garden fresh. You don't, Subway.

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Are there any other common menu phrases you find particularly irksome?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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--"Shrimp Scampi"; "Eggplant alla melanzane"; "With au jus"

Respectively interpreted as "shrimp shrimp"; "eggplant in the style of eggplant"; and "with with juice."

--"Garden Fresh"

Rick Bayless garnishes with microgreens grown in his Bucktown garden. He has the right to say garden fresh. You don't, Subway.

Full article here

Are there any other common menu phrases you find particularly irksome?

Bisque when it has absolutely nothing to do with shell fish "Tomato Bisque" being the big offender in this one...

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another from the dept of redundancy dept:

Today's Soup du Jour

Other irritations:

the "v" word (veggie) - is it really that much trouble to spell-out vegetables?

use of the word "gourmet" as an adjective to describe any food item

"farm-fresh" (unless it's really true - as in the example of Rick Bayless' microgreens)

"Tuscan" used to describe things that no self-respecting Toscano would recognize

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Any chocolate dessert described as a sin ("chocolate decadence cheesecake"), any chocolate dessert dessert described as a potentially fatal health condition ("chocolate heart attack sundae") or any chocolate dessert described in a way that relates it to sex ("chocolate orgasm cookies").

These naming conventions would only be (barely) tolerable if named in a deliberately quirky metacommenting way, such as "chocolate sloth cheesecake," "chocolate renal failure sundae" or "chocolate backdoor love cookies."

--

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"Tuscan" used to describe things that no self-respecting Toscano would recognize

There's a chain in Los Angeles called "(something with an R) Tuscan Grill"...Not a single Tuscan thing on the menu. Not a one. I think they make chicken with Rosemary and decided it must be Tuscan.

Another redundancy: Tuna fish

I've always known Tuna fish to be tuna from a can and Tuna to be the fresh fish. I have no idea why I think that.

Edited by ambra (log)
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Another redundancy: Tuna fish

I've always known Tuna fish to be tuna from a can and Tuna to be the fresh fish. I have no idea why I think that.

For some reason it has become customary to append "fish" at the end of certain preparations of various fish. It's not just tuna fish. For example, where I grew up in New England, one eats codfish cakes, not cod cakes.

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Heh. I was waiting for the first post to suggest replacing one incorrect description with an equally incorrect one. :smile:

I'd call that "frying" rather than "pan roasting."

"Roasting" is cooking (unenclosed and dry) using directional radient heat. Whatever "pan roasting" is, it would have to be starting something in a pan and then keeping the food in that same pan while roasting it. This would usually be an oven, although there is some question in my mind as to whether something cooked in an enclosed oven can be considered "roasted" rather than "baked."

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"(Fill in the blank) Almondine" bothers me way out of proportion to the offense. (Ditto "with au jus," etc., as posted earlier.) That's probably because I perceive the bastardization of the French "Amandine" as stemming from a combination of general ignorance plus our populace's tendency to look down on other countries (except maybe Canada).

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Sautéed fish, steak, chicken, etc... when it is really pan-roasted.  If you are placing your protein in a hot sauté pan with an eighth inch of oil and leaving it alone until browns it is pan-roasting not sautéing.

um, no its not. pan roasting is finishing by throwing the "pan" in the oven to "roast"

putting a piece of fish in a pan with a little hot oil is called "saute"...a lot more oil its called "pan fry"

pan roast is finishing in the oven. period.

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Oh, I so agree with the horrifying chocolate dessert names. I was a baker at a local catering/lunch place, and my duties included making Chocolate Suicide Cake, Chocolate Blackout Cake, Death by Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Tornadoes, and the WORST - a sugar free cake that my manager actually labeled "Diabetic Death By Chocolate Cake." For heaven's sake.

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Oh, I so agree with the horrifying chocolate dessert names. I was a baker at a local catering/lunch place, and my duties included making Chocolate Suicide Cake, Chocolate Blackout Cake, Death by Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Tornadoes, and the WORST - a sugar free cake that my manager actually labeled "Diabetic Death By Chocolate Cake." For heaven's sake.

Just for the historical record, "Blackout Cake" is an old Brooklyn style that I don't think is part of the lamentable trend you and Sam are referring to. I think their "blackout" means something else.

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Sure, shrimp scampi is (I guess) redundant, but hasn't it been around for like 60 years?  Not sure it's going anywhere anytime soon.

You mean you don't expect to see menu items labeled "shrimp prepared in a manner vaguely resembling some traditional Italian dish, maybe, if you're lucky"?

In some cases, it helps to remember that when a word is adopted from one language to another, it does not always, and in fact usually does not, retain precisely its original meaning or grammatical structure. This may be annoying when the adoption is relatively recent and the original meaning may still be discerned, but it is normal. When you see "shrimp scampi" on an English restaurant menu, you are effectively seeing an English phrase that has a particular meaning in English that may only be tangentially related to what "scampi" means in Italian.

Of course, it is also true that when describing food, foreign words are sometimes used in place of perfectly good English words that mean basically the same thing, merely as an affectation. This is also annoying, because labeling something in French doesn't make it taste better.

And then, of course, there are the words that are used as a sort of deceptive cover, or perhaps suggestive of a kind of fantasy, such as the "Tuscan" example. Does it really matter if the food is really "Tuscan"? The restaurants that do this are in the business of selling an atmosphere as much as anything else. An air of the slightly exotic. Sure, it's a delusion, but I don't really expect them to stop doing it.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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1. the name of the farm of the vegetable/meat on the menu.

Going to have to disagree on this one. This is a big thing, at least out here in the northwest. With the whole sustainability issues and what not, I see no problem putting up something like "Cascade Farms Beef Tartar"...Because out here Cascade Farms does beef quite well and why not promote your farm partner?

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1. the name of the farm of the vegetable/meat on the menu.

Going to have to disagree on this one. This is a big thing, at least out here in the northwest. With the whole sustainability issues and what not, I see no problem putting up something like "Cascade Farms Beef Tartar"...Because out here Cascade Farms does beef quite well and why not promote your farm partner?

I agree. The source of a product is a useful bit of information. I prefer it even if the specific farm is one that I'm not familiar with. If it is good I can familiarize myself with it. If not, I may avoid it in the future.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I think if the provenance thing gets out of hand, it becomes a precious affectation. It's one thing to say "Sconzo Farms Cote de Boeuf with red wine reduction and roasted Wemedge Crest parsnips." It's another thing to say, as some places do, "Sconzo Farms Maremmana Côte de Boeuf, reduction of Kinsey Cellars biodynamic Claret 2007 mounted with Fat Guy Dairy grass-fed pig butter, roasted Wemedge Crest parsnips, Raji Meadows heirloom Amish 'speckled' onions, organic Sneakeater Mews parsley."

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I think if the provenance thing gets out of hand, it becomes a precious affectation.  It's one thing to say "Sconzo Farms Cote de Boeuf with red wine reduction and roasted Wemedge Crest parsnips."  It's another thing to say, as some places do, "Sconzo Farms Maremmana Côte de Boeuf, reduction of Kinsey Cellars biodynamic Claret 2007 mounted with Fat Guy Dairy grass-fed pig butter, roasted Wemedge Crest parsnips, Raji  Meadows heirloom Amish 'speckled' onions, organic Sneakeater Mews parsley."

Maybe. But I would totally eat that.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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