It’s unclear when humankind decided to abandon multisyllabic foods. But there’s no denying it: cutesy food abbreviations are everywhere. Former Bon Appetit editor Molly Baz is known for her “cae sal” (caesar salad) and “Sunday Supps” (Sunday supper recipes). Restaurant menus are full of “‘shrooms” and “tacs.” A few years back, Takeout contributor Danny Palumbo even satirized the phenomenon by creating a fake restaurant called Abbrevs. So where do we, the Takeout staff, stand on this ever-evolving foodie slang? Are cutesy food abbreviations a bit of harmless fun, or do they represent something more sinister?
I’ll say it: I think food abbreviations are fun! Cancel me!!!! Maybe it’s because Molly Baz reminds me of a cool girl I knew in high school who drove around in a beat-up Geo and called everything “sassy sass.” I get a kick out of Baz’s vernacular, the way she calls salads “gorgigi” instead of “gorgeous” and talks about chopping up a bunch of “chicken cutties.” Playing with your food is almost as fun as playing with your vocabulary, and I think there’s room for both in the modern lexicon.
Two exceptions: first, I hate it when restaurant menus include these types of abbreviations. It leans into “how do you do, fellow kids?” territory and makes you feel like an idiot upon ordering the “Yowza Wowza Sausage ’Za.” Second, I don’t like cutesy stuff within recipes, because 99% of the time I have no idea what the hell the writer is talking about. Don’t get funny with your ingredient lists, and we won’t have a prob, Bob.
Like most people, I have fully embraced this age of immediate gratification, and can’t fathom ever returning to life as it once was. How many precious hours of my life did I waste standing in line at Blockbuster or seeking the answers to stupid questions in encyclopedias? It’s time I could have spent doing important things, like watching Captain Ron six more times before I had to return it to Blockbuster.
When it comes to words, though, I don’t want that immediate gratification. As our society has lopped away bits of our language and replaced them with acronyms and emojis, something about us has changed in kind. Once upon a time, for example, the term “LOL” meant “laughing out loud,” but now there are people who actually say “LOL” in place of a hearty chuckle during face-to-face interactions! They are neither laughing nor doing so out loud. How long will it be until LOL is fully replaced by 😂?
The same is true of how we talk about food. I once despised cutesy food nicknames just because I found them annoying, but now I dislike them because they’re dangerous. Are any of us really too busy to say “Caesar salad” in its entirety? If so, what are we so busy doing? Shouldn’t we busy ourselves with delicious Caesar salad? In the future, there might be no pizza—we might only have time for “za.” Is that really the kind of world we want to live in?