My professional life as an editor spills over into real life in unexpected and delightful ways. Even as a kid, I used to tsk-tsk at the Sunday church bulletin for being so full of typos. These days, the needling desire to reframe, recast, and rewrite sections of copy I spy in the wild bubbles up primarily at restaurants, where menus are often penned by enthusiastic, if not economical, writers. My brain fills in all the Oxford commas necessary to separate the various breakfast meat options, and then I start wondering if it could most accurately be referred to as the Kids Menu, Kids’ Menu, or Kid’s Menu. (I keep this all to myself, of course, because I’m not a pedantic asshole.) And then I start thinking of all the descriptive food words I could live without, like “chunky.”
I understand the utility of describing certain foods as “chunky,” especially salsa (which has a thinner, less chunky equivalent to distinguish it from), but that doesn’t make me hate the word any less. The word “chunky” has heft, requiring the full range of your mouth and tongue to produce. It sounds... I don’t know, rude? It’s not a word to use in polite company. It’s blunt and boorish. I have no reason to dislike it, and yet, somehow, I do.
I’ll give you another one: “yummy.” This doesn’t show up on menus as much as food influencer Instagram accounts. But I’ve never felt the urge to describe something delicious as “yummy,” and I suspect that those who use the word on social media really haven’t, either. Do you hear “yummy” in your daily life? Tasty, yes. Delish, yes. But yummy rings false to me. And that perceived falseness leaves me unreasonably irked.
Do you have words like this? Food descriptors that you will only ever consider unappetizing? Let us please, for the sake of this conversation, set aside the word “moist.” Yes, yes, you all hate it, it freaks you out, blah blah blah—we have a sneaking suspicion that we know the real reason for that. So, forget about “moist” for a moment. Which other words do you wish you never saw associated with food?