Which food phrases or words would you like to see gone?

The New York Times Kim Severson recently tweeted a provocative question: asking which food writing words and phrases people would like to ban. She started with calling a restaurant an eatery (I’m guilty of that one) and calling vegetables ‘veggies’ (which I avoid doing). Several other food writers chimed in with words they would like to see disappear.

David Wondrich chimed in with ‘sammie/sammich’, while Kat Kinsman added a list of items including ‘craveworthy’. Other contenders for the dustbin included ‘foodie’ (plenty of agreement there), and ‘tucking into’. Some of the replies were thoughtful, such as the person who said that using “mom and pop” as “a generic term to describe small, independent restaurants. not an outright ban but maybe a more thoughtful consideration of how “elevate” can be more of a classist than helpful description of someone’s cooking,” to which Severson agreed, responding with “What if it’s a mom-and-mom restaurant?”

Dozens more words were offered to be placed on the chopping block, with only a few dissenters to the concept. One person responded with “I have to say I am, and always have been, against the banning of any words available to the writer. Let them phrase as they may.”

As someone who has written about food nearly every day for eight years, I have sympathy for people who choose some of these words. I tend not to use ‘foodie’ and ‘veggies’, but the notion that I shouldn’t use ‘eatery’ is more difficult to accept. When you are discussing restaurants it’s annoying to keep saying ‘restaurant’ over and over, and you can only mention the name of a specific place so many times before it starts to sound weird. Establishment can work, but that sounds stuffy.

I hope our readers will forgive us if we overuse a word or two here on the EYB blog. Some days it’s a struggle to find an adjective that fits when describing a food, and so ‘delicious’ may end up as the default option even though a better word may exist. But I think it’s safe to say you won’t see us describing a sandwich as a ‘sammie’.

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  • Jane  on  January 31, 2022

    Not a fan of “foodie” and another one I dislike is “inhale” when describing eating. I find it hard enough to come up with descriptive food words when writing recipe Notes – I would really struggle doing a restaurant review (or any of the wonderful food posts that Darcie and Jenny produce).

  • ccav  on  January 31, 2022

    These are words I wouldn’t mind seeing less of:

  • Fyretigger  on  January 31, 2022

    I guess I always wonder why a particular word or expression sets someone off. Sometimes it seems to be offense at informal use of language — they are offended by a breezy style of writing. Some folks (I have a brother like this), take exception to every coining of a new word (like ‘foodie’).

    But as our world evolves, so too must how we talk about it.

    Humor me with a quick little test… Three essentially synonymous words: gourmand, gourmet and foodie. Is there one of those words you are more likely to use to describe someone who orders a 5 course meal and 2 desserts? Is there a word there you would use to describe someone who only eats at the finest restaurants? And is there a word there that describes the friend you could ask about both Michelin starred restaurants and taco trucks?

    I have sympathy for those who react to more visceral, triggering descriptive words. I mean, as a writer, did you really need to go there, or are you just trying to be intentionally provocative?

    But otherwise, I’m all for giving lots of leeway.

  • gamulholland  on  February 1, 2022

    Obviously people can write whatever they want, but I could do with a bit less of “unctuous” and “toothsome.” 🙂

  • Jenny  on  February 1, 2022

    I don’t think any words should be banned or forbidden to be used. When we start banning words – we might as well just hang up our keyboards and call it a day. I have words that annoy me but I would never tell anyone that they should be stricken – no matter how much they rub me the wrong way.

  • Indio32  on  February 1, 2022

    Flavoursome…..for sure!

  • FuzzyChef  on  February 1, 2022


  • KatieK1  on  February 1, 2022

    Sinfully delicious.

  • KatieK1  on  February 1, 2022

    Also parm.

  • lene  on  February 1, 2022


  • Rinshin  on  February 1, 2022

    Languages evolve so I am with Jenny on this too. Let people and writers use their own words to describe eating and foods. Their style of writing will also change with time. Sando is how sandwiches are always referred in Japan. Too hard to say sandwich. Esp tonkatsu and egg sando. I notice Uk and Australian writers use a word brilliant and Americans use awesome to describe good food.

  • averythingcooks  on  February 1, 2022

    I’m also in the “let them chose their words” camp and am certainly guilty of using “veggies” all the time. But if I HAD to pick one descriptor that sets my teeth on edge it’s “ooey gooey”.

  • tmjellicoe  on  February 1, 2022

    Elevate is on my list. Way overused especially thanks to MasterChef. “It’s Mac ‘n Cheese, but elevated” 🙄

  • averythingcooks  on  February 1, 2022

    And I will add one more teeth gritter ……..”food porn”.

  • sayeater  on  February 1, 2022

    I will forever and always use “veggie”. As a vegetarian I can’t be bothered to type out the whole thing every time I use it (which is a lot). Sometimes I’m really lazy and just use “veg” LOL. But feel free to get rid of eatery, restaurant works just fine and doesn’t make it seem like you are trying too hard.

  • Indio32  on  February 1, 2022

    …… forgot to add “next level”

  • tarae1204  on  February 1, 2022

    The word that most bothers me due to its overuse is “revelatory.”

  • bching  on  February 1, 2022

    Someone has already mentioned the word “sinful’, and expanding on that, I’d like to see less use of any words that have a moral/ religious connotation, even less use of words like “tempting” or “temptation.” Food brings us together and taking the moral judgment out of the way we talk about it would make the community even stronger.

  • bookpoet  on  February 1, 2022

    It seems like there are not a lot of good alternatives for “foodie,” though. It’s simple, everyone knows what it means – a particularly food-loving person. Someone who’s not a professional, not a “gourmand” (too stuffy). For a little word, it does the job.

  • MaineDruid  on  February 1, 2022

    “Enjoy!” Whether from the lips of my server in a restaurant or the closing text of a printed recipe, this single word has entirely the opposite effect on me. On the printed page I can blot it out with a marker; not so with a human being.

  • eliza  on  February 1, 2022

    None of these words bothers me. I find words and phrases interesting; for example, here in Canada you never hear people say “tuck in” to a meal. It sounds British to me, and quite charming.

  • annmartina  on  February 1, 2022

    Now that everything is described as A-MA-ZING, are there any superlatives left for things that are even better.

  • rmpostonmfandt  on  February 1, 2022

    I have a huge dislike of food being called “sexy.” Ugh, that term to describe food or its preparation is so weird to me! And I can always do without “moist.” 😉

  • JFM  on  February 2, 2022

    I agree, banning is never a good idea, but using certain words less might help. I don’t like to hear the expression “….running through it…..” when describing for example “a note of saffron running through it….” and I don’t like the expression “fine dining”! What is the opposite: bad dining? I always want to dine well! ;=))

  • Plutarch  on  February 2, 2022

    I live in the UK. Unlike in the US and some other countries, in this country we do not have any species of Bass which live in fresh water. Our Bass all live in the ocean.Therefore using the name Sea Bass in this country, does my head in. It has become an ever more common thing in recent years and is regularly used by professional celebrity chefs who should know better.

  • SenseiHeidi  on  February 2, 2022

    Preheating the oven. Unthawing – verbal useage.

  • sanfrannative  on  February 2, 2022

    I live in Virginia and for some reason writers here sometimes like to refer to food as “fare.” Come on guys! This ain’t the 18th century! They also like to put an “e” on the end of things to make them sound “colonial”. As in the Virginia Ham Shoppe (which sells some awesome traditional ham products, but still!)

  • KevinSeattle  on  February 2, 2022

    “Veg” makes my teeth itch, and I loathe “parm” anything.

  • darcie_b  on  February 2, 2022

    Finally thought of one I don’t want to read ever again: “to die for”.

  • ameliark  on  February 3, 2022

    I’d like people to stop describing foods as ‘luxe’ or ‘lush’. I’d also like to banish the phrase “drool worthy”. And I hate when recipes are titled to imply addictiveness, as in ‘crack dip’ or ‘lamb obsession’. Please don’t.

  • anniette  on  February 3, 2022

    I was thinking that there is no food descriptor that drives me crazy, but then I remembered “sides”. Just that. Always strikes me as sloppy. Side orders (a lovely John Egerton book), side dishes, accompaniments, anything, just not “sides”.

  • Foodycat  on  February 3, 2022

    Doesn’t bother me but my husband is actually driven to rage by “melt in the mouth”.

  • annmartina  on  February 3, 2022

    The recipe you need in your life

  • elizabethandwhite.cook  on  February 4, 2022

    Sarnie for sandwich
    I saw a menu the other day with desserts labelled under “Greedy” which was appalling

  • arlojill  on  February 4, 2022

    Great post and great answers!!

  • jmcmanigal  on  February 4, 2022

    I treasure good writing, which is why I am irritated by “trendy” words and lame abbreviations. It seems that the writers have no ideas or creativity of their own.

    My list of irritants:
    Think (used to propose examples)
    “Jammy” eggs
    Food porn (Is the food being objectified? Are you reading in secret?)
    “Here’s looking at you, [example of what they are talking about].”

  • lindseyshannon34  on  February 5, 2022

    I don’t have strong feeling about most of these words. But I would be thrilled to never see the word “crack” in a recipe again. Goodbye “Crack chicken”!

    I think the sheer amount of “crack______” recipes were what got me to drop Pinterest and subscribe to EYB.

  • annmartina  on  February 8, 2022


  • Cherimich  on  February 23, 2022

    I don’t think anyone is seriously asking for banning, but it’s fair to critique writing as lazy and expressions as overused. Is every loaf crusty? Must all fried foods be crispy? Excellent examples already posted, “sammie” in particular has the effect of making me especially not want to eat one. Also, I think the so-called ‘breezy’ or ‘conversational’ style is overused–I find the reflexive insertion of “well” (as it appears in, well, almost every lazy example of this style) to be very tired.

  • ElaineReeves  on  February 24, 2022

    I absolutely hate “cooking up a storm”. What does it even conjure up? A kitchen in a mess as if a hurricane has passed through perhaps.

  • jmcmanigal  on  February 24, 2022

    Anything with -ish added to the end

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