14 Foodie Phrases That Have Lost All Meaning

We now live in a food culture where no phrase can be uttered without being a stupid pun or insider slang, and in the process, we've developed a culinary lexicon that has become so convoluted, reading a menu sounds like a cross between a science book, a travelogue, and a lost diary from the Oregon Trail. In short, we need to clean up our f****** language, starting with these phrases.


We appreciate the idea of freshness as much as anybody, but this kind of gives us the suspicion that we're gonna get a plate full of dirt clods. Every place that doesn't use frozen veggies (except the really hip ones without tables) is now using this, and it's making Old McDonald's kids feel less special at Sunday dinner.


"Oh no, that’s not a salad, that’s a deconstructed chicken sandwich with avocado, spinach, baby carrots, ramps, a light raspberry vinaigrette, and lemon zest. See, the roll’s over there, on the side."

kitchen driven cocktails
Flickr/Christopher Koppes (edited)

"Kitchen-driven cocktails"

Whoever is driving with cocktails should be reprimanded. Except in Wyoming, where you can get drive-thru ones.

"Carefully curated"

A "curated" menu is just a menu with a pretentious name. Every menu is designed for somebody. Serving crepes doesn't make you the Louvre.


"Seasonal menu" is a little too lowbrow? Or do you want us to be concerned about the commodities exchange while we eat a foraged salad? Because, if that's the case, foraged salad bonds are going down.

Flickr/KyleWiTh (Edited)


A term used for movie remakes and putting some non-gravy sauce on fried chicken. You're not really re-imagining anything... you're just changing things people eat all the time. That's just called regular imagining. Or using the ingredients on hand.

"Riffs on classics"

Riffs on classics should be reserved for somebody ripping a bitchin' guitar solo during a rendition of "Slow Ride." Not a beef Wellington that uses truffles instead of button mushrooms.


Unless you're incorporating ingredients from Russia, Taiwan, Iraq, and beyond, you probably don't want to use this phrase. Especially if you're just plopping some soy sauce on something. "Asian" is fine.

"Slow food"

Makes it sound like your pasta was held back a grade. Not to be confused with the folks involved with the Slow Movement -- who we're sure are all nice people -- this term has been co-opted by people who make fast food at a slower pace.


When it first started appearing on menus, it came with the promise of ingredients lovingly transformed by a culinary master. Now, "artisanal" is a descriptor on frozen dinners and canned soup. Those can artisans apprentice for decades!

new american
Flickr/dizzylizzy1227 (edited)

"New American"

A new American is what Apu became when he aced his citizenship class, not just putting weird ingredients in diner food.

"Molecular gastronomy"

When you're eating something under the "molecular gastronomy" name, you know you're getting some mad food science; they'll use beakers, break stuff down into elements and reassemble them, and basically behave like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew in the kitchen. It's awesome. And it deserves a better name than this, which sounds like a boring-ass college course or a procedure in which a tube is inserted into your throat.


Who the hell else would be driving? The busboy?

"We just want to be a neighborhood spot"

Well played. You're in the neighborhood. And you're a spot. If I live in a different neighborhood, can I please still come in?

Andy Kryza is a senior editor on Thrillist's food & drink team. He would like to open a neighborhood spot featuring microwave-driven fare. Follow him to simpleton speech @apkryza.