Have you been to an Italian restaurant and found that your server couldn’t pronounce the names of common Italian dishes?
If you’re in a Mexican restaurant, chances are that your waitperson speaks Spanish, but what about Mexican dishes in a non-Mexican restaurant? I’m a firm believer that restaurateurs and their servers shouldn’t serve things that they cannot pronounce… it makes me think that they might not be able to cook ’em either.
Here are some food terms that are constantly mispronounced by waitpersons (AND many diners, too) and the proper way to pronounce, order, or sell them:
1. At the top of the list is the phrase “au jus“. This is a phrase describing how something, such as prime rib, is served. Nothing is served WITH au jus. Things are served au jus (pronounced “oh-joo”), which means (loosely) “with juice”. To say that something is served “with au jus” is to say that it is served “with with juice”. TV chefs are clueless in this regard, and I’m surprised that the network doesn’t clue them in. It doesn’t clue them because the producers are clueless, too.
2. A biggie that I have NEVER heard a server in an Italian restaurant, steakhouse, or any other restaurant (except Tony’s in Houston) pronounce correctly, is “bruschetta“. Pronounced correctly as “broos-ket’-ta”, it is frequently pronounced incorrectly as “broo-shetta”. Sorry, but I have actually been incorrectly corrected by a server on my pronunciation of the word. Made me want to leave the restaurant.
3. Here in Texas, we should all be able to pronounce our favorite chile, the beautiful and flavorful Jalapeño. Most of us can, but I still hear it pronounced as “hala-pee-no” instead of the correct pronunciation “hala-pehn’-yo”. Best example would be Emeril, who just can’t say the word.
4. Speaking of Jalapeños, when you smoke them, you have a Chipotle. I suppose pronouncing this pepper is like the inability that many have pronouncing the word “realtor”. They just cannot do it. The word “chipotle” is pronounced “chi-poat’-lay”… NOT “chi-pol-tee”.
5. While we’re on Mexican food, let’s cover “guacamole“. It’s pronounced “wok-a-mo’-lay”… NOT “gwak-a-mo-lee”.
6. Another biggie that is butchered by servers, diners… and (again) TV chefs, is balsamic vinegar. It is NOT pronounced ba-sal-mik it IS pronounced “bal-som’-ik”.
7. And puleeze… espresso is pronounced “es-press-o”… NOT “ex-press-o”. God, that sets my teeth on edge. C’mon, don’t get insulted… I wasn’t talking about you.
8. Dessert Sherbet is pronounced exactly that – “sher-bet”… NOT “sher-bert”.
9. The Caesar’s (NOT Caesar salad) Salad was invented in Tijuana, Mexico, NOT Rome. It was named after Caesar Cardini (the restaurateur-inventor)… NOT Julius Caesar. And while we’re at it, Tijuana is pronounced “tee-hwana”… NOT “tee-ah-wanna”.
10. How about “restaurateur“? Please note that there is no “n” in it. Therefore, it is not pronounced as “restaurant-teur”… it is pronounced “restaura-teur'”.
Any more that chap your hind-quarters? Please comment. I’m interested.