Food words and ways of the very devil

I have been thinking about a lexical set that I find problematic. That is, food words. Descriptions of food and its eating. Lexis that makes me wince, feel embarrassed or go a bit green. So here we go. Oh these are just for starters (get it?) and to this topic we shall return because I have a first short story collection out this September and it’s all about food, feasts, consuming and being consumed, but we will talk about that nearer the time, yes?

Right. Here we go.

Tasty. That is the worst word, isn’t it? It just sounds vulgar. I mean, I am vulgar but this is a shade too far. It’s also what older blokes say about younger women they think are attractive and it’s creepy. Sometimes the problem with a word is its associations.

Nibbles. It’s not just the sound of it – ugh ugh ugh – but what it connotes. Let me elaborate. Nibbling at something is fey and lacks lust, unless you are a squirrel and even then I don’t like the word. Nibbles – as in something you have with drinks – would make me want to get drunk. I think that ‘ibble’ in the middle is playful but not in a good way. And what is more, I remember going out on a date with a bloke who told me he was tempted to nibble my ears and I could not get out of there fast enough.

Platter. I hate that. If you start combining it with ‘loaded’, succulent’ or ‘luscious’ then I would not be able to eat. Platter just sounds feral to me; like you are face-down in a trough, porcine and unforgiving, with an angry bitey mouth. But this could just be me.

Succulent. Why? Because it’s horrid. It’s sucky, it’s drippy and too much but not in a good way.

Oozing. That is for wounds and pus, not a frigging pudding, please. It’s not even forgiveable for those times when you have an evening of extravagant sex and cheese planned and you heave to with a camenbert which you have cooked in the book so it’s melting and you scoop it mouthwards with bread, a gherkin or your lover’s hand. No – clearly the camenbert has melted inside the box and maybe over you and you can picture its gorgeous viscosity BUT EVEN THEN I cannot allow that golden French round to be oozing.

Atop. I actually don’t know why I hate that. Because it’s twee? Why does your cherry have to be atop your cake?

Open-faced. As in open-faced sandwich. For a start that’s not a sandwich and secondly I would not want to eat anything with a face. I mean, anything with a face that was looking right at me.

Nestled (usually on a bed of). That doesn’t really make sense. Nestled is what the baby Jesus is in the manger, not your aspic on a bed on a bed of lettuce. All too much.

Medallions of…I am being fussy now. I think it’s the meat-massive jewellery mash-up. I imagine you with veal on your chest and maybe running down the beach, looking a bi like David Hassellhoff with your meat medallion swinging as you go.

Moist. It’s an embarrassing word and should not be applied to anything. Not even cake. Or weather. (FYI I am also embarrassed by the word damp.) And NEVER anything to to do with sex through some misguided lunge at the language of the erotic. However, I am not sure what the alternative is since there is nothing as disappointing as a granular and desiccated bastard of a chocolate cake which could have been a transformative moment for you had it been the m word.

Supper. This is a little unfair. To me, supper is a little snack and maybe some milk near to bedtime. If someone invites me over for supper, I am going to find risotto odd. But you are probably posher than me.

Veggies. Why does anyone say this? Vegetables is a perfectly solid and reliable word.

Avo. Why do people abbreviate avocado in this hateful way?

Morsel. It’s not as bad as nibble, but it suggests meanness or maybe restraint that you then draw attention to, passive aggressively. You only had a morsel (unlike lard-arse there who had a slab).

Mouth-feel. You hear this in reviews or from specialists in the higher echelons of food tasting. When I hear it (which is not, admittedly, a lot), I am somehow minded of someone who is incredibly bad in bed but thinks they are textbook superb and a sort of gourmet of the erotic and one way they size you up is by your mouth feel. I’m sorry; am I disturbing you at all?

Jus. I feel there’s just too much of that about and it’s generally written when people mean sauce, though I could be wrong.

Sumptuous. Too many long vowels. If you combine it with feast – ‘a sumptuous feast’ – then you’ve got dyspepsia right there. It’s too much and the soft sounds and that squealing ee in feast are an irritant. It’s just dripping…gushing awfulness. Well, I think. The dyspepsia is also from the fact that it’s excessive in a way that is not pleasing, but suffocating, I think – because it’s about show and conspicuous consumption.

Scrummy. It’s just gross; makes me cringe.

Delish. Same problem as with veggies (above). Perfectly respectable word infantilised.

Nom. Or Nom nom. God, I hope they’re not reading this, but that extremely successful book with this word in its title, well am I the only one cringing? It makes me think of people gluttonously – oh NOM NOM – smacking their lips and banging forks against their teeth and making deathly screeches across their china with a fork. Or someone mumbling through a mouthful of food, unable to speak properly, maybe spraying you with a piece of spaghetti and then trying to get off with you. AND EVEN WORSE saying the same thing to you, OH NOM NOM BABY.

Crispy. What is wrong with crisp? Or do I just have an issue with a ee sound in words?

I think that’s quite enough for now because you might be off to have your tea, but do tell me if any of these bother you and also if you think I have been radically unfair. And I look forward to your company with Famished.

A x

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