Top ten annoying food and drink words

Here are ten words that I particularly dislike in food and drink writing. I was going to explain why after each but seeing them there on the page, their awfulness is obvious. Suffice to say, I have put them in because they’re meaningless, over-used or just plain horrid (I’m thinking of you foodie.)

1)      Foodie

2)      Sustainable

3)      Oodles

4)      Quaffing

5)      Iconic

6)      Foraged

7)      Superfood

8)      Artisan

9)      Curated

10)   Heritage

Does anyone have anything to add?


I’ve just remembered how much I hate the phrase ‘popped & poured’ repeated ad nauseum on American wine sites such as Cellar Tracker.

Oh and ‘mixologist’, that should be somewhere high up on this list.

About Henry

I’m a drinks writer. My day job is features editor at the Master of Malt blog. I also contribute to BBC Good Food, the Spectator and others. You can read some of my work here. I’ve done a bit of radio, given some talks and written a couple of books (Empire of Booze, The Home Bar and the forthcoming Cocktail Dictionary).
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34 Responses to Top ten annoying food and drink words

  1. toby says:

    veggie. Or, worse, veggies. To describe vegetables not vegetarians. And those added prepositions chefs use on telly: boning “OUT”, frying “OFF”, toasting “UP”. Actually I like them but not veggies. Get your veggie box here. Put your veggies on the side. I couldn’t be a friend of someone who said that.

  2. Henry says:

    Plating UP?

    What I dislike most about the word ‘veggie’ is the suggestion that there’s something nice and cosy about being a vegetarian.

  3. Paola says:

    “Yummy food” is a phrase I detest, when used by adults. Especially those over 40.

  4. Chaz Folkes says:

    ‘Rustic’ being used for food that looks slapdash or shoddily prepared. The adjective has become ubiquitous, and while I will admit that rustic can mean crude or rough around the edges, the main use of the word is to denote “of, characteristic of, or living in the country.”

  5. Suzy says:

    I can’t see anything wrong with foraged. What else would you say – gathered or picked or something? Also what alternative to sustainable? I’m not cross, just asking!

    • Henry says:

      My problem with ‘sustainable’ is that the word has no meaning. Every wine producer and new restaurant talks about something called ‘sustainability’ which seems to boil down to putting solar panels on their roof. Anyone can say something is ‘sustainable’ without having to do very much. Does it mean producing less CO2? Does it mean not using synthetic fertilsers? In contrast something like biodynamics may be absolute nonsense but at least there’s a certain rigour to it.

      My beef with foraged is that I don’t really care how a cook obtained the ingredient. I just want it to taste good.

      • Sam Jary says:

        Good call Henry, I’m with you on most of those although I do like quaffer to describe a non-pretentious bottle of plonk (but, agreed, not quaffing). I also think the description ‘artisan’ still has some validity in Europe, in reference to a skilled worker making something traditionally and well… less so on a petrol station pie somewhere off the M25.

        With reference to your reply above, I whole-heartedly agree that the tag ‘sustainable’ is often the most awful bilge. I write here as someone who used to spend far too much time filling out pointless ‘Sustainable Winemaking’ and ‘Sustainable Vineyard’ audits as a winemaker, which were structured in such a patently bias way that one could technically spray the most horrific chemicals and still be judged ‘Sustainable’ as long as you also claimed to be recycling your cardboard and using vegetable ink on your labels.

        However, I really must pick you up on biodynamics being ‘absolute nonsense’ (the popular interpretation of it may be but the hard science of it is not) and your comment: ‘My beef with ‘foraged’ is that I don’t really care how a cook obtained the ingredient. I just want it to taste good.’

        Now, I sort of understand where you are coming from (in that ‘foraged’ has come to sound pretentious and w*nky) but surely the whole point of something tasting good – be it wine or food – is that it all comes down to the purity of the ingredient? The job of the best chef or winemaker is to do the absolute minimum, thus preserving rather than smothering that purity.

        Whether something is wild or factory-farmed, or is grown biodynamically or slathered in synthetic agrichemicals matters hugely. You may not care and you may just want it to taste good, but that’s all so much wishful thinking if it hasn’t been grown properly in the first place.

        I wrote a piece about this for a NZ magazine, which you’ve just inspired me to dig out for my own fledgling blog. In the meantime, a paragraph from it that perhaps best applies to wanting wine or food to taste good regardless of the basic quality of the ingredients is this one:

        “Although it is still all too easy to make bad wine from good grapes, it remains as impossible now as it ever has been to make good wine from bad grapes. Winemakers can cover up many shortcomings with the modern ‘make-up’ of new oak, technology and additives but, as Barack Obama famously pointed out, a pig wearing lipstick is still a pig.”

        I would argue that this is just as valid for ‘foraged’ over industrially grown. Or staying with the porcine metaphors, that you really can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Although you can apparently make a beef lasagne out of a horse’s… sorry, I’ll get my coat.

      • Henry says:

        Thanks for your thoughtful reply. For some reason I can’t reply directly to your reply. I’m not saying biodynamics is nonsense, I’m saying it may be. Yes it seems work and there are certainly enough high-profile advocates but no one is able to show why it works. Steiner strikes me as such an obvious crank.Even though biodynamic techniques do seem to work, the overall philosophy could still be nonsense. I have the not-entirely original theory that biodynamics attracts obsessive people and it encourages them to be even more obsessive about the health of their grapes.

    • Sam Jary says:

      I completely agree with your ‘attention to detail’ theory – that’s undoubtedly a big part of it. I also agree Steiner can come across as a total lunatic and some aspects of his teachings are patently suspect. However, having grown grapes biodynamically for some time, I more and more believe that there is method in his madness.

      Ignoring the whole Cosmos side of it for a minute (it may work, it may not – who knows?), I think it works for two reasons. The first is the absence of synthetic chemicals, especially herbicides which kill off not just weeds but microbes. The second is the addition of microbe-rich compost and sprays to the soil which then enable symbiotic funghi to work in tandem with the vine to pull up absolutely all the nutrients and minerals it requires. Not the ones we, or Monsanto, think it might need.

      Anyway Henry, I could drone on for hours about this fascinating subject but I think the most important thing to remember is that wine is just concentrated grapes, just as cheese is essentially concentrated grass. The better the base ingredient, then surely the better the taste and quality of the finished product?

      Right, I’m off to quaff an iconic artisan ale. Thanks again for a great post Henry.

  6. Chaz Folkes says:

    Oh, and ‘carbs’ for carbohydrates. For some reason the word makes me seethe. I now give a blank look when people use it then exclaim “Oh, you mean carbohydrates!” which doubtless makes me look like a wally, but principles are principles…

  7. Ha ha well put. I am probably guilty of using some of those words sometimes! One thing I hate, moreso on menus, though, is when things in sandwiches are ‘hand carved’. Ugh. Or a ‘hand raised’ pie. For goodness sake!

  8. Along with sustainable, I’d include ethical, free range and fair trade. They seem to be shorthand for left wing and middle class–both of which I am, but I don’t like being marketed to that way. Also sourced and gourmand. I could continue, but foodie really is the most annoying.

  9. Katy Guest says:

    “Hand-sourced”. What does it even mean?? But I like it when they mention on the menu that the chicken or eggs are free-range, because as a rule if the menu doesn’t say they are then they are not, and that is really rubbish.

  10. Glug – or, worse, glugger, as in “It’s a real glugger”.

    It’s demeaning to both wine and drinker. Imagine saying to a guest, “Here you go – have a glug of that”. Imagine somebody – like ‘Jolly’ Olly Smith, who seems primarily responsible for the term – drinking with the sound of a bath emptying.


    The Sediment Blog

  11. “Drizzle” started to get my goat, so no more TV for me then. “Pukka”- Thank God he has stopped that Brit-Pop Mockney rubbish now. “Muddle?” do not muddle the mint in my drink you pretentious … F**die. Bring back Floyd, then I almost am sure he went on and about “My Fellow Gastronomes.” This is too big an area for a list. Let us kettle and cull them … All.

    • Chaz Folkes says:

      Floyd was responsible for the word “Gastronauts” if I recall, which was funny the first couple of times… At least Floyd never once referred to a plate of food as “delish”.

      • Ha ha yes true. Ever had a “specially selected” ingredient and wondered what the criteria was? Availability? Price? Erm … the fact that it is central to the bloody recipe? I’ll stop now. Lists are a “fine” way to get everyone contributing with a “hint of” rage. Good blog by the way.

  12. Henry says:

    Muddle is awful, and I used it in a recent article in the Spectator: That’s what so insidious about words such as these, you end up using them without thinking.

  13. worm says:


  14. Trish says:

    – ‘Flavourful’ (the word is flavoursome)…
    – ‘Healthy’ (invariably used without anything to back it up)
    – ‘Spirulina’ (oh wait that’s a food stuff… apparently.)

  15. Flexitarian is damn awful.

  16. Annie B says:

    Moist…………………makes me not want to eat it!

  17. PippaC says:

    ‘Mixologist’ and ‘barista’ make me want to throw bricks through windows. ‘Jus’ makes me cranky when it just means ‘sauce’. Not keen on ‘irresistible’, ‘oozing’ or ‘morsel’ either.

  18. Emma B says:

    “Natural” – the judgemental smugness just oozes out. There’s a middle ground between Gallo and hippy crap, you know, and it’s not evil and wicked practice to use SO2.
    “Pan-fried” – unless it’s explicitly deep-fried, how else is it fried, FFS?
    And another vote for “sourced” – what’s wrong with just saying where something’s from?

  19. wilmaxrob says:

    “Leaves” when it’s a salad – faux simplicity. “Sourced,” instead of bought – faux complexity. As they write these words they are thinking “this enables me to add at least a quid to this grub..”

  20. PippaC says:

    Also ‘pop up’ and ‘take over’ ….. for example….. ‘The people behind Meat Liquor are taking over London’s Southbank for one weekend only, with their pop up restaurant Wankadoodoo’.

  21. Henry (notthehenry) says:



  22. Henry (notthehenry) says:

    Or, of course, lashings for other purposes not related to food…or drink…

  23. Dolly Dagger says:

    I strongly dislike the word tipple.

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