Mispronounced foods


I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
The 20 Most Commonly Mispronounced Food Words

I will never forget attempting to teach my ex-husband, a Brit who found himself confronted with cross-cultural confusion at every turn ("That is not a biscuit; it's a cookie." "You can't call a woman a 'silly c*nt' or she will slap you."), how to pronounce the word taco. As a Texan it's not a word we tend to over-think. But my ex could never quite grasp it and continues to call this omnipresent food a "tack-oh" to this day. Of course, it was he who finally taught me the proper way to pronounce Worcestershire sauce, despite being confused that we insist on adding the -shire suffix to it; back in England, it's simply called Worcester sauce, pronounced "wooh-ster" sauce.
There are still words that, even as a food critic, occasionally trip me up when I run across them. Running into cachaça for the first time stumped me, and I still don't know whether I should say "en-dive" or "ahn-deev" when referring that tasty chicory.
We polled our readers for their most commonly mispronounced words, and I wasn't surprised to see that French food terms -- this applies to Cajun foodstuffs, too -- top the list for confusion. "Brunoise, vichyssoise, anything French and ending in -se," as EOW blogger Nicholas L. Hall put it, still trip up diners after all these years.

Photo by CaitMaking chipotle peppers at home.​ At the risk of sounding pedantic, as reader Daniel Glover pointed out, "You have to have a happy medium though, or you just spend an entire food conversation trying to say every term with an appropriate pronunciation in various accents and it can get tedious and annoying." This is exemplified by the otherwise lovely Giada De Laurentiis. My friend Nada put it best: "I get annoyed with Giada from the Food Network and her need to pronounce everything correctly." And unless you -- like my ex -- want to run the risk of getting slapped, be very careful if you decide to correct someone who's saying any of the following words incorrectly.
Chipotle: By far the most common response, which surprised me given the proliferation of the chain restaurants named after the smoked pepper.
Proper pronunciation: chi-poht-ley.
Espresso: A long-time pet peeve, this is neither spelled nor pronounced with an "X" anywhere in it.
Proper pronunciation: e-spres-oh.
Bánh mì: This popular Vietnamese sandwich is just as popularly butchered, pronunciation-wise as "ban mee" or "bang mee."
Proper pronunciation: bahn mee (this is as close as many of us will get to the difficult diphthongs in the Vietnamese language; hear it yourself here).
Pho: This Vietnamese soup is pronounced almost exactly like the French word for fire, feu, for which it's named. It is not "foe." Again, with dipthongs it's difficult to get it exactly right, but you'll get close.
Proper pronunciation: fəʊ, or like the word "fur" without the "R" at the end.
Gyro: Depending on how correct you want to get, you can pronounce this the more accepted American way or like a true Greek.
Proper pronunciation: yee-raw, if you're Greek; jeer-oh or zheer-oh if you're American.

Photo by ulterior epicureFoie gras en terrine.​Foie gras: Any attempt to impress your date by ordering this fine food will fall flat when you ask for "foy grass."
Proper pronunciation: fwah grah. Gnocchi: As with gyros, you can go one of two ways here.
Proper pronunciation: nyawk-kee if you want to be Italian; nok-ee or noh-kee if you're American.
Quinoa: Pronunciation isn't the only thing about quinoa that people often get wrong; it's not a grain, as is so often assumed. It's actually a chenopod, like epazote and spinach.
Proper pronunciation: keen-wah.
Caipirinha: The equally difficult-to-pronounce cachaça (kuh-shah-suh) is a main ingredient in this popular Brazilian cocktail.
Proper pronunciation: kai-pee-reen-ya.
Açai berry: As with cachaça, the trick with Açai is in the cé cédille (that "C" with a tail on it) that's pronounced as a soft "S" instead of a hard "C" sound.
Proper pronunciation: ah-sigh-ee.

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Photo by MarleighThose are beignets back there.​Beignet: No one wants Ben-Gay with their chicory coffee. Get this pastry right.
Proper pronunciation: ben-yey. Guanciale: One of the most difficult cured meats to wrap our American lips around, this one is most definitely not pronounced "gwan-see-ale."
Proper pronunciation: WAHN-chall-eh (hear it yourself).
Coppa: Seeing as how there's about to be a restaurant with this name -- it's replacing the now-closed Catalan -- here's your chance to learn how to pronounce this delicious cured meat.
Proper pronunciation: KOH-pa (hear it yourself).
Kibbeh: Although it's tempting to barrel through this one like you're saying "kibble," there's a subtle stop between the two "B"s in this word.
Proper pronunciation: KIB-bay or KIB-beh (hear it yourself)
Sriracha: The red rooster sauce seems be in every refrigerator and in every peppery mayonnaise sauce these days, but people still get confused when trying to say it aloud. Proper pronunciation: According to the official website, it's shree-ra-cha.

Photo by penguincakesBruschetta topped with tomatoes, capers and onions.​Bruschetta: Contrary to popular belief, bruschetta is not a mixture of tomatoes, garlic and onion, nor is it pronounced "broo-shet-uh." It's roasted bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil, topped with any number of different items.
Proper pronunciation: broo-sket-ah. Haricot vert: Upscale restaurants love to use this French term for thin, green string beans, even if they're just serving regular old green beans.
Proper pronunciation: ah-ree-koh VEHR.
Bouillabaisse: Like vichyssoise (vee-shee-swahz), this is a soup that can be difficult for an American to get right. So many consonants
Proper pronunciation: boo-ya-bes.
Jalapeño: How can Texans go so wrong with our own state pepper? It's all right there in the tilde, folks.
Proper pronunciation: hah-luh-peyn-yoh.
Quesadilla: And yet, even with all of the mispronunciations of jalapeño, the butchering of quesadilla stands out even more. Kweez-a-dill-uh? Madre de dios.
Proper pronunciation: key-suh-dee-uh.

20 More Commonly Mispronounced Food Words

Two weeks ago, we ran a list of the 20 most commonly mispronounced food words that we run across day in and day out. You, dear readers, went nuts and proceeded to forward and Facebook the link far and wide in what we can only imagine was a frenzy of "HERE UNCLE FRANK, THIS IS HOW YOU PRONOUNCE QUESADILLA FOR CHRIST'S SAKE"-inspired passion. Thank you for that.
But a list of only 20 words was, naturally, far too short to include some of your other favorite Malaprops or mispronunciations. Many readers left their own suggestions in the comments section.
Said commenter Mississippi Queen: "Someone needs to tell Guy Fieri how to properly pronounce balsamic - he says ba-sal-mic."
And commenter Trisch added even more: "Other mispronunciations I often hear: Mascarpone pronounced as "mars-capone." Ceviche pronounced as "sir-veetch-ee." Peking duck as "peek-ing duck" (and for that matter, the city of Beijing as "bay-zhing"). Paella "pah-eh-ler" (must be a British thing)."
So in the interest of correct pronunciation everywhere, here's a list of 20 more commonly mispronounced words for your parsing pleasure.
As with last time, all pronunciations are taken from the Merriam-Webster dictionary and my super-handy copy of the Food Lover's Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

Photo by Ano LobbStar anise is an important ingredient in many Asian cuisines.​Anise/star anise: These two herbs may share a common name and a similar flavor, but they're actually two different plants entirely. Regardless, the "anise" in both is pronounced the same way.
Proper pronunciation: AN-iss Bouillon: Not to be confused with (or pronounced like) gold bullion, this is a clear, meat- or vegetable-flavored broth that's used as the base of soups and stews.
Proper pronunciation: boo-YAWN
Niçoise: Anything cooked or served à la niçoise simply means that it was done after the style of Nice, France, which usually involves tomatoes, olives, onions and garlic.
Proper pronunciation: nee-SWAHZ, in the simplest sense (that is, without getting into French grammatical genders)
Charcuterie: In its most basic sense, charcuterie refers to the products made from breaking down pork and sometimes beef, products ranging from terrines and rilletes to hard sausages and whole legs of ham.
Proper pronunciation: char-COO-ter-ee (listen to both the English and French pronunciations)
Prosciutto: Speaking of charcuterie, here's one of the art's most popular products. Most prosciutto you see in Houston comes from Italy, the majority of it from San Daniele or Parma. But more and more restaurants are making their own in-house, although it's a very time-consuming process.
Proper pronunciation: proh-SHOO-toh

Photo by AlexThese are macarons.​Macaron/macaroon: Macarons are delicate, meringue-like French pastries made from egg whites and almond powder. Macaroons are dense cookies made from shredded coconut. They are not the same thing, nor are the pronounced the same way.
Proper pronunciation: mahck-eh-rohn (the last syllable should sound like you're about to say "rohng" but dropped the "G" at the last minute)/mack-ah-ROON Mirepoix: An extremely basic mixture of diced carrots, onions and celery sauteed in butter, sometimes with herbs, which is used for anything from making sauces and soups to bedding for a braised piece of meat.
Proper pronunciation: mir-PWAH
Crème fraiche: Despite the fact that is has "fresh" right there in the name, crème fraiche is actually matured, thickened cream with a refreshing, tangy flavor.
Proper pronunciation: krem FRESH
Filé: The hint is in the accent mark for this Cajun thickening powder made with dried, ground sassafras leaves and used in place of (or in addition to) okra in gumbo.
Proper pronunciation: FEE-lay
Mole: On the other hand, there should be an accent mark over the "E" in this word, but there isn't. Just remember that "chicken mole" sounds disgusting, whereas "chicken MOH-lay" sounds delicious.
Proper pronunciation: MOH-lay
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Photo by michelleShrimp étouffée, one of Louisiana's many gifts to the world.​Étouffée: Good; we're back to accent marks. This word comes from the French for "smothered," not "stuffed" as is commonly thought. Hence the dish of shrimp, crawfish or chicken served over a mound of rice, which it's smothering.
Proper pronunciation: ay-too-FAY Hors d'oeuvres: If you find yourself struggling here and saying "whore's doves" or something equally inappropriate, do the smart thing and just call them "appetizers."
Proper pronunciation: or DERV
Jambalaya: This Creole dish can be damn near anything as long as it contains cooked rice, tomatoes, onions, green peppers and some kind of protein: shellfish, chicken, pork, you name it.
Proper pronunciation: juhm-buh-LIE-yah
Boudin: There is no excuse for living in Houston and not knowing how to pronounce "boudin." If you're still struggling, head to one of our great Cajun restaurants like Boudreaux's or MerCheri's and they'll sort you out.
Proper pronunciation: boo-DAN

Photo by Quintana RooJicama and mango salad: Yes, please.​Jicama: Get used to this root vegetable showing up in more and more places as it gains in popularity. And why shouldn't it? With pearly white, crunchy and just barely sweet flesh, it's a far better alternative to celery and makes for great slaw.
Proper pronunciation: HEE-kah-mah Habanero: Because of its close association with another popular Mexican pepper, the jalapeño, this bright orange pepper commonly gets saddled with a tilde it doesn't have.
Proper pronunciation: ah-bah-NEH-roh
Moussaka: If you don't want to bother pronouncing this one correctly, do yourself a favor and just call it "Greek lasagna."
Proper pronunciation: Moo-sah-KAH
Bouillabaisse: This Provençal fish stew is traditionally associated with the port city of Marseille, in France, but its origins are said to go back much further than that to ancient Greece and the Phoceans who first created the recipe.
Proper pronunciation: BOOL-yuh-BAYZ
Tasso: Tasso may often be called "Tasso ham," but its actually created from pork butt -- that is, the shoulder of the pig -- not its leg. See how confusing this all is? It's also not pronounced like "lasso."
Proper pronunciation: TAH-so
Salmon: How can people mispronounce this, this most common and omnipresent of fish? By pronouncing the "L" in the first syllable, as if it were related to salmonellosis (which it most emphatically is not).
Proper pronunciation: SAM-on
Some of you folks can't speak for shit.


well shit the bed


It's My Birthday!
I'm not even gonna attempt to read all those words


Registered User
I fucking mispronounced Quinoa as "QUEEN-AH" for an entire non-profit event in front of 50 or so people, because my wife says it that way. I am an ass, and so is she. It's pronounced "KEEN-WA".


Humor is reason gone mad
I have no idea what Quinoa even is, but I would probably pronounce it "keen-o-wah" if I had to guess.
It bugs the shit out of me when I read a word that I've never heard spoken, and the word could possibly be pronounced different ways. It happens often with street names, surnames, and of course food names. What's worse than wanting to try something on the menu but you are afraid to order it for fear the waiter will laugh out loud when you try to pronounce it?


Registered User
It's very tasty made the right way and is a heavy protein. It will fill you up and give you powerful shits afterwards.


Will Drink Today


I can keep rhythm with no metronome...
I'll be in New Orleans next week. Going to fill up on beignets, alligator and crawfish etoufee along with some shrimp sauce picquante. :)

Surprised andouille wasn't on there.
Oh yeah, can't forget some fucking delicious chicken and andouille gumbo.
I'll be in New Orleans next week. Going to fill up on beignets, alligator and crawfish etoufee along with some shrimp sauce picquante. :)

Oh yeah, can't forget some fucking delicious chicken and andouille gumbo.

Now I'm hungary


You may call me Chef Glub
Someone should make a list of food names mispronounced by ethnics

like scrimps, fil-et mig-non, rizzuto flaful

btw, those are phonetic examples of things I've heard in kitchens I have worked in.

The best though is when you hear a customer talk about something they think they are an expert on but they can't pronounce it right.