Fancy Names Don’t Make Food Better

Image: Public Domain, Morguefile
Image: Public Domain, Morguefile

I watch a fair amount of Food Network. I like to cook, and I like learning about new foods and new cooking techniques. However, I’ve seen an odd thing, and it really makes me wonder.

Why are they giving fancy names to non-fancy food? Is it a way to justify charging more, because if you knew what it was you’d never pay that much? Is it just aristocratic nonsense? Are they trying to make people feel stupid, or just get one over on us?

Have you ever had “haricot verts”? Sounds fancy, right? They’re green beans. That’s all, nothing more. But you’ll pay about twice as much for haricot verts at a “specialty” food store or restaurant. Have you ever had “Huitlacoche“? It’s corn mold. I’m serious here. Someone thought eating corn mold was a good idea and worth charging a mint for. I’ll pass.

Have you ever enjoyed a plate of “poulet rôti “? Sure you have, it’s fried chicken. Actually, it’s 2 mouthfuls of fried chicken that costs $12. Of course one must have “foie gras” , because not many people are going to order duck liver if you put that on a menu. Oh, and be sure to “chiffonade” your leek, because cutting it in strips isn’t good enough. And you better be up on your “engastration”, because that is how we get Turducken after all.

I’ve noticed most of the pretentious names are French too. I try not to be racist or have stereotypes, but there’s got to be some reason for that. Maybe Americans think using French makes them sound cooler somehow. I wonder if the French people are rolling their eyes at us. They probably are.

The simple fact is, putting a fancy or foreign name on something doesn’t make it taste better. It still is what it is. And people need to stop being duped into spending extra money on common or unpleasant foods just because they have “cool” names.

What fancy names have you seen that were really just common foods, or unpleasant foods made to sound nice? Have you seen fancy technique names used to make people think food is fancier than it is?

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