Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Before You Go On the Food Network…

Before you go on any Food Network program, it would serve you well to learn how to properly pronounce some commonly-used words in the culinary field.  While you’re at it, you could have a go at learning to pronounce “culinary” as well, but I’ve given up holding my breath on that one. 

However, there are some things I’m not quite ready to give up the fight on yet.  And I am really fucking tired of hearing so-called culinary “experts” constantly mispronounce the following:

Mascarpone – There are days when I swear if I hear one more person say “MARZ-ka-pone”, I will just douse my television in truffle oil, set it on fire and throw it out of a ninth-floor window.  It is pronounced “mas-kar-PO-nay”.  Why is this so difficult?  Why do I hear twelve people pronounce this incorrectly for every one that gets it right?  If you need a helpful hint, LOOK AT WHERE THE ‘R’ IS IN THE WORD.  Last time I checked, rules of Italian pronunciation did not include “if ‘r’ follows the second vowel, it should be sounded before the preceding two consonants”.  Those rules do, however, include pronouncing all vowels.  I know it’s not always easy for an English-trained brain to see an ‘e’ at the end of a word and think it’s there for anything other than garnish, but in Italian, there are no silent letters.  So say your ‘nay’.

Chipotle – If Jack-in-the-Box commercials can get this right, all you fine dining experts have no excuse.  It’s “cheh-POHT-lay”.  Not “chee-POL-tee” or “cheh-POL-tay”.  Again, a none-too-subtle hint, LOOK AT WHERE THE ‘T’ IS IN THE WORD.

Mozzarella – The most common, and to me least understandable, mispronunciation of this word is people simply forgetting that it ends with an ‘a’.  Was the final number at that concert you went to the other night performed a capell?  Is that bone in your knee a patell?  When it looks like rain, do you grab your umbrell?  Do you cringe every time your toddler insists yet again on watching her DVD of Cinderell?  Then why do you think you’re cooking with mozzarell?

Quinoa – I’m willing to cut people a bit more slack on this one just because it is kind of odd looking to an English-trained brain; however, it’s still not that difficult.  It’s pronounced “keen-wah”, slight emphasis on the first syllable.  I won’t throw a flaming truffle oil-soaked television at you if you don’t get it right all the time, but please at least make the effort.


  1. Remind me to buy you a punching bag with "Bad Grammar" written across..

    Looks like I know what you're getting for Christmas!

  2. I'm with you on everything but "mozzarel"...That's a northeast thing. In fact, depending on what part of New York or New Jersey you're in, you might hear it pronounced "moo tsarel".

    We also call Capicola "Gabba-gool" and Mortadella "Mortadel" well as calling Hamburger "Hamburg". Linguistically it's a fun trip down Sicilian + Italian + Brooklyn Lane.

    1. Okay, we'll agree to compromise on this one. The northeast pronunciation quirk is one I can accept. It's when I hear people on food television who trill the r's like hormone-overloaded songbirds at the first sign of a Spring thaw, then roll the l's clear into the next room, and THEN conveniently forget to pronounce the "a" at the end of the word, that I have a problem.

    2. You know what I hate on Food Network? Aaron Sanchez. Every last damned thing is dear to his heart on Chopped, and he always mentions how poorly this darling cactus was treated by dressing it with olive oil. For freak's sake, it's a prickly pear. Get over it.

      And yourself.

      Sorry. I just have a personal thing against that cry baby's cry babyness.

    3. Aaron Sanchez used to rub me the wrong way too, until I got to see him cook. And that's proven to be the case with a lot of Food Network people. I see them as judges or in a non-cooking setting, and something about them will just bug the CRAP out of me. But then I see them in an actual kitchen situation and my perception is drastically altered. Aaron Sanchez was one of those, Geoffrey Zakarian, Amanda Frietag, Marcus Samuelsson, there's a whole list. I'm really looking forward to the new season of 'Chopped All-Stars' for that very reason, because Chris Santos and Marc Murphy still annoy me occasionally and I really want to like them wholeheartedly ;)

      (and if you're in a generous mood and want to give it a view, Aaron Sanchez is pretty hilarious on 'Heat Seekers')

    4. OK, you got me. I felt the same way about Samuelsson until I saw him on The Next Iron Chef. I still don't like the way they market him as "Norwegian", though. I mean, I know his culinary style, but he's Ethiopian...and they're playing up his blackness with that Harlem show. I know he has nothing to do with the executive decisions, but it still bugs me.

      Speaking of Zakarian, he did impress me with his cooking, but his personality is still very binary. Great chef, TV personality...not so much. I really wish Anne Burrell had won The Next Iron Chef. I love that woman.

    5. Count me as another Burrell fan, but while she's a kick-ass cook her greatest asset is her humanity. She's a teacher, she's emotional, and those traits are wasted in Kitchen Stadium.