You say potato, I say potahto…

Dictionary entries

We’ve all been there, intently reading a recipe, when suddenly a foreign word or unfamiliar ingredient causes us to pause because we don’t know how to pronounce it. If you are like me, you sound out the word in your head and use that pronunciation going forward. Then you hear a famous chef say the word, and you realize that the voice in your head is really bad at French…and Italian, and Spanish, and frequently even English. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

The Guardian recently produced an excellent piece on mispronounced food words, and I admit that I have mispronounced some of the words described in the article. But apparently I’m in good company, because as Richard Ehrlich (chairman of the Guild of Food Writers) explains, “One of the most eminent chefs of modern times doesn’t pronounce daube correctly.” He does not identify the chef, but knowing that even professionals stumble on pronunciation makes me feel better.  The Guardian’s list of mispronounced words is fairly short, but Buzzfeed provides an expanded list.

Don’t be chagrined if you are stumped by how to correctly say these words: even the writers of the articles can’t agree on which pronunciation is correct. The Guardian advocates a different pronunciation for sriracha than iVillage does in its list: see-rah-cha versus shree-ra-cha. Buzzfeed disagrees with iVillage on how to say gyro: yeer-ho, says one, jeer-o says the other. That discord makes me even more hesitant to order the endive or Niçoise salad. And I will never order the mille feuille. 

Here are top-rated recipes for frequently mispronounced words from the Eat Your Books library: 

Smoky chipotle salsa with pan-roasted tomatillos
Smoked lamb gyro
Quick sriracha beef lettuce wraps
Oxtail daube (Daube de queue de boeuf)
Penne with tomatoes, chorizo and cream
Chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice

What food word pronunciations vex you? (Luckily, you only have to type them.)

Post a comment


  • Lindsay  on  February 13, 2014

    If anyone can give me an authoritative answer on "Pho" that would be great – I've heard "Foo" and "Fah"

  • Christine  on  February 13, 2014

    Seems I've been mispronouncing gyro for a very long time — I don't know if I've ever even heard it said correctly, come to think of it! I've always wondered how to say açai too, so good to know.

  • boardingace  on  February 13, 2014

    This is embarrassing, but I can never remember how to say gyro; I guess I don't order it enough…

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