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6) The Food is Housemade

The next few items don’t relate to French culinary terminology, but enough already with some of the superfluous and downright hyperbolic verbiage found on menus. Housemade seems to be a popular term on menus, as opposed to what? Housemade is a restaurant’s way of saying the food is homemade–actually made in house. Restaurants are touting the fact that they are making the food in the kitchen, which is their job in the first place! Why dine in a restaurant if the food comes from a can or a freezer? You can stay at home and eat that kind of crap. Duh!

7) Infuse This!

Food that has been infused with this or that has been a popular trend for a last decade or so. You know what I’m talking about. Rosewater-infused sorbet. Chervil-infused veloute. Star anise-infused syrup. The list goes on and on. Infused simply means that a sauce has been seasoned (or slowly steeped) with a particular ingredient, not some intricate process that’s done in a laboratory. I’m not negating the fact that there is an actual infusion of flavors when you steep fragrant star anise into syrup, but restaurants should tell the truth about the process instead of creating a mystique about something so fundamental. What’s next? Garlic-infused aioli?

8) Mashed Red Potatoes Three Ways

I understand that it’s important for chefs to stay away from repetition when writing menus. But call the food what it is and don’t attempt to label the same items with different names in order to avoid redundancies–it only confuses diners. I recently saw a menu that listed mashed red potatoes with three different names: red-skinned mashed potatoes, new potato mashers, and mashed red potatoes–all of them being the same thing. Let’s face it, this kind of verbiage borders on ridiculous, and, unfortunately, you see it all the time.

9) Alaska’s Organic Waters

There are definite advantages to eating organic food, yet when you pop open a menu and see salmon and sushi listed as organic, it kind of leaves you scratching your head. My friend recently returned from New York City, where she saw “organic salmon” on many menus there. Being a Seattleite, and a chef, she really knows the nuances of salmon–both wild and farm-raised. But when she inquired about this claim to the waiter, he said something like, “This salmon comes from the organic waters of Alaska.” She got a kick out of this blatant ignorance, which is totally absurd, not to mention incredibly misleading.

10) Farm-to-Table. Cool

The recent trend of farm-to-table restaurants in America is impressive, if the chefs are actually sourcing their products (and hanging out with the farmers and ranchers) from local and regional farms within close proximity to the restaurant. Yet some chefs are taking liberties with the term by calling their food “farm-to-table” when the food products actually just come from a large distributor. At some point in time, most food was grown or raised on a farm, but that doesn’t give people the right to call it farm-to-table cuisine. In other words: don’t be duped by this cool-sounding term without some investigation into the truthfulness of the claim.

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