John Davies is a senior corporate partner at leading commercial law firm Thrings. Each month he addresses a topical news or business-related issue. This time John takes inspiration for his rantings from BBC One TV show MasterChef.
Right. In recent months we’ve covered things like Brexit, grammar, and the socio-political events of 2015. I think we can afford a month off from the deep stuff.
This month I want to rant, just a little bit, about annoying food terminology. I’ve been watching MasterChef and although I have admiration for the contestants and the food they’ve been cooking, I’m falling off the sofa with frustration at the ‘foodie’ lexicon.
As a nation we seem to have raised the concept of food to a level that sits somewhere above politics, religion – even life and death. The Great British Bake Off, Great British Menu and, of course, MasterChef. If that’s what we as a nation want then that’s fine but let’s not go over the top. As the importance of food has grown, so too has our obsession with fancy-dan words. In truth it means that when I’m in a restaurant, half the time I’ve got no idea what I’ve ordered.
There are occasions when I understand why the food industry uses strange terminology, for example sweetbreads. Sounds lovely eh? Lamb sweetbreads I suspect will always outsell lamb glands. I get that, however.
Come on. Sous-vide. Sous-vide! As far as I can tell sous-vide is boil in the bag. I bet you never realised when you were growing up that your cod in parsley sauce was being cooked sous-blinkin-vide. And don’t get me started on jus. It’s gravy! It just costs more in a restaurant. Come on John and Greg – an Aussie and a Londoner spouting coulis here, and gnash there. I think if I’d said to my parents “please could you pass the jus” over Sunday lunch they’d have been stunned.
Bane-marie? Water bath. Consommé? Clear soup. Commis chef? Apprentice. Bouquet garni? Bunch of herbs. It’s ridiculous – next time just sit back on the sofa and listen carefully. Take it all in. Half the time they’re pronouncing it incorrectly and it’s making my blood boil / simmer / stew.
There, rant over. Am I alone? Do you care? Is it just me?
Oh, and one last thing. Al Dente was a bloke I went to school with.
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