Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: The "Language: It's What's For Dinner" Edition

Words are making me Crabby this week. Maybe I need to get away from this Editing Gig for a little while. Yesterday, I saw a license plate that read LOOSNUP. I immediately dropped my shoulders and exhaled deeply. Then that car started dropping its speed and swerving deeply. As I hurriedly passed it, I saw its very, very loose driver with her glasses perched on the tip of her nose and her tablet/Kindle propped on her steering wheel. I TITNDUP all over again.

But onto My Mission, and it is Restaurant/Menu Words.

I am stymied and annoyed at how lazy and sad many restaurants are about their menus. This is, after all, the first way they communicate their culinary image to the customer. Lots of small restaurants just don't give a lot of consideration to that. Or spelling, actually.

Here is a menu for an independent restaurant not too awfully far from where I live and where Rick used to go and meet his buddies from his former job. Its menu contains a few Sadnesses: French Dip "served with a side of au jus"; Shrimp Po Boy, described as "Blackened shrimp, romaine lettuce and bistro sauce served on a Cajun cheddar cheese baked hoagie", and one which makes me want to shred my eyeballs, their "Chicken South Of The Boarder" sandwich.

Then they make the Mistakes Involving The B-Word, and they beat it up hard. I'm just happy that I don't go there and hear the waitress and guests actually SAY the B-Word, inevitably MISPRONOUNCE IT, and then have to sit there and try to Live Through It All.


 Broo. SKET. Uh.

Here is a handy visual.  It is my pleasure, really:

via greatist.com

Thank you. And now, if people could just learn what it is. Bruschetta is THE BREAD. It's not a mixture of tomatoes and herbs. It's the charred or toasted bread. IT'S THE BREAD. BR = BREAD AND BRUSCHETTA. SK IS LIKE BASKET. BRUSCHETTA--BREAD BASKET. OR SOMETHING. ANYTHING TO HELP PEOPLE REMEMBER.  HELP ME TO HELP THEM.



Here is the Entree inspiring my despair:

*Chicken Bruschetta Dinner

(2) Grilled chicken breasts smothered in fresh mozzalla served with asparagus, Baby baked potatoes topped with tomato bruschetta, pesto +a balsamic glaze

Oh my god.  So much despair.

1. Mozzalla? And is just the mozzalla served with the asparagus, or is the chicken, too?
2. And is it the Baby baked potatoes that are topped with the bread and tomatoes, pesto + a balsamic glaze?
3. Why is anything covered in bread?
4. Is Baby a brand of potatoes or the name of the person who baked them, or what?

And so much BREAD. Consider this appetizer:

Mozzarella Bruschetta

Freshly breaded and fried mozzarella served on a French baguette with homemade pesto and tomato bruschetta topped with a balsamic glaze

(Apparently, the mozzalla is not a good complement to the baguette.) That, my friends, is a bigass appetizer. Fried cheese + a baguette + pesto (not the homemade for this dish; it is unworthy!) + tomatoes + bread + glaze. I would think it is shareable.  And bready.

In their defense, this "Bruschetta Chicken" misnomer is not unique to them. It is a widespread phenomenon, like saying "irregardless" (NOT A WORD) or pronouncing "Reese's" of peanut butter cup fame "Ree-sees" (WRONG; ALWAYS WRONG). All you have to do is go to Red Robin and order it there, or search for one of the 3.3 million recipes for it on the Internet. That doesn't make it Okay, though; just because a lot of people do something doesn't validate it or make it correct.

You know? ;-)

Feed me full of your Wonderfulness in Comments.

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  1. OMG. Just saying...I can't go to Red Robin...been there twice, never again. No wonder everyone is over weight (i.e. FAT).

    1. Vera--Rick loves Red Robin regardless of their buy-in on incorrect menu items.

    2. My Great Aunt highly recommends the Bailey's milkshake. Shudder for me, but yummy for her.

    3. Rick would eat huge, sloppy cheeseburgers for every single meal if he could. He is tall, trim, and reasonably active, but due in no small part to the fact that I don't make big sloppy cheeseburgers at home. RR is his indulgence once in a while.

      He does, however, know how to pronounce bruschetta. Thank god for that, for both of us.

  2. "Chicken South Of The Boarder" Now you're making an assumption there. How do you know, for sure, that there isn't a person who boards at this restaurant, then places a chicken below himself, thus making it south of the boarder? I'm just saying...

    I gave up on restaurant menus when a new restaurant opened in town and insisted on spelling the last word in its name Shoppe instead of Shop. To this day, I find that ridiculous.

    1. Ally Bean--I suppose anything is possible. Your description is ... icky, though.

      Yeah, I don't get the supposed Charm of spelling things in a faux Olde Fashionde Waye. It's goofy.

  3. Wikipedia has a handy note regarding au jus, just for you:
    Misuse as noun
    In the United States, the phrase 'au jus' is often used as a noun, owing to its having been corrupted in culinary references into the noun form: rather than a 'sandwich au jus', the menu may read 'sandwich with au jus". Did you write that for them?

    When I worked at Mr. Steak, there was a steak on the menu called the petite cut. One patron had never seen the word before, and asked for a 'pet - eyet' cut. Like petting your eye, I guess. Pretty funny. He was young, and on a date, so I did not correct him, but when I brought it out to him, I said, "here's your petite cut", so he would know how to say it in the future. Not that I was always that diplomatic. I regret joking to a customer once that she might want to lick the plate. Her daughters laughed, but she did not. It was one of those moments when I wished I could just rewind and do it over again correctly, because I would HATE it if someone said that to me.

    1. J@jj--I did not write that over at Wikipedia. The last thing I ever did over there was to insert myself as a Certain Celebrity's Wife a few times, just for fun, and wait for editors to catch it. That was about a hundred years ago. I am a Real Grownup Now and don't do that sort of thing anymore.

      I am a fan of Correcting By Pronouncing Correctly Without Comment. It doesn't have to lead to embarrassment and can still educate.

      And I'm sure your comment to that customer was not meant maliciously.

    2. LOL that you fibbed on Wiki! I never would have expected that of you, but really, I should have.

      My comment was not meant maliciously, you are correct. Just gentle ribbing. But I think it hurt her feelings, and I regret it.

  4. Yeah, but "chopped tomatoes and herbs" doesn't sound as fancy.

    I would like to eat that bread in your header photo. I love bread. Too much, most likely.

    1. Mmmm, bread. Right there with you.

    2. Gina--Fancy rather than accurate. Often the Curse Of High School Writing.

      I am a bread junkie, too. When we go to Cleveland's West Side Market, we hit the bread stands first.

  5. Yuck.
    My favourite menu disaster was seen in Quebec and it said "French Frites". There was an acute on the E in frites, but I am not sure how to find it in Google comments without rejigging my keyboard.
    Canada is a wonderful place to find translation errors, but we do know how to place 'au jus'. It might be the only French we remember from school though.

    1. Mary--What is all that white space up there in your comment? It's quite hijacked the Comments area. LOL! You need to get your iPad typing skills under control.

      French frites is at best redundant and at worst a perhaps sad attempt to help clueless and boorish American tourists. As far as the term au jus, why do restaurants even bother with it? If it's a French Dip, everyone knows what that means.

    2. My mouse had a nervous breakdown. I think (hope) I have cured it.

  6. I wish I had your phone number so I you could be my language guru when I'm writing. No kidding.

    I belly-laughed at the 'south of the boarder' on the menu. My school teacher great-niece who teaches advanced English corrects signs like that when ever she sees them.

    1. Jean--That could be arranged; however, I am already doing so gratis for so many people that it is slowly becoming a full-time job, and I feel like a patsy.

      Oh, if I could but correct that menu! Alas, it is online, and as I said, I do not go there to dine. I'm glad to know that a fellow Defender Of The Language is out there holding down another fort for me in your quadrant of the globe.

  7. I could have written this post (not as charmingly, but the raw materials are all there in my brain.) Apparently we have similar pet peeves, because as soon as I read your opening sentence, I immediately thought, 'Oh, I am MOST definitely going to make a comment about the bastardisation of the phrase, 'au jus' when I finish reading this.' Great Minds and all that, so, obviously, I don't need to do it, but I just want you to know that was my very first thought. As far as bruschetta goes, I have listened to people call it 'broo-SHETT-uh' for years and can't bring myself to correct them, although plenty of THEM have no compunction whatsoever about correcting ME. I have to admit to a certain amount of evil satisfaction derived when earnest well-meaning people gently point out my linguistic misstep and I either: A) ask the Italian food server to decide who's right (most satisfying) or: B) pull out my smartphone and prove my point with an audio file (also satisfying, but less so than A.) (although I should say that people who know me well really never argue with me about linguistics - it's almost always new acquaintances or strangers.) I even double-checked this with the Italian manager of the charity bookshop where I volunteer. (I really do need to write a post about this place - it's as close to heaven as one can get, I think) I told her I was surprised that so many people still pronounced it incorrectly and she she just rolled her eyes and said, "You know, at some point, we just stop correcting people. It doesn't help anyway." I have to say one of the good things about living so close to Europe is that most of the Italian restaurants we go to are, in fact, actually owned and run by Italians, which means I have not run across the use of 'bruschetta' as a topping when what they really mean is, 'chopped tomatoes and basil.' But I can assure you that I will be looking for it, now that I know it's out there. Just a fun fact to know and share, since we're on Foreign Food Words and their Mispronunciation: Did you know that, in the UK, people pronounce 'filet' as 'FILL-it'? So if you are ordering a steak, you say, 'I'll have the 'FILL-it' not, "I'll have the fee-LAY.'(and, yes, I tried sticking to my guns and pronouncing it correctly a few times, but that almost always earns you a blank and confused look from the food server and ends up with you pointing to the menu, after which they say heartily, "OH, you want the FILLit!" Right!") I find this very odd coming from a people who all seem to spend all their summer holidays in France, all learn French in school, and whose histories and populations have been intertwined for centuries. It would actually make lots more sense to me if Americans were the ones butchering the French pronunciation - along with pronouncing 'merlot' as 'MUH-low' and 'pasta' as 'PAsta ('a' sound as in 'hat'). No idea why this is not the case, but, as with most things in England, they can get away with it because of the charming accent.

    1. MsCaroline--I KNOW! What is up with the whole Fill-it thing, except for the persistent and frustrating proclivity of the British for NOT ever putting the accent on second syllables? Is it just because, to steal a line from a film, "British policies make the world England"?

      I applaud you, and heartily, for sticking to your French and American and CORRECT pronunciations when you order. Although tiresome, I would likely continue to do it and be the one looking blankly and confusedly at them, adding sometimes a sad little shake of the head. Bless them.

      Bless us all.

    2. MsCaroline's Filet connundrum reminds me of an experience Ted and I had long ago in the Central Valley. Perhaps we were driving up to Portland, I don't remember for sure, but we went to lunch or dinner or something, and Ted ordered a salad with his meal, with Italian dressing. The waitress couldn't figure out what he meant by Italian dressing, until she somehow deciphered his accent (sarcasm there, he has no accent, is Californian just like me, and also just like the waitress) and said in delight, "Oh, you mean EYE-Talian!" (that was very difficult to write, my spell check did not want to allow it, and only submitted when I let it keep the capital T.)

  8. I pass a nail salon every day on my way to and from work and a sign in the window states: "Gift cetificates avaiable." I've stopped looking at it, because it really irritates the crap out of me.

    1. Bridget--But...you KNOW it's there.

  9. As an unofficial — self-described — supporter of all those committed to creating new words and speech variations. I enjoyed reading what you’ve written here. No wonder you can’t nap! *grin*

    1. joared--I don't mind people creating new words which are useful and fun. What I DO mind are those who ruin the existing words which are working just fine already. :-)


Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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