43 Most Mispronounced Food Words

When our Albany correspondent Jan Galligan sent us a link to an article in the Chicago Tribune detailing the 10 most mispronounced food words, we decided to do them one better. So we scoured the web (thanks to Yelp and Serious Eats, among others), and our own gray matter, to come up with an expanded list. The list is not definitive, of course, and from time to time we'll add to it.

Our reference has been The International Menu Speller, by Kenneth N. and Lois E. Anderson (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1993), unless we disagreed, and then we provided our own pronunciation. Some of these you may disagree with -- feel free to rat us out!

Basil (bay-zill)
Boudin (the Cajun kind, "Boo-dan")
Bouillabaisse (booyah bahss)
Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah)
Buffet (boo-fay)
Cabernet sauvignon (cabber-nay so-vin-yahwn)
Caramel (car-ah-mel)
Charcuterie (shahr-KOO-tuhr-ee)
Chipotle (chi-poht-lay)
Chorizo (chore-eetz-zo)
Cognac (cone-yack)
Coq au vin (co-ooh-vin)
Crudite (crew-da-tay)
Endive (en-dive)
Escargot (es-car-goh)
Espresso (es-press-o, no ex)
Fajitas (fah-hee-tahs)
Filet or Fillet (fill-ay)
Ghee (ghee, not jee)
Gnocchi (NYOH-kee)
Guacamole (wah-cah-moe-lay)
Gyro (YEER-oh)
Habanero (Hah-bahn-air-oh)
Herb (erb)
Horchata (orrchata, silent h, roll the r)
Hors d'oeuvres (ohr-derves)
Huitlacoche (wheet-lah-KOH-chay)
Mole (MOH-lay)
Muffuletta (MOO-fa-la-Tuh)

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44 comments
xsquid
xsquid

Chorizo (chore-eetz-zo)


Wrong.  It's chore-ees-oh.  In spanish a z is pronounced like an english s.  Source?  I am in mexico and eat a lot of chorizo.  


Habanero (Hah-bahn-air-oh) is also wrong, the H is silent.  More like ah-bahn-air-oh.


The person that wrote this is an idiot.

vlp_1
vlp_1

Herb is Herb, not erb.

dukessa.rega
dukessa.rega

Coq au vin (co-ooh-vin) - NO

sorry guys, but IT IS cock-owe-van (short a in van, barely even the n)

Crudite (crew-da-tay) - NO

crew-DEE-tay

Pinot noir (pee-no nwahr) - YES

someone said it's incorrect. sorry but it is.

Muffuletta (MOO-fa-la-Tuh) - NO

moo-FOO-lay-ttuh (barely the y)

worldtraveler
worldtraveler

Dear Robert, you are terribly terribly wrong in so many of these pronunciations!!!   You should take this article down or correct it as a matter of duty to the human population.  Otherwise I deem you as a terrible person.  Go spend some time in France before you tell people how to pronounce things.  Go spend some time in Japan or Vietnam before you try to say 'sake'  or 'pho'!  You are completely and utterly wrong! If you can't go there, look up the pronunciation of  'coq au vin' PLEASE!!!!  The 'vin' is pronounced 'va' in french.  Your 'pinot' is wong, Your 'nicoise' is wrong.  Your 'buffet' is wong.  You have completely butchered most of the words you listed!  'Sake' is pronounced 'sa-keh' and 'pho' is 'fo'.  Do the right thing for society and correct your bastardization of our food language.  Thank you.

ben
ben

Your pronunciation of "chorizo" is patently wrong. It's a Spanish word, and as such as two pronunciations:

chor-ees-sochor-eeth-o

That's it. Never "chor-eetz-o." What a retarded list.

????
????

Good read. There is currently quite a lot of information around this subject on the net and some are most defintely better than others. You have caught the detail here just right which makes for a refreshing change � thanks.

????
????

Good read. There is currently quite a lot of information around this subject on the net and some are most defintely better than others. You have caught the detail here just right which makes for a refreshing change � thanks.

Ash
Ash

Checca (KE-kka)Pad Thai (pod tie)Sake (sah-kay)Mille-feuille (mill foy)

Jaybone
Jaybone

Yeah, I've got an issue with "co-ooh-vin" as well. You're telling me EVERYBODY on The Food Network and The Travel Channel is WRONG when they pronounce it sorta like this:"coke-oh-van"?or maybe:"coke-oh-vahn"?Either way, they're far from the pronunciation suggested in the list!

msparksls
msparksls

Love the dish, can't pronounce it - pot au feu

bo
bo

Chorizo (chore-eetz-zo)incorrect. it's not italian, it's spanish. in latin america it's pronounced chaw-ree-soh, in spain chaw-ree-thaw.

Paella (pie-aye-ya)incorrect. it's pronounced pah-eh-yah

otherwise thanks for a useful guide.

Kate
Kate

Let's try Nicoise again. Nee-swahz.

Kate
Kate

French restaurants are hard for people, I know. Frites (freet), haricots verts (ar-i-co vare), and Nicoise (nee-soise) were probably the most mispronounced in my serving days. If only everything could be as easy as speck. Good old speck. You guys could do most misspelled words on menus... total peeve of mine. Let me know, I'll send you some ideas. :)

ralphie
ralphie

the one that gets me is caprese. i've always wondered how you pronounce that word.

lxfan
lxfan

Broccoli rabe, anyone? (I know the first part.)

Jason
Jason

"co-ooh-vin"? Try again buddy.

timeforthyme
timeforthyme

you've never heard it pronouced yeeh-ro? i shudder everytime i hear it pronounced a different way

"You're right, Ditka, I've never ever heard it pronounced "yeeh-ro," but apparently that's the Greek pronunciation."

gluttonforlife
gluttonforlife

I'm with Sean. What's with the t in chorizo? The Spaniards pronounce the z like th, the rest of the Hispanics like an s, so maybe you should get that gringo t outta there. And you don't roll the r in horchata.

Sean
Sean

Some of these have regional variations, others could use a little more linguistic authenticity.

If you want to be more correct with the French pronunciations, bwee-ya-behs (bouillabaisse), boof-feh (buffet), co-ko-va (coq au vin -- the nasal "i" is not analogous in English, but it's kinda like the a in cat), crew-dee-TEH (crudit� on-deev (endive), fee-leh (filet), pwee-wee-fwee-seh (Pouilly-Fuiss�

In Italian, double consonants are pronounced, so nyock-kee for gnocchi, but that's a quibble.

The single z in chorizo softens it; you'll more commonly hear it s cho-ree-zo, or in Castillian, cho-ree-tho.

In England, Worcestershire is pronounced just "wooster" even when referring to the sauce. And yes, the Brits also pronounce the H in herb.

Wendy R
Wendy R

Yes, Tina, I was shocked "mascarpone" wasn't on the list! SO many chefs mispronounce it...drives me crazy!

Jen
Jen

Love the list, but feel almost certain you are wrong about Coq au vin. You should definitely hear a "q" sound - like Coke ooh vin.

Danny
Danny

i hit up Merriam-Webster's site for pronunciation of "buffet" and there's two. one sounds more like "buff" and the other sounds more like "boo" so i think there's two correct ones.

Tina
Tina

My favorite is mascarpone (mas-CAR-poh-ney) NOT (mar-ska-pone). Notice where the 'R' is in the word. NOTICE IT!! I've heard people who call themselves chefs pronounce that one wrong on television.

Ditka
Ditka

I am so glad that Enrique is in the tamal camp. This is one of my greatest peeves.

What about pecan?

Enrique Limon
Enrique Limon

Not so much mispronounced but always misspelled: TAMALE. The singular is tamal people, no e. Tamales for plural, yes.

rsietsema
rsietsema

You're right, Ditka, I've never ever heard it pronounced "yeeh-ro," but apparently that's the Greek pronunciation.

Ditka
Ditka

YEEH-ro. Certainly in Chicago, but all I get are blank stares when I say it in NYC. "Oh, you mean a JHAI-ro?"

rsietsema
rsietsema

Thanks, Gretchen. I'm adding it to our list, which I just discovered has only 42 words.

Gretchen VanEsselstyn
Gretchen VanEsselstyn

Habanero. People tend to think that the n has a tilde, and pronounce it haban-yero. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Habanero is correct.

kim
kim

I don't trust Martha. She purposely accent on the vowels or just attempt to make herself sound 'regal'.

rsietsema
rsietsema

And there are regional variations in pronunciation, too. Brits say "herb" with an aspirated "h", and so does Martha Stewart

kim
kim

Maybe I'm just dumb, but I still have trouble pronouncing some of them. Times when I can't pronounce the food words (especially French words), I just point to the menu and said, "I want this one". lol

gshiffrar
gshiffrar

@dukessa.rega  noir is nwah,  not nwahr.  it shouldn't rhyme with Gwar.   the french n is hard to explain to americans because they over pronounce everything loudly, like they are always talking to someone on the other side of a the room.  in americanese its easier to just say va because trying to teach them how to pronounce something subtly is impossible.  

geebus
geebus

coq is shorter than coke, but its as close as i can think, just swallow 1/2 of it. coke ah vah would be really close, the n is almost not there on vin.  but co-ooh-vin is really off, as is trying to put an r on the the end of pinot noir.  the spanish ones for chorizo and paella are as bad. i have never heard the r rolled on horchata, but i am no expert on mexican spanish. 

dukessa.rega
dukessa.rega

pot-ow-phoe

i cant spell exactly the french 'eu' in english, the sound is a very specific one, however that's the closest i can think of

dukessa.rega
dukessa.rega

kah-pray-say.

pray and say, cut both to the 'a'.

adrian.apodaca
adrian.apodaca

He also makes it a point of removing the "h" sound in horchata but fails to mention that one should also remove the "h" sound in habanero...le sigh. 

gshiffrar
gshiffrar

@skida @fromasia @worldtraveler i have heard it pronounced correctly and its almost like there is an extra syllable at the end from the inflection, it takes a turn at the end when you are pronouncing it.  i don't know anything about vietnamese, but i think fua is closer than fuh, especially the way americans will pronounce fuh with a hard h.  I was taught it comes from the french feu, so i use that as a guide. 

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