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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

September 1, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Say what? Menu-speak: It’s a foreign language, readers say

Recently, Seattle Times restaurant critic Providence Cicero got a dressing down from a reader regarding Providence’s rave review of Hitchcock. Here’s a taste of the rant:

I think I am a pretty sophisticated diner but I shouldn’t have to look up every other word to find out what you are saying. “What normally sauces gnocchi became a dazzling intermezzo ‘macchiato’.” Strange to say the least. “The lasagna noodles clumped together despite the brodo.” (I can’t even find that word in a dictionary). Or how about “fregola sarda pasta” which you preferred “fregola-free.”

Funny: It reminded me of the time I got a phone call from another reader with a similar complaint. Rather than respond privately, as Providence did, I responded publicly with my 2006 column “Say what? A guide to menu-speak.”

While I’m out on assignment during the coming weeks, I’ll offer up a look back at some previously published columns and blog-posts I (immodestly) suggest are worth a second look. Among them, that mini user’s-guide (read it here).

[Seattle Times illustration by Julie Notarianni (2006)]

Perhaps it’s time to update it in a future blog-post? Feel free to comment below, asking for an explanation of any unidentifiable food word you’ve come across on local menus. P.S. If you’re fortunate enough to be dining at Cafe Juanita this week, as I was, do try the “Carne Cruda of Blackmore Wagyu with Crostini,” but don’t tell the waiter “I’d like my steak tartare medium-rare” — OK?

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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


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