Just got this question: "Does it irk you when people mispronounce food items? Or, what food items do you still have trouble pronouncing?"
Sure, it irks me a tiny bit, when I'm at a nice restaurant and the person botching the pronunciation is my waiter. But if it's coming from a friend, I really don't care.
One word that always sticks out is bruschetta. Do you say it with a soft "sh" sound, or a hard "k" sound? I prefer the latter, although one time I actually looked it up and either pronunciation is acceptable.
I still don't understand how people pronounce mascarpone as if it's spelled marscapone. To hear it is like listening to a typo.
One dear friend of mine says lovacore instead of locavore. She's said it too many times to count, and now it seems like an endering quirk -- sort of a combination of "love" and "hardcore."
You already know about my unfair advantage with pronouncing Japanese words. Mispronunciations abound, but the one that bugs me is for sake. It's not sah-kee, it's sah-keh. I think this annoys me because I associate it with "sah-kee bombers" and the people who pound them.
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A funny sidenote: I have intentionally mispronounced things at Japanese restaurants just so I don't get too much attention.
And to answer that second question, hmm. I try really hard to get pronunciations right because I'm just a geek with a love for different cultures. It's fun to order the dish in a foreign language. Been trying to work on my Vietnamese inflection for when I order bun cha gio thit nuong . . . but practice makes perfect.
It's also a good excuse to eat noodles.
Got a question for the critic? Email me at michele dot laudig at newtimes dot com