Wake Up Call

Food Words You Shouldn't Use, According to New York Times Critics Past and Present

If you ask Ruth Reichl about what words you can, or rather, should, and shouldn't use to talk about food, she would tell you:

"'Yummy' is not a word that's respectful to food. It's like baby talk."

Or at least that what's she says in a recent New York Times video. And given that she's the former editor of Gourmet magazine, restaurant critic for the New York Times, and restaurant editor for the Los Angeles Times, we're not going to bother arguing with her on that one. But that's not the only word that New York Times critics don't want you to use in reference to food. In fact, the paper's restaurant critics have a laundry list of no-no words that includes everything from "eatery" (really?) to "studded" (okay, maybe we can give you that one).

See also: 9 Ways to Keep From Making an Ass Out of Yourself as a Food Critic

Sam Sifton, who was dining editor at the Times from 2001 to 2004, makes the case that while "crispy" isn't even a word and shouldn't be used, "crisp" is acceptable. "Toothsome" is also a no-go.

The video even includes some input from the paper's current restaurant critic Pete Wells (with his face concealed by a newspaper). His list of overused words includes "rich" and "crunchy" and "all of the words that describe food on a basic level."

So what word do these critics like?

Reichl describes "delicious" as "wonderful."

Go figure.

See also: Laurie Notaro's Eight Food(ie) Terms Past Their Expiration Dates

The video is just one of a series of New York Time's videos called the "At The Critics' Table." They feature Ruth Reichl, William Grimes, Frank Bruni, Sam Sifton, and current critic Pete Wells talking shop about going incognito, foods they won't eat and how they make decisions about assigning those precious stars.

So, what words do you hate to hear describing food?

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Lauren Saria
Contact: Lauren Saria