Most unpronounceable menu items: Top 5
There are certain things you just don't want to order on, say, a first date, or at your first happy hour with with new co-workers, or with that friend who always nails you for your pretentious food knowledge. Don't fret. Most maddeningly named menu items are French, and no one knows how to pronounce them (except maybe French people). Many other intimidating menu items are in other languages as well, so no one can really fault you too much for stumbling over--or all out slaughtering--them but some pop up pretty frequently and name things that you really don't want to forgo. Here's our Top 5, along with an attempt to rectify future mispronunciation:
Don't overlook it just because of its heinous-seeming name. A hearty combo of eggs, tuna, potatoes and olives over a bed of lettuce and veg, including, notably, green beans, nicoise salad is do-not-miss. Just remember to pronounce the "s" in nicoise like a "z:" It's like knee-swaz, with the accent on the second syllable. Similar, related frustration: the Belgian lambic beer framboise. It's pronounced the same as the latter end of nicoise.
George W. Bush notoriously believed a Canadian comic posing as a reporter when he exchanged then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien's last name with "Poutine"--the popular and fantastically delicious Canadian french fries + cheese curds + brown gravy dish. It's unclear how, exactly, to say the word "poutine", though it may or may not be pronounced the same as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's last name (the French spell both words the same way), like "poo-TEEN," though others disagree. No matter how you say it, you should order it any and every time you see it on a menu (maybe unless you're in Canada).
You're not going to find yourself in a position to order cornichons on their own much. Frequently they just arrive as garnish. But if you do end up at a place that for some reason offers a plate of the adorable little pickles, the name is fortunately basically pronounced phonetically. The only difference is you say "sh" in place of the "ch." You can also just say "gherkin" if you're still feeling intimidated (pretend the "h" isn't there.)
Present company excluded, how many people do you think point rather than say "Gewurztraminer" when they order this white German wine, if they even order it at all? Said correctly, it's actually pretty fun to say. We'll leave it to the dictionary people to explain, but meanwhile, someone seriously needs to put this word into a loop and incorporate it into a song.
Is it "sock-A" or "sock-E?" This one you're going to come across in your life for sure, if you haven't many many times already. Either is basically acceptable, but in case you were wondering, the Japanese pronunciation of its ubiquitous rice wine, sake, is closer to the "A" pronunciation than the "E," and it seems to help if you sound a little huffy and/or angry when you say it.
What other food and drinks do you find intimidating and/or hellacious to pronounce?
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