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Inexcusably Unpalatable

Even though I don’t know many who are as crazed about Asian food and chain restaurants as I am. And despite my traveling 70 miles to Cherry Hill, NJ to make a frakking video (which I just deleted from YouTube, so don’t even bother) about Pei Wei for their Blog Asia contest, I didn’t genuinely think I would make it to the final five (oh my, another BSG reference). Perkiness and enthusiasm will always triumph and I have neither.

I so wanted 2011 to be about understanding rather than judging. For a while I’ve been pondering what makes a person American-Idol-contestant confident in their average abilities? Were they loved too much as a baby? Was the part of their hypothalamus that regulates self-awareness damaged? Maybe they’re just really positive and try hard. There’s something to be said for that. I’m also grappling with stereotypes/archetypes, some represented by these contest finalists. It’s too easy to make fun of stay-at-home mommies, do-gooder Christians, tiny Asian girls who eat like pigs,  mavericks and Yelpers, so I won’t.

But I am still going to have to put Pei Wei and their parent company P.F. Chang’s on my shit list. It’s not that I  have a problem with crimes against Chinese food. In fact, I openly embrace them—crab rangoon, sweet and sour pork, even egg foo young—I will eat you all.

But crimes against the English language?! No, never. I cannot patronize a company that lets contest-winners use the phrase, “sophisticated foodie palette.” Fuck understanding; 2011 is going to have to be about tough love. From now on I will be on palette patrol (what that entails, I’m not sure yet).  If you’ve made it to adulthood without mastering middle-school grammar, then someone needs to help you. Ignorance is not bliss for the public subjected to palate abuse.


This is a palate. Technically, it’s the roof of your mouth not your tongue, but we associate the word with taste. Someone with a discriminating one would hopefully know how to spell it.


This is a palette. It can mean a few things, but commonly designates a wooden board where an artist places and mixes paint. It can also be used to describe a range of colors–or even flavors. A chef may employ a palette of spices but you’ll taste them with your so-called palate.


This is a pallet and has little reason to show up in anything written about food unless you’re talking about Sysco or Costco.

I don’t mind running the risk of becoming a crotchety fuddy-duddy clinging to outmoded concepts (such as eighth-grade reading levels) like an old-guard food writer who won’t leave Manhattan (or one of those Twitter scolds). You can keep your copious exclamation points, yummies, to die fors, nom noms, melts in your mouths and best-I’ve-ever-eaten hyperbole, but you must get your homophones in check. It’s no longer optional. And when $10,000 and a trip to Asia are at stake–or should I say steak–it’s no longer harmless.

Photos from bohone and Getty Images


One Comment Post a comment
  1. Oh, man, even as a wannabe-writer, English-degree-holder, and longtime-maker-funnerer-of-people-who-can’t-spell, I still had to Google my blog and “palette” to make sure I haven’t ever made that mistake.

    Looks like I’m safe from getting read my rights by you . . . for now.

    January 7, 2011

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