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One Man’s Toothsome is Another’s Melts in Your Mouth

MeltykissWe all have our pet peeves. I’m cliché crazy so I should tread lightly here. I use tasty to describe food and that’s probably a nuisance to some (though I wouldn’t necessarily use the term in something professional, whatever that means anymore). I would never say yummy (or god forbid, yummo) but it doesn’t rankle me. I really don’t care for the word succulent and once an editor inserted that into an opening paragraph I’d written and it skeeved me out.

My least favorite food description has to be melts in your mouth followed by to die for with sinful as a close runner up. I guess chocolate really does melt in your mouth, hence the M&M’s melts in your mouth, not in your hands tagline, but you see it used all the time to describe meat and fish and that’s not really accurate or appetizing. You usually see melts in your mouth in online forums or casual venues, it’s to be expected, but last week it was in a Time Out NY review. No, not the New York Times, but they do have standards (and a style guide).

Out of curiosity, I turned to Chowhound for a sense of this phrase’s ubiquitousness. I’m not picking on Chowhound, they just proved to be a good resource because they’re one of the longest running food boards and I thought I’d get a good sampling. I was expecting a couple hundred hits. But no, there were 3,296. Seriously. And the second hit contains an amazing double whammy right in the title. “Melt in your mouth, to die for sushi?” Bonanza.

Not completely related, and it’s a Britisism/Aussieism, but only in the past few months have I become acquainted with the phrase to the boil as in “let it come to the boil” as opposed to to a boil. Petty, I know, it’s a standing in/on line thing. My ears just can’t get accustomed to standing on a line no matter how long I live here.

I'm sure there are countless other petty offensenes. I've heard of toothsome haters and it doesn't pain me in the least to use the adjective.

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  1. Years ago, I had a very bad habit of calling good food “grub” — as in,

    “Wow! Those cookies that you baked are grub!”

    Does that rub you the wrong way? It does me… now… and very much so!

    I don’t know where, how, when, or why I began using that phrase. But I do remember when and why I stopped using it!

    A co-worker and good friend of mine was the editor of our company newsletter and, when writing a piece about a certain event (a workplace potluck or some such thing), out of the clear blue she quoted me. Tragic. To see it there in print:

    “…and Kelly described the food as total grub….”

    …well, I nearly dropped dead when I read it. And I have not uttered that word aloud ever since. Not unless I’m referring to the that larvae thing that crawls around in my garden.

    I truly enjoy your writing, Krista. You have a wit that cannot be bought or borrowed; it must be inborn.

    May 18, 2007
  2. Kelly: of course, grub. I’ve become a little desensitized to the word since Grub Street has become so successful. But I used to, and still do, have a real problem with grubbin’, in particular.

    A million years ago (the dated giveaway is how I characterize 20-somethings as being into all things tribal) I wrote about my idea for a restaurant I was going to call Totally Grubbin’.

    goldface: pillowy doesn’t make me totally cringe, but yes, gnocchi could use a fresher description.

    I just thought of another annoyance: licking the plate clean. As in, the food is so good you’ll want to lick the plate clean. Uh, speak for yourself. I kind of find mouth-watering creepy, as well. Wow, aren’t I nitpicky?

    May 18, 2007
  3. s.lak #

    “pillowy doesn’t make me totally cringe, but yes, gnocchi could use a fresher description”
    How about “light as air” I’ve never heard that one before.

    May 18, 2007
  4. I’m on a one-woman quest to eradicate the word “Proustian” from anything food related. Care to join?

    May 19, 2007
  5. It’s probably poor form to keep responding to your own post but I need to add guac to this list. That’s more of a peeve than a cliche but it’s got to be one of the foulest sounding shorthands in the English language. And it goes hand in hand with equally vile margs.

    May 21, 2007

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