Something in me snaps when I see an ‘x’ in espresso.
Or an extra ‘r’ in mascarpone. The salad is ‘Caesar,’ not ‘Ceasar,’ and there is no ‘n’ in restaurateur (and a server’s incorrect pronunciation affects me like fingernails on a chalkboard, but don’t get me started…).
Yes, we all make little mistakes sometimes. And it’s true that excellent spelling skills are seldom a prerequisite for a restaurant job. But no, I will not lighten up; not until every misplaced ‘x’ has been eradicated.
There’s no room for creative expression when it comes to menu spelling. Get it wrong and it undermines your credibility and leaves doubts about your expertise. If you can’t spell it right, how can I trust you to cook it properly?
Wrong tells me that you couldn’t be bothered to check. It makes me wonder what else you couldn’t be bothered with, like trimming the tough stems from the spinach or washing your hands.
I’m not saying it’s easy.
Menus can be an etymological bomb field. They can challenge even the word-nerdiest diner with their technical jargon and regional and obscure foreign phrases. It’s what makes food terms such a favorite of the Scripps National Spelling Bee (50 food-related words appeared in the last Bee).
If (like me) you love food and you love language, then you should be excited (also like me) by the forthcoming release of Scrabble’s Cooking Edition. You can pre-order today for shipping next month. [Cooking Edition of Scrabble]
For the final word on menu language, pick up a copy of The International Menu Speller with its 10,000 alphabetically arranged names of dishes, ingredients, culinary techniques and nutrition terms, all correctly spelled and accented. [The International Menu Speller]