Harbingers of Spring: The new crop of food words

image via Manjit Sangha

Nothing signals the change of season like the new crop of food words.
Each year around this time, the Oxford English Dictionary releases a list of new words that will be welcomed to its pages.

Come on; this is good stuff!
I see those eyes start to glaze over. I know what you’re thinking: epic word-nerdery. But it’s so much more than that.

As the definitive record of our language the OED is also our cultural barometer. A new food word isn’t just an expanded vocabulary— it signals a change in our appetites and tastes. Its inclusion tells us that the dish is served and the word is used commonly enough that it’s worthy of inking it in to the annals of history; at least in the estimation of the dictionary’s editors.

Drum roll, please.
This season’s crop shows our cultural interconnectedness, as we borrow freely from regional and world cuisines, from science and technology, pop cultural references, and urban slang:
Babycino. A drink of hot milk that has been frothed up with pressurized steam, intended for children.
Banh mi. A Vietnamese snack consisting of a baguette (traditionally baked with both rice and wheat flour) filled with a variety of ingredients, typically including meat, pickled vegetables, and chili peppers.
Chermoula. In North African cookery, a sauce or marinade for fish or meat, typically containing olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and cilantro.
Eton mess. A dessert consisting of a rough mixture of whipped cream, pieces of meringue, and fruit, typically strawberries.
Flat water. Ordinary tap or bottled drinking water, as opposed to sparkling water.
Flat white. A type of coffee made with espresso and hot steamed milk, but without the froth characteristic of a cappuccino.
Gremolata. A dressing or garnish made with chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest, served as an accompaniment to meat or fish.
Kleftiko. A Greek dish consisting of lamb marinated with lemon juice and herbs and cooked slowly in a sealed container.
Mac1. Macaroni, as in mac and cheese.
Momo. In Tibetan cooking, a steamed dumpling filled with meat or vegetables.
Nom nom. Used to express pleasure at eating, or at the prospect of eating, delicious food.
Pork bun. A Chinese snack consisting of steamed or baked bread dough filled with barbecued pork.
Pulled pork. Tender, slow-cooked pork that is pulled apart into pieces and often prepared with a barbecue sauce.
Rugelach. A bite-size cookie made with cream-cheese dough rolled around a filling of nuts, poppy seed paste, chocolate or jam.
Sammich. A sandwich.
Spiedie. An Italian-American dish consisting of marinated pieces of meat cooked on a skewer, and often served in a roll.
5-second rule (also 3- or 5-, etc.). The culinary rule that allows for the eating of a delicious morsel that has fallen to the floor, provided that it is retrieved within the specified period of time.

There is also a short-list of culinary terms that didn’t make the cut. Don’t call them rejects—the OED editors are keeping an eye on these for inclusion in future editions. These not-yet-words are languishing on 4″x6″ index cards, stored alphabetically in a vault in Oxford owned by the Oxford University Press. Really.
Dringle. The watermark left on wood caused by a glass of liquid.
Freegan. Someone who rejects consumerism, usually by eating discarded food.
Oninate. To overwhelm with post-dining breath.
Peppier. A server whose sole job is to offer diners ground pepper, usually from a large pepper mill.
Spatulate. To remove batter or dough from the side of a bowl with a spatula.


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3 Responses to Harbingers of Spring: The new crop of food words

  1. Bella, also die Farbe sind genial, find's super, dass du so Freud häsch und gaaaanz vill wotsch üebe :o))gseht super us!Ganz en liebe GruessAlessandra

  2. Janice says:

    An unforgivable oversight!

  3. Sam L Roth says:

    How could you forget the most important food-related addition: Muffin Top, both the tastiest part of a cup-baked quick bread and “a protuberance of flesh above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers.” (link)

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