Posts Tagged ‘culinary’

We in the food industry love to figure out the best way to sell a product with a romance description, crisp food photography, and innovative packaging, because these are all the things that affect what you buy, before you have a chance to eat it.  However, there is always a bit of trickery in this process.  This could be hand placed fresh ingredients for the photo, an exaggeration of the flavor profile, and my personal favorite, playing with the standard of identity.

For instance, to call something ‘Greek yogurt,’ it’s traditionally a strained yogurt made with Greek milk with a high protein content, and thicker consistency with less sugar than standard yogurt.  This is the standard of identity which must be submitted and regulated before a product can be labeled as ‘Greek yogurt’.  You can throw all of that our the door if you label it as ‘Greek-style yogurt’.  Now you can add thickening agents, flavors, or other dairy products to have a final yogurt that tastes LIKE Greek yogurt, without having it produced in the standard way. Shenanigans.

There are many examples of this in both foodservice and retail establishments.  Andouille-style sausage, firebaked style flatbreads…the list goes on.  Whenever there is a a regulation in place for a product description, using the word ‘style’ gives us a little leeway.  If you are looking for traditional products or ingredients, avoid items labeled as ‘yada-style yada’.  The advantage of incorporating the word ‘style’ is that the product is usually at a better price point, last longer, better organoleptic properties over shelf-life, and it some cases, consumers aren’t concerned if it is authentic.  I am not saying either is right or wrong, just make sure you know what you are looking for.

There are also food items that have NO standard of identity, which then can use whatever they so desire as a descriptor.

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What are some of your favorite misleading food terms?

ID-100167763Here are a few fancy food terms that will make you sound like a culinarian at you next kegger…

HEIRLOOM – such as ‘heirloom tomatoes’.  These are types of food items that have never been developed for large scale agriculture.  They are usually grown in small quantities in parts of the world you have never been to.  These varieties of grown food have no hybrid varieties, and utilizes natural pollination methods.  Generations after generations grow one particular variety of crop without the interference of ‘The Man’.  In other words, This is the same strain of plant, or seed that was around 75, 100, or even thousands of years.  For all you natural fans, this means no GMO’s of any kind, and due to ‘survival of the fittest’, they grow great in whatever region they are from, but have a tough time anywhere else.  Expect to pay a little more than your average variety, and if you grown them yourself, make sure you get some kind of confirmation that your seeds are actually heirloom, due to shenanigans.

ANCIENT – such as ‘ancient grains’. Very similar to heirloom, these are grains, seeds, or plant life that have been unchanged for 1000’s of years like quinoa, amaranth, spelt, Kamut, and many others.  These are very different from mass produced corn, rice, and common wheat that have been selectively developed for years for optimal growing. Ancient grains are said to be super healthy, usually containing high amounts of protein, fiber, and nutrients.  Some of these grains are still not safe for people with wheat allergies, but some are, so do your homework. You will also pay a little more for these, and they usually have a long cook time compared to what you are used to.

ARTISAN – such as ‘artisan pizza crust’.  Unfortunately, this word as no standard of identity in the food world and lost most of its meaning when the food marketing professionals of the world slapped it on everything.  Originally, it stated that a skilled food craftsman created, developed, or cooked your food item.  It means that your product is not manufactured, but made by a person, you know…with his or her own hands and the sweat on his or her brow (hopefully not dripping into your food).  Small cheese, beer, or bread makers who create things from scratch usually would call their products artisanal.  But, as stated earlier, it now just means a little better than a standard product.  There is no one to regulate this term, so use it however you like.

NOTES – such as ‘flavor notes’.  This wine has notes of late harvest elderberry and raisin yada, yada, yada.  It means it kind of taste like it has ‘XYZ’ in it.  You can use this word if you have no idea what something really tastes like, but want to put your two sense in.  Say something like, “very strange, I pick up some notes of lawn trimmings and wet dog in my PBR”.

FORCEMEAT – such as ‘uuummm forcemeat’.  Take your charcuterie terminology to the next level!  This term describes ground lean meats blended with fat and usually formed in some way.  Yes kind of like sausage.  Actually, it is exactly like sausage, and I recommend using this term as much as possible.

CRUDITES – Yeah, those platters of vegetables with ranch in the middle all packaged real nice from your grocery store…thats what crudités is.  Raw vegetables with sauce.  Classy.

GASTRONOME  – Call yourself this, because it means you like fancy food shenanigans.

What are some of your favorite food terms???