Photo: Confit de canard at Lusso. Those ‘in the know’ will say “kohn-feee-duh-kah-naaaarhrhrdh” but I like to call it Duck con-feet.
Robert Sietsema has compiled a list of the 43 Most Mispronounced Food Words. The pronunciation guide is for Americans, hence the “Eh” becomes “Aay” and “Rrrr” has to be stressed. I take issue with his pronunciation of chorizo—Chore-eetz-zo?! That’s just pretentious, it’s not Italian. Wait, if it’s Spanish there’s a lisp. Cho-ree-tho? Tho in Thpain I am Jethica Thafra?
Usually I don’t mind being corrected about my pronunciation, but it drives me nuts when the correction is wrong and I know I’m right. For instance when you order Salade Nicoise and pronounce the S, Neeshwaz because there’s an E after it, no, and the waiter snottily replies, “Neesh-WA.” Aaaaaa! Repeat after me: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (Huwag mag-marunong.)
When people say “Fer-nay” Branca I want to start yelling “Fernet! Fernet!” (As friends will attest I am more combative when I hear people say “MTV” when they mean “music video” or “pictorial” when they mean “photo shoot”. “Pictorial?! Pictorial?!” is a running joke.) Some words are read as spelled, do not faux-Frenchify. Why are we so self-conscious about our French pronunciation, you think the French get this anxious about their English? I can’t find my photo of a Paris cafe menu where “charcuterie” was described as “assorted pigment”.
Recently I couldn’t sleep because I said “creme de cassis” with the final S and my friend said, “Isn’t it cassee?” Which ticked me off because it’s the one thing I know about mixing drinks (Ca-CEASE! Ca-CEASE!), but he’s frequently right so I checked first, and I ended up texting a counter-correction at 2am. Yes, it’s a neurosis.
Best policy, I think, is to leave people’s pronunciation alone. Try correcting your ancient aunt’s pronunciation of “mille feuille”, see if you don’t get bopped on the head. When it’s your turn to say the word, say it the right way and hope the correction sticks. Don’t be so snooty about food, we all know where it’ll end up tomorrow. (But don’t cut your pasta with a knife!)