There you sit, afraid to order because you really want that tasty slaw made from that crispy root vegetable. It’s right there on the menu, you know how to spell it, but… jicama? So you point, which works, but it would have been nice to say it out loud. We all have those moments.
Hard to pronounce food can taste really great, and we’re here to make it easier to ask for with this simple pronunciation guide.
And no, we’re not getting into wines just yet. We’ll save that for another post!
23 of the foods you may have been mispronouncing forever.
Açaí – ah-sigh-EE
Can you even make an Insta-ready smoothie bowl without this tasty little purple berry? Probably not.
Bruschetta – broo-SKETT-uh
Are you pronouncing it with a “sh” sound? Let’s fix that! TBH, in our house, we just call this “toast” with stuff on it. However to pronounce it properly in Italian, there’s a hard k sound, as there is when there’s the letter h in between a c and an e or i. Just like “Pinocchio.” Not like muskrat.
Brussels sprouts – BRUSS-uhlz sprouts
“Sprouts,” you’ll be happy to know, is pronounced exactly like you thought. This one is more of a spelling issue, because you can’t hear the “s” at the end of “Brussels” when it comes before “sprouts.” But that “s” is there, y’all!
Cacio e pepe – KA-cho eh PAY-peh
What’s not to love about cheese, pepper, and pasta, all in one big bowl of comfort food? If you’ve seen this on a menu but didn’t know what it is, now you know what you’re ordering next trip to an Italian restaurant. (Also delicious: Carbonara, which is much easier to say.)
Caprese – cuh-PRAY-zee
We love this simple tomato, mozzarella and basil salad so order it or make your own (it’s also delicious layered on skewers for the kids) every chance you get. Just be sure to rhyme it with “crazy” and not “crease.”
Chipotle – chuh-POTE-lay or chee-POTE-lay
Before the national chain restaurant became so popular, this one was a lot tougher! Three cheers for a reasonably priced burrito on the go.
Edamame – ed-uh-MAH-may
A great protein source, edamame are delicious in a stir-fry or as an appetizer. You can also call them by their other name, soy beans — neither of which rhyme with “same” or “dame.”
Espresso – ess-PRESS-oh
Sorry, “expresso” sayers, there’s no x in this Italian word. That said, Merriam-Webster takes on the espresso vs expresso debate and establishes that x pronunciation has some merit after all, but probably not for the reasons you think. If you’re not writing it with an “x,” don’t say it with one
Gnocchi – NYO-kee or NYAW-kee
Just remind yourself “gee, there’s no g sound” in this wonderful potato-based pasta dish. And definitely no “ch” sound! It’s not fetuccini! Although…fettuccini does have the “ch” sound though no “ch” in the spelling. Chew on that.
Gyro – YEE-roh
It’s not the delicious Greek sandwich version of a gyroscope and it doesn’t have a hard g sound like “guy” or “gynecologist.” No matter how the waiter says it, it should be pronounced with a “y” sound at the beginning.
Jicama – HEE-kuh-muh or HIK-uh-muh
You have choices for this crispy tuber, just not with that how to pronounce its first letter. The word is Spanish, so the “j” sounds like an “h” in English. Think, jalapeno.
La Croix – luh-KROY
This one still confuses my half-French husband and who can blame him? But it wasn’t invented in France or Québec or on AbFab, as fun as it is to say “La-Kwah, darling. La Croix water hails from Wisconsin, and they pronounce it “croy,” rhyming with “toy,” so we should too.
Lychee – LEE-chee
This delicious Asian fruit tastes like a cross between a pear and a grape, but better. Lychee also makes an excellent cocktail garnish. We hear they say LIE-chee in the U.K.,so if you’re British, feel free.
Macaron – ma-ka-RON or ma-ka-RONE
We all go wayyyyy back with this explanation of the difference between a macaron and a macaroon! The former is is a delicious French almond meringue cookie sandwich in lots of lovely flavors, while the latter is a hefty coconut drop cookie often served at Passover. Neither are to be confused with Macron, who is the president of France.
Pho – fuh
Tempted to call it “fo?” Same! But since we love this traditional and delicious Vietnamese stew, I want to say it right, and it’s fuh, rhymes with duh.
Poke – poh-KAY
This meal in a bowl trend may be fading a bit but if you still love it, that’s oh-KAY by me. (See what I did there?)
Quinoa – KEEN-wah
This is one of the tastiest, kid-friendly, meat-free proteins around, and now you can ask for quinoa with confidence — and just two syllables — when you can’t find it at the store. (Pssst… you’ll find it with the grains, even though it’s technically a seed.)
Rugelach – roo-guh-LACH
This totally delicious baked treat is a mainstay in Jewish bakeries around New York. It’s like a small, sweet, baked croissant, but rolled around chocolate (the best!), cinnamon, raisins and walnuts, or poppy seeds. Some people say rugelah — like they’re leaving the “a” off of “arugula” — and that’s correct! But…only in the singular form. In Yiddish, the “ch” ending (the same sound as in Chanukkah, Challah or Chutzpah) indicates a plural. Either way, order it if you see it! Well worth the pronunciation.
Sherbet /Sherbert – SHER-but or SHER-bert
One “r” or two? Sherbet is the originally, and the frequent mispronunciation lead to both pronunciations — and spellings becoming acceptable.
Sorbet – sawr-BAY
it’s french, so as with “bouquet” the “et” gets the “ay” treatment. Also, sorbet is not merely the French version of sherbet. It’s not made with any dairy at all, so here’s to delicious desserts for the lactose-intolerant.
Turmeric – TOO-mer-ik or TER-mer-ik
If you listen to Spawned with Kristen and Liz, you may know that Turmeric was NPR Guy Raz’s cool pick of the week when he was a guest. And then you also know he pronounces it with both r sounds, but either is acceptable.
Vichysoisse – vih-she-SWAHZ
It may look long and intimidating, but this cold, creamy, French potato leek soup named for the town Vichy is actually rather phonetic.
Worcestershire – WUSS-ter-sheer
If you’ve wondered how many syllables this one has, it’s three. Apparently. But some turn it into four syllables by pronouncing “shire” like the place the Hobbits live. And then there’s my mom who says simply “wooster” with a long “o” (like a ghost is saying it) possibly based on the New England pronunciation of Worcester, MA — but leaving out the “shire.” . And my husband says something that sounds like “wurshishshishtershur” but I know what he means. You can also follow our Recipe Rescue moderator Erin’s lead and just call it that “brown salty sour sauce from England.” Ha.
So, what food are you afraid to order for because you aren’t 100% sure how to say it? Join us in our Facebook group, “Recipe Rescue,” to discuss or leave a comment below!