Lifestyle

Sunday 21 September 2014

I love tzatziki. I just can't pronounce it

As a nation of sophisticated diners, we of course know our gnocchi from our prosciutto, our moules marinière from our taramasalata. But while, gastronomically speaking, we can walk the walk, how many of us, when the frites are down, can talk the talk?

A new survey suggests that, for all our culinary nous, even dedicated foodies struggle to correctly pronounce the names of exotic dishes. The study discovered that people routinely mangle their favourite recipes, with commonplace tongue twisters including the Greek dip tzatziki (pssst, that first 't' is silent).

"Over the last few decades we have become a lot more experimental," says Afruj Miah, of Glorious! Foods, the company behind the blush-inducing data. "But by doing so it would appear we struggle with the pronunciation of some well-known dishes. Cuisine from Japan, China and Mexico can be notoriously hard to say, but (English speakers) seem to have trouble with Italian and French dishes too, such as prosciutto and dauphinois.

"It's a shame if people are avoiding ordering their favourite dishes purely because they are not sure of how to say it."

If you have ever found yourself at this awkward impasse, take comfort in the knowledge that you are far from alone. Two-thirds of regular restaurant goers said they routinely encountered foods they struggled to pronounce; nearly one in five confessed to feeling intimidated trying to order an exotic dish at an upmarket restaurant.

It isn't so much fear of our dining companions' disapproval, either. What we really dread, apparently, is looking silly in front of the snooty waiter.

This, of course, speaks to a wider truth about gastronomy: when dining out, surely we should order based on personal taste rather than out of a desire to impress our companions or, sorrier yet, the staff?

Otherwise, you risk becoming one of those individuals who believes that how they dress and what they eat points to some fundamental truth about the kind of person they are. That way lies dissatisfaction and, ultimately, lower self-esteem.

All of that said, there is an undeniable satisfaction to be gleaned watching smug gourmands caught with their figurative trousers down. The word for this, we believe, is schadenfreude, though whatever you do, please don't ask us to pronounce it.

Irish Independent

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