Dan Jurafsky's The Language Of Food

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Delving into the enigmatic world of haute cuisine and its flamboyant menus, we’re often mesmerised, not to say amused, by its unique use of language. Anyone who’s ventured out to eat at an expensive restaurant has in all likelihood had a good laugh over the florid language used to describe the dishes. Menu authors seem to go the extra mile to come up with rich, ‘sophisticated’ descriptions. Does simply reading the menu enhance the diner’s experience and subsequently encourage them to spend more? From the word ‘crispy’ to ‘carbonated’ to ‘crackly’, there appears to be specific diction aimed at getting our mouths watering and our taste buds popping. Yet, does it really bring a thrill to our taste buds or a disappointment to our pocket? Dan Jurafsky, Linguistics and Computer Science professor at Stanford University, has investigated a possible correlation between the language used in menus and money spent on food. Jurafsky unpacked depths of history in menu language within his report, The Language of Food. He found that establishments loaded their menus with embellished language, like brassica rather than cabbage, which, of…show more content…
There seems to have been a rise in Italian vocabulary in recent years, with the popularity in Italian cuisine. We associate a certain sexiness and passion to Italy. ‘Sobrebarriga’ is more appetising than ‘flank steak’ and ‘cavatappi’ is more exotic than ‘corkscrew pasta’. In the past French has been seen as ‘haute cuisine’, notoriously used to increase food prices. French was the language of status and fine food and infamous Michelin stars. "In the 1960s and 1970s, French was still being used by high-end restaurants,". Foreign languages subliminally create feelings of sophistication in our food, however a menu that is written in English appearing in an English restaurant may engender a level of comfort, but little expectation of exciting and unusual flavours, making price rising
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