Mind your language

eat clean


Obviously food is about taste and texture. But it’s also about the language used to describe it and, more to the point, the way language is violated and trampled upon in the service of a tiresome agenda. On March 3 I bring my show about awful restaurant experiences to The Alban Arena. During My Dining Hell I talk about many things, including menu language (before being joined in the second half by my jazz quartet for songs of food and agony). Ahead of that I thought I’d share a few words used around food – on menus, in its marketing – that really drive me nuts.


  1. Clean Eating – Where do I start? Food isn’t clean, or dirty. It’s just food. It doesn’t have morals. What matters is whether you eat a balanced diet or not. Having a kiwi, kale and avocado smoothie every morning doesn’t make you clean. And it doesn’t make you a good person. It just makes you rather annoying.
  2. Proper – as in a ‘proper pie’ or a ‘proper hamburger’. So help me here. What’s an improper pie? One that tries to put its hand up your skirt while you’re eating it? It’s a meaningless word. What you’re trying to say is that your pie is better than everyone else’s. But presumably you’ve always thought that your pie was better or you wouldn’t be trying to sell it.
  3. Honest food. Another utterly meaningless term. Again it’s an attempt by the food manufacturer or the chef to claim virtue for themselves. As in ‘All we serve is good, honest food’. So tell me: what is dishonest food? Is that the carrot on your plate which keeps you occupied while the rest of its mates nick your car? Tell me about the dishonest salmon. Does it have a criminal record? Arggh.

There are more, many more, and I’ll go into that during My Dining Hell. In the second half it’s time for my jazz quartet, with songs of food and agony. And some truly filthy stories of life growing up with a mother who was a sex advice columnist. What’s not to like?

See you in St Albans on March 3.

(Also at Kingston Rose, Feb 23:


In the meantime what food words do you hate?

3 comments on “Mind your language

  1. Dan Howdle on

    Deconstructed anything, Jay.

    The point of having someone cook something for you is, in part at least, to have someone who knows what they’re doing ‘construct’ something for you. If a builder pointed at his primordial scattering of bricks and copper piping, arguing that fully-built dwellings are ‘overdone’ and ‘passé’ the last thing we would do is pay him.


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