Maybe you’ve found yourself walking down the aisles of Whole Foods or your local health food store, scanning the many products that line the shelves, and you wonder whether you’re reading some of those labels correctly. Or maybe you’ve been out to dinner at a fancy restaurant and you end up pointing to the dish you want to order on the menu because you’re afraid you’ll butcher the actual name of the item. There’s no shame in the pronunciation game – you’re definitely not alone.
It almost seems like the better a food is (or in some cases, the better it is for you), the trickier it is to pronounce. Sometimes it’s because the food itself is international and its name has origins in a language you’re unfamiliar with. Sometimes it’s a strange spelling that you’re not quite sure what to do with. And sometimes it’s just a commonly mispronounced word…and you never even realized you’ve been saying it wrong this whole time.
Is kefir pronounced it kee-fur or keh-fear? Is quinoa keen-wah or keen-o-uh? And how in the world do you say the word worcestershire? You don’t have to wonder anymore. We’re breaking down all of the commonly-mispronounced and notoriously-tricky-to-say foods out there so you know what to call them once and for all, and can confidently order off any menu.
Because as easy as it is to eat and enjoy your favorite foods, it can be equally as difficult to say them out loud.
Hard-to-pronounce foods and their correct pronunciations
We’ve aggregated the top foods – nearly 100 of them – that are either tricky to say correctly, or commonly mispronounced. Below you’ll find the full list of food names (in alphabetical order) along with a phonetic spelling of exactly how to pronounce the word, broken up by syllable.
Some foods have more than one pronunciation that’s technically not correct or incorrect, and some pronunciations may vary depending on what part of the country you’re from. But for the most part, this is a handy-dandy cheat sheet to learn how to say these common food items – so next time you try to order a turmeric latte at the cafe or a coq au vin at dinner, you never have to question yourself again.
|Name of Food||Correct Pronunciation|
|Au Jus||Oh ZHOO|
|Baba Ganoush||BAH-bah Guh-NOOSH|
|Broccoli Rabe||BROCK-a-lee ROB|
|Coq au Vin||Coke-oh-VAHN|
|Crème Brûlée||CREM Brew-LAY|
|Croque Madame||KROAK Mah-DAHM|
|Croque Monsieur||KROAK Muh-SYUR|
|Fererro Rocher||Fur-RARE-row row-SHEY|
|Filo (or Phyllo)||FEE-low|
|Foie gras||FWAH GRAH|
|Haricot Vert||AH-ree-koh VEHR|
|Pain au chocolat||PAN Oh SHOH-koh-lah|
|Parmigiano Reggiano||Par-mee-DJAH-no Reg-DJAH-no|
|Petit Four||PEH-tee For|
|Pico de Gallo||PEE-koh Deh GAH-yoh|
|Pinot Noir||PEE-noh NWAHR|
|Turmeric||TER-muh-rick OR TOO-mur-ick|
While it’s hard to say definitively, one of the most commonly mispronounced foods is the word chorizo, which is a type of smoked sausage of Spanish origin. This is based on the fact that its pronunciation has been listened to online 22 million times. The correct pronunciation of the word is “tcho-ree-tho” in Spain, but most often “tcho-ree-soh” in America.
There’s not necessarily a correct or incorrect way to pronounce the word caramel. Some say “kah-ra-mel”, while others say “karr-mull”. The pronunciation most likely depends on what area of the country you’re from. It derives from the word caramelo, which is pronounced as “car-a-mello”, and has French and Spanish origins.
The “L” is silent in the word salmon, so the correct pronunciation of this food is “sam-un” rather than “sal-mun”.