Foods You’re Probably Pronouncing Wrong (And How To Correctly Say Them)

March 4, 2016  |  
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It seems like every time you look up there’s a new superfood on the market or foodie ingredient that winds up in every meal. And while quinoa is healthy and delicious, it’s another story when you have to ask your local grocer where to find it on the shelf. And what about that wine you’ve loved for years, only to find out that you’ve been pronouncing it incorrectly all this time?

When it comes to exotic foods, spelling can be more than a little deceiving. So we’ve put together this pronunciation guide to get you through your next dinner party, trip to Whole Foods or visit to that new restaurant. So read on, and next time, you’ll be able to order that caprese salad with a glass of Chianti with confidence.

Did we miss any other foods that consistently trip everyone up? Let us know in the comment section and we’ll figure out these pronunciation mysteries together!

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It’s keen-wah, not “kee-no-ah.”

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This delicious italian salad is pronounced “kah-prey-say.”

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When you order this wine, it’s “key-ahn-tee.”

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When it comes to these sandwiches, pronunciation depends on where you are. If you’re in Greece where gryos come from, it’s pronounced “yeer-os.” But in the U.S., many people call them “gy-ros” (think Ty as in Tyra but with an “oh” at the end).

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It’s “sahm-un,” not “sal-mon.” The “l” is purely for decorative purposes.

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Now that we know it’s “broo-sket-ah” we can finally order it off the menu!

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If you want to be technically correct, it’s “home-us.” But outside of the Middle East, we hear most people say “hum-mus.”

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It’s tempting to say “ex-press-o,” but it’s really “es-press-oh.”

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It looks like it should sound like “ahn-ees,” but it’s pronounced “ann-iss.”

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“Bee-yah-bess.” It only looks hard to pronounce.

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“Shahr-koo-tuh-ree” is almost as fun to say as it is to eat.

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Foie Gras

“Fwah Grah.” It’s very French.

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It’s “nyohk-ee.”

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This delicious Vietnamese soup is pronounced “fuh.” And since everyone is eating it, we’re glad we can finally pronounce it.

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  • malka

    I am Israeli, and hummus is correctly pronounced “CHOO-moos.” The ch is pronounced like the hard, throaty, ch in Loch Ness (almost a phlegmy k sound). I cringe every time I hear “hum-us,” and the author will make a fool of you if you go around saying “home-us.”

  • north_wind

    We Americans might pronounce food items differently than they are in their country of origin; but, we’re not over there. The correct way to pronounce food items in the United States is the way that the locals do, or at least close enough that the speaker can be understood. I might wince when I hear the way that locals pronounce some words; but, unlike this legend in her own mind, I realize communicating effectively includes pronouncing words in a way in which the words will be understood by the locals.

    • tyrebitre

      –it’s correct only if it’s of local origin: pecans are a Southern nut, and it’s not OK for you Yanks to refer to them as a type of urinal, though I suppose if you wish to drink ‘mer lot’ while snacking on ‘goo da’ that’s fine. Me, I’ll snack on my ‘puh – kans’ with ‘mare – loe’ and ‘ how – dah’.

      • guest

        Love that line about “a type of urinal,” lol.
        Where are you from, if you don’t mind my asking?

      • north_wind

        I’m from the South and pronounce pecan as you do. However, whichever way of the two ways you pronounce it, the listener will understand it. What I was getting at is that the legend in her own mind who wrote the article is implying that some foods should be pronounced in a way that many Americans won’t understand what the speaker is talking about.

  • Charla

    You’re right, apparently the only ones I pronounce correctly are salmon, foie gras, and espresso (although I don’t even eat, therefore have never had to pronounce, the majority of the other items). Lol

    • north_wind

      The only reason that I know how to pronounce Charcuterie and Foie Gras correctly is that I grew up in the New Orleans area. The only others in which my pronunciation coincides with “correct” way are salmon, Chianti, and espresso.

  • Carpe Omnia

    I’m surprised Açaí didn’t make the list.

    • Jennifer

      Same here!