Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Stock Text

As I read through the multitude of food magazines I receive each month, I notice that there are words and phrases that they use over and over to describe food, and actions involving food (mostly they have to do with food, although there are others that don’t exactly refer to food, but that still show up in food magazines for one reason or another). Some of them have been around for quite a long time, while others are fairly new to the vocabulary. In every case, I notice that they’re things I simply refuse to do, or have anything to do with.

For instance, the newest buzzword, particularly in quotes from restaurateurs is “provision.” Not a month goes by that I don’t read an interview with some new restaurant owner who insists that “…we provision only the finest organic products to use in creating our menus.” This usually is followed by the tired spiel about using only fresh, seasonal ingredients (and, if it’s a healthy cooking magazine, how they use herbs and spices to enhance flavor, instead of added fat and salt). Personally, I do not “provision.” I buy, I purchase, I get at the store, but I do not provision.

Often articles suggest various items to eat between meals, more commonly referred to as snacks. These, the magazines urge, are perfect when I want a “nosh.” Or they offer suggestions for things I can “nosh” on. Noshing is something else I refuse to do. Primarily, I have a snack. Occasionally I’ll have a little something to tide me over. I can safely say that I have never intentionally noshed.

I can also safely say that I have never “jonesed.” We’re often assured that such-and-such a substitute can stand in successfully as a treat when we’re “jonesing” for something less healthy. Usually this is something patently ridiculous, like eating baby carrots when one is “jonesing” for potato chips, but that’s another story. I myself want, or may on rare occasions crave, but never do I jones for anything.

When deciding what to have with an entrĂ©e, I do not “round out the meal” with either a “green salad” or a “crusty loaf of bread.” I may have a salad for a vegetable, or choose to have bread with a meal, but rounding out the meal is not part of my planning. Recipe headers for entrees are always urging us to round out the meal, generally with the aforementioned green salad and/or a crusty loaf of bread. Occasionally they’ll suggest a dessert (very often some form of fresh fruit, or ice cream and cookies) to “complete the menu.”

A suggestion that’s often made, particularly in recipes for casseroles, is to “double the recipe and freeze half for later.” I find that if I do this, what I do is freeze half to throw out later. Somehow I never like the texture of prepared foods when they’re thawed and reheated. I’m really only talking about homemade food here, not frozen dinners, which can occasionally be OK and sometimes even tasty. Commercial quick freezing techniques are far superior to the job done by my Kenmore refrigerator.

Although I understand the need to find verbs other than choose and pick, which certainly can become repetitive, I almost never find myself in a position to “opt.” Frequently we’re encouraged to “opt for a whole grain bagel over a muffin” and things of that nature. I’m more one to pick, choose, or select, as opposed to opt. I really never opt if I can help it.

Then there are cutesy words that fill in for the more staid nouns—spuds instead of potatoes, kicks instead of sneakers, mitts instead of hands, tresses or locks instead of hair, peepers instead of eyes. You get the general idea. Probably the most abused of these words these days is bling. I had never heard this term before to describe that which is bright, eye-catching, and generally somewhat ostentatious. A friend commented in an email that she was sick of seeing this word everywhere. This always happens to me, particularly with this friend—I’ve never seen or heard of a word, phrase, product, or person before until she mentions it. Once she does, it’s everywhere and of course it promptly begins to annoy the crap out of me. Thus it was with bling. (I got back at her—she’d never heard of the Lee Brothers from Charleston, South Carolina. These two men moved to New York City, so missed some of the various foods they could get “back home” that they started a mail order company, and now they’ve written a cookbook and are everywhere you turn. Needless to say they’re irritating as hell, primarily because they let on to be good ol’ south’n’ boys from a long line of good ol’ south’n’ boys, when in fact they merely moved to Charleston at some point in their earlier lives. I think they’re originally from Nebraska or something.)

I’m sure there are dozens of other examples of this sort of thing I could dig up, but not without becoming more tiresome than I already have been. Magazine copy writers seem to read each other’s work and seize on the clever turn of phrase (or what’s clever once, anyway) and reuse it until it sounds like they use one of those refrigerator poetry kits full of stock magazine phrases and just rearrange them to suit the story they’re writing. That’s probably what they do, in fact. If I could provision one of those kits, I could use my mitts to do some copywriting of my own and opt for some bling with the money I'd make doing it.

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