Meat may or may not be murder, but descriptions of it certainly murder plenty of restaurant reviews. In general, food can be challenging to describe, particularly for lazy writers. After all, there are only so many ways to inform readers that the bottom of a pizza crust was “crispy” without using the word “crispy.” You have to actually think about the moment your teeth bit into it. Was it like matzoh? The outside of a baguette? A pig's ear? Sheet-rock?
We admit we're not perfect. On the occasions we've been too drunk to recall the details of a meal or failed to jot down notes between bites, we ourselves have resorted to such bland, unspecific descriptives. We also understand that, for non-lazy writers, the search for inspiring adjectives to pipe into descriptions of food never stops, and sometimes leads us down precarious semantic paths. However, we draw the line when it comes to modifying meat. A “crispy” pizza doesn't offend much, but a piece of meat, sauced, so to speak, with an unbecoming adjective, is a wrecking ball for the appetite. Behold, our impossibly subjective Top 5 Words Restaurant Reviewers Should Stop Using To Describe Meat:
5. Morsel: This may not seem so bad, but we once had an editor who insisted, without explanation, on changing every “piece” and “bite” we wrote to “morsel.” As if making that adjustment more thoroughly conveyed the unbearable delicacy and delightfulness of what we were describing. Weirdly, the word makes us think of besuited mice nibbling at pieces of cheese in broken traps.
4. Moist: This word evokes a large slick of underarm sweat less readily than “damp,” but no one ever uses “damp” to describe a chicken quarter. We get that “moist” doesn't have to mean the kind of funky wetness we associate with perspiration and dewy grass, but the fact that it can at all means that it shouldn't be used. We've probably done it. But we regret it.
3. Supple: Here's a particularly heinous example we yanked off the Internet: “Soft, juicy chunks of interior meat… fall into shreds so supple they make us want to abandon all utensils and eat like happy cave dwellers.” Disregarding the fact that plenty of “happy” non-cave-dwellers around the world eat with their hands, this meat sounds like it has the texture of baby food. Besides, isn't “supple” more appropriately applied to muscles that are still alive and flex of their own volition?
2. Fleshy: This is almost the wurst. Meat is flesh. While the word can mean “succulent” and other things as well, calling it “fleshy” is a little too much like calling it “meat-like.” It also reminds us of the pink, pulpy stuff we see inside our finger when we accidentally cut it chopping vegetables.
1. Voluptuous: The wurst. Usually, you will find this word pulsing like a violent boil from the heart of some lush prose concerning a splashy New American stunner's “folds of pork” or “slabs of foie gras.” We want it to sashay back into the romance novel from which it came.