18 Foods You're Probably Pronouncing Wrong

Jeanne Sager | Dec 13, 2013 Food & Party

macaronThere is nothing that makes a word nerd nuttier than listening to people butcher the pronunciation of words in a restaurant. Overhearing someone at the next table order some "quin-oh-ah" for breakfast is enough to put me off my meal entirely! Unfortunately, the culinary world is chock-a-block with difficult words -- many of foreign origin -- that make ordering in a restaurant hard on everyone!

Don't want to sound like an idiot when you're dining out? Help is on the way!

We've rounded up the most challenging words in the culinary world, and provided the proper pronunciation.

Now do us a favor and stop asking for EXpresso, OK?

Which word do you find most challenging? What words drive you insane when they're pronounced incorrectly?

food pronunciation guide

Image via kubotake/Flickr and a.pitch/Flickr

  • Gnocchi


    Image via Cooking Etc/Flickr

    I'm not expecting you to go full Italian, but please don't pronounce the "g" or use the "ch" sound when you're ordering this potato-based pasta.

    The proper pronunciation is "nyo-kee."

  • Macaron


    Image via kubotake/Flickr

    These French pastries are often pronounced "macaroon," but here's the problem. Go into a bakery and order a "macaroon," and you're going to get a delightful little coconut confection, NOT one of these colorful meringue treats.

    The correct way to say it? "Mah-kah-rohn."

  • Banh Mi


    Image via jeffreyw/Flickr

    These Vietnamese sandwiches are delicious ... and not that hard to pronounce if you know how! Say "bun-mee."

  • Nicoise (Salad)


    Image via Dinner Series/Flickr

    Leave it to the French to confuse us. The problem is that funny "c" -- which really should be a ç, but is rarely shown that way on a menu. It changes the consonant from a hard "c" to a soft sound, so when you're going to order a niçoise salad, it should sound like "nee-swahz."

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  • Espresso


    Image via Culinary Geek/Flickr

    For the love of all that is holy, there is no "X" in this word. Stop saying "ex-press-oh!

    It is "ES-press-Oh."

  • Quinoa


    Image via SweetOnVeg/Flickr

    This gluten-free eat is all the rage these days, and yummy to boot. But it's not "kin-oh-ah."

    It's "keen-wah."

  • Broccoli Rabe


    Image via CBertel/Flickr

    This member of the mustard family is a challenge for folks more because of the second half of its name than the first.

    You've got brah-coh-lee down, right? Well the second part isn't "rayb" -- it's "rahb," like "to rob someone."

    By the way, this veggie also goes by the name rape, but fortunately it's pronounced "rah-pay."

  • (Star) Anise


    Image via Ano Lobb. @healthyrx/Flickr

    People tend to pronounce this spice as if they're talking about their brother's daughter (get it? a niece?), but the more widely accepted pronunciation is "an-ihss."

    Whatever you do, do not say "ah-nice."

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  • Gyro


    Image via JeffreyW/Flickr

    You can't go for Greek without seeing this meat on the menu, so how do you say it? The "g" is silent, and there is no long "i."

    Instead, say "ee-ro," and they'll know you mean that meat roasted on a spit.

  • Foie Gras


    Image via KurmanStaff/Flickr

    Most of us don't have ocasion to eat this fatty goose liver -- and some refuse because of animal cruelty concerns. If you want to talk about it, whether you're thinking of ordering foie gras or protesting the treatment of the geese, you'll want to say "fwah grah."

  • Agave


    Image via John Loo/Flickr

    You probably won't be ordering agave itself, but it is used in the making of a ton of foods and drinks in which you may indulge -- such as tequila.

    You'll want to say it "uh-gah-vey."

  • Tzatziki


    Image via BrevilleUSA/Flickr

    There are few things that can't be improved by this yogurt sauce. Yum! Just remember to ask for "zot-zee-kee."

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  • Acai (Berry)


    Image via borderlys/Flickr

    Just as you should be gentle with berries, you should take a soft approach to the pronunciation of that "c." You'll want to eat an "ah-sigh-ee" berry.

    And trust me, with amazing facts like this about acai, you really will!


  • Chipotle


    Image via Wikimedia

    These spicy jalapenos and the restaurant that bear their name are always a tongue teaser. The proper pronunciation? "Chih-poht-ley."

  • Pho


    Image via ThatWeLike/Flickr

    Don't let the "o" deceive you! This Vietnamese noodle dish is pronounced "fuh."