23 foods you might be saying wrong

Kingfish seh-BEE-cheh at Dog's Bar, St Kilda.
Kingfish seh-BEE-cheh at Dog's Bar, St Kilda. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer

You know what irks me more than most things? Even more than the word "toastie"? Waiters correcting pronunciation. The scenario invariably goes like this:

Pleasant customer: "Hmmm. It all looks delicious, but I think I'll have the boo-la-bay-zee."

Smarmy waiter: "Of course, sir. The boo-yah-behss is an excellent choice."

Yes, smarmy waiter pronounced bouillabaisse correctly, but the customer feels like a right drongo.

I've been in this situation many times - usually when ordering Italian wine - so here's a general guide to pronouncing those trickier menu items. And if you already have these covered, you win a gold star and bottle of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.

Acai Bowl at Bare Naked Bowls, Manly.

An acai bowl at Bare Naked Bowls, Manly. Photo: Supplied

Acai - "ah-SIGH-ee"

Ever had an Asahi and acai cocktail? Of course not. That would be disgusting and I don't care how much fun it is to say.

Boerewors - "BOO-ruh-vorse"

A spicy South African sausage that does not rhyme with Boer War.

Bouillabaisse at Les Bistronomes  Braddon.

Bouillabaisse at Les Bistronomes Braddon. Photo: Melissa Adams

Bouillabaisse - "BOO-yah-behss"

As mentioned above. One should never be afraid to order bouillabaisse for fear of a French waiter's judgement. If still in self doubt, ask for the fish stew.

Bruschetta - "broo-SKET-ah"

DO: Use only the best olive oil you can get your mitts on. DON'T: Pronounce the first half of this antipasto to sound anything like "brush".

Cevapcici - "che-VAHP-chi-chi"

The skinless Balkan sausage sure looks hard to say, but once you master the pronunciation it'll be all you want to order. Preferably with a cold glass of zibibbo for maximum phonetic fun times.

Ceviche - "seh-BEE-cheh"

Let's be honest, though - no one's calling the Peruvian embassy if you pronounce the seafood hit of summer with a "VEE" in the middle.

Chipotle - "chi-POHT-lay"

Neither the smoked chilli or questionable American restaurant chain rhyme with bottle, throttle or Aristotle. Shame, because that would have been a hell of a limerick.

Croissant - "kwa-SAHN"

A tricky one if you can't pull off the guttural French "R" sound. Put too much emphasis on the "W" ("KWA-sahn!") and everyone in the bakery will think you're a wanker. With good cause too, mon ami. And I wouldn't stress if you fail to drop the "T" - we don't with "restaurant", so why should croissant be different? Francophiles, sound off in the comments below.

Crudites with bagna cauda.

Adam Liaw's crudites with bagna cauda dip (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem

Crudites - "KREW-dee-tay"

A rare snack on Australian menus, but French waiters will judge you something shocking if you pronounce it anything like "Deadites". (The demonic zombie army from Evil Dead? Yes? No? I really couldn't think of a better rhyme. I'm not even sure it is a rhyme.)

Gyro - "YEE-roh"

Are you talking about Gyro Gearloose? The anthropomorphic chicken whose poorly conceived inventions would routinely land him in hot water on Ducktales? Yes? Then by all means pronounce his name to rhyme with "biro". If you're referencing the Greek delicacy of meat and chips wrapped in flatbread, please see above.

Jalapeno - "hah-lah-PEYN-yoh"

Once a food makes it to Subway, it's fair to assume most punters know how to pronounce it. However, I also assumed Eddie McGuire would no longer be on the telly in 2016 and here we are.

Manchego - "mahn-CHAY-goh"

Cheese deserves a pronunciation guide all of its own, but, in the meantime, it's worth noting that this Spanish sheep's milk cheese does not rhyme with Lego.

Maraschino - "MAR-uh-SKEE-noh"

If you want to make an Italian barman REALLY cranky, pronounce the "chino" part of this cherry liqueur as you would Warnie's favourite relaxed-fit pant.

Mille-feuille - "meel-foy"

The cake of a thousand layers needn't take you a thousand attempts to pronounce it.

'Nduja and chicory pizza at Valentino Calabrian Kitchen, Toorak.

'Nduja and chicory pizza at Valentino Calabrian Kitchen, Toorak. Photo: Timothy Grey

'Nduja - "en-DOO-ya"

The spreadable sausage that strikes fear in the heart of all non-Calabrians who order it. (If that "nd" combination wasn't hard enough, here, have an apostrophe.)

Turmeric - "TUR-mer-ik"

This is a "superfood" now? Gee whiz, I can't keep up. The one thing I know it's definitely not is "choomerick".

Pho - "fuh"

I choose to employ the "fur without the R" tactic, however I know I'm still saying it wrong as there's Vietnamese diphthongs waaayyyy out of my reach. Still, it's better than saying "foe". There's also nothing I love more than watching world-music types order "fuh" and stand around waiting for an applause that never comes.

Pide - "PEE-dae"

I once lived with a guy who pronounced this Turkish pizza pie to rhyme with "ride". He also racked up $300 worth of calls to Big Brother Up Late one night and routinely left charcoal chicken in the fridge uncovered. Don't be that guy. (Hi, Nick.)

Quinoa is not a town south-west of Goondiwindi.

Quinoa is not a town south-west of Goondiwindi. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Quinoa - "KEEN-wah"

OK, you likely have this one the bag by now but, just to confirm, the winner of World's Sexiest Grain Crop 2012 is not pronounced to sound like a Queensland border town.

Sriracha - "SEE-ra-cha"

Ignore the first "r" when pronouncing this rooster hot sauce and you're most of the way there. "SEE-rotch-ah" is also acceptable. Squirting it into your pho is not.

Worcestershire - "WUSS-ta-sha"

It does sound like a second-tier character from The Lion King, doesn't it? Only expat hobbits pronounce "shire" to rhyme with "hire" and most Brits shorten Lee & Perrins fermented condiment to "wuss-ta sauce" anyway. Anglophiles, sound off in the comments below.

Xiao long bao - "shau long bau"

There are inflections in the dumpling's Mandarin pronunciation, but the important thing is you don't pronounce the "X" and sound like a feral cat hissing at the yum cha lady.

Zabaglione - "tza-bal-YON-eh"

Don't pronounce the "G" and don't be afraid to stir in cognac. This is custard at its sexiest.

Neil Perry's vanilla bean zabaglione with berries.

Neil Perry's vanilla bean zabaglione with berries (Recipe here). Photo: William Meppem