Written by adam on Jul 6, 2006
Food's Most Misused Word
Food's most misused word is Gourmet. Not only is it misused, it is overused. As Americans, we think of Gourmet food as something prepared by a 5-star chef, or at least a professional. Mostly we just imagine gourmet food as being expensive. Just thinking about the word Gourmet makes me think of the Mansion at Turtle Creek Restaurant in Dallas. Very fine food, excellent service, and a big bite out of my wallet. Now that food was gourmet. Let's see some definitions to find out this mystery.
A gourmet is a person with a discriminating palate and who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink. The word is a corruption of the French word groumet, a valet in charge of the wines. It is often used as an adjective for meals of especially high quality, whose makers or preparers have used especial effort or art in presentation or cooking the meal, or for facilities equipped for preparing such meals, such as a restaurant.
Gourmet -- [goor-MAY]
1. One of discriminating palate; a connoisseur of fine food and drink. 2. Gourmet food is that which is of the highest quality, perfectly prepared and artfully presented. 3. A gourmet restaurant is one that serves well-prepared, high-quality food.
So we have two basic definitions: a noun and an adjective. A gourmet is a person of discriminating taste. Gourmet food is one prepared to the highest quality or using special efforts or presentation. And here is why I think that this word is misused.
By those definitions, I am a gourmet when it comes to Barbecue and Mexican food. I am extremely discriminating when it comes to barbecue, especially brisket. I know what's good and what's bad, and I know what is the best. By this definition, almost everyone is a gourmet. Heck, someone could be gourmet on fast food french fries.
Not only am I a gourmet, I cook gourmet food, especially my barbeque. According to the definitions, gourmet food is any that is prepared to highest quality or using special presentation. Both of those are very subjective. If I cook a chicken fried steak and I think it's delicious, then that is gourmet food prepared to its highest quality ... mine. The wiki definition talks about using special efforst or art in presentation or preparation. Hell, it takes me 12 hours to cook a brisket with constant maintenance and observation on the temperature, smoke, and glaze. That's pretty special, if you ask me. And it's darn special when you put it in your mouth.
But when it comes to ... oh let's say ... cakes and cookies, my food is definitely less than gourmet. But I am a gourmet when it comes to eating cakes and cookies. Very discriminating.
So what's your gourmet food? Everyone has one.
Responses to "Food's Most Misused Word" ...
I can't seem to get the word Galloping out of my head...go figure.
Funny how we get so used to the idea of a word that it's meaning begins change...
I like to think of myself as a person with a discriminating palate - although some have used the term "food snob" to describe me ;)
If you take it to excess, you are a gourmand. My chocolates are classified as gourmet due to the high quality and presentation.
I guess I'm a gourmet when it comes to health food and Jewish food.
Speaking of gourmet, the NY Fancy Foods Show starts this Sunday.
My experience tells me that a gourmand is a lover of good food--and who better than he should wear an apron!!! Bon appetit!