Written by adam on Oct 16, 2006
Food Dictionary: Savory
"I'm going to put some some of my homemade seasoning on this batch of chips, which will give it a savory flavor." --- Paula Deen, talking about her garlic and salt seasoning
"The sauce is so delicious and savory ... mmmm .. it's so good!" --- Giada de Laurentiis, describing her sweet gnocchi with cinnamon butter.
Modern food-speak has recently seen a surge in the usage of the word savory. I have seen and heard it pop up all over the world of food. From boxes of "sweet and savory" snacks to the above quotes by my my favorite food ladies, Paula Deen and Giada de Laurentiis, savory has become the delicious of our time. It must have been kismet that I have been pondering the usage of the term when my food ladies invoke it within the same half-hour on television
But as is par for most words, especially when it comes to marketing and hype, it is being misused. In Paula's quote, the usage is accurate. But in Giada's, it is not. Let's find out why.
Savory; n. An herb of which there are two types, summer and winter, both closely related to the mint family. Savory has an aroma and flavor reminiscent of a cross between thyme and mint. Summer savory is slightly milder than the winter variety but both are strongly flavored and should be used with discretion. Dried savory is available year-round; fresh savory can be found in specialty produce markets. Savory adds a piquant flavor to many foods including PÂTÉS, soups, meat, fish and bean dishes. See also HERBS; HERB AND SPICE CHART. Savory adj. A term describing food that is not sweet but rather piquant and full-flavored.
I have to admit that the noun definition was foreign to me until I read it. I do not normally consider savory to be an herb. You have to go all the way to the bottom of the definition to find the the way food-speak has been using it. A term describing food that is not sweet, but piquant and full-flavored.
That's rather dubious definition. You'd have to define piquant and full-flavored before you could understand savory. Piquant means agreeably pungent or sharp in taste, but full-flavored could be considered a matter of opinion.
The way that media and marketing have been using the term savory is really in reference to the saltiness of the food. Sweet and Savory really means sweet and salty. It's that simple.
Paula's quote is accurate since her seasoning included garlic, a rather pungent and sharp flavor. However, Giada was wrong in saying savory, because the gnocchi was in a sugary sweet sauce. Not that we care what she says, just as long as she's reaching over the countertop to get that pepper grinder.
Responses to "Food Dictionary: Savory" ...
Tsk, tsk, tsk. Now, dear. You know better than to get into a word discussion with me. Poor, poor Giada. Being picked on by the likes of you . . . The girl DID use the word savory correctly. This is a word that my students learned earlier this semester. So, needless to say it caught my eye when you brought it up.
Sweetie, you forgot to check Big Blue. The first definition listed for the adjective form is "pleasing to the taste or smell; appetizing." "Salty or piquant, not sweet, as a relish" is a mere fourth place listing.
So, let's take a poll, folks. Does Giada know her savory?
Durn it, boy! Doesn't this blog let comment writers used simple HTML? Or did I just doof it up and forget how to do it correctly? Remember, having babies uses up brain cells. I have an excuse . . .
I'm with Adam on this one... According to the Oxford University definition, savory is first listed as salty or spicy rather than sweet.
Other dictionaries list common usage. If you go by the logic that if it's used that way, that's what it is, then Giada is right. However, sports announcers would cause all kinds of problems if we accepted their definitions of words just because they use them that way. (Defensing isn't a word listed in the Oxford dictionary, but somehow makes it into the Webster dictionary).
Yes! Curt, you get extra points for refuting my wife.
Are you making reference to the revered OED? The one that I have dreamed about for YEARS, the one that my hubbie has not yet purchased for me?
See, honey, this is why I NEED an OED. Or at least a subscription to the online OED. Big Blue is great, but . . .
"I do not think that word means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride
I am just tickled pink that people are actually looking up words to see what they mean before they use them. I get sick of women calling them selves "Divas" like it's a good thing or people asking me to "conversate". You can't just make up a meaning for a word just because you like the way it sounds.
Savory is an herb. To say that something has a savory flavor is saying that it has a flavor the resembles the taste of that herb. It's not just the opposite of sweet.
Ok, Neil, with that line of reasoning, "bear" only means a big animal that likes to eat people. Unfortunately, in English, words often have multiple meanings. But I think for the most part, established words can stand as they are without making up 1. new definitions for existing words or 2. new words to mean what existing words already mean, just because of being lazy.
And I agree on the "diva" thing...