The alternative dictionary to Manchester life, this time focussing on food
THE inspiration behind this occasional series is the early 20th century book The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce which takes a satirical look at life. It pokes fun at humanity's madness beautifully.
For example; 'Egotist(n.) A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me. Faith(n.) Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. Lawyer (n.) One skilled in circumvention of the law.'
We can’t guarantee the same level of humour but let’s hope we can raise a smile.
The first of the New Manchester Lexicons had a laugh at property and planning in the city.
Amuse bouche, n. Small pointless thing: a colourful exercise in chef vanity.
Authentic, adj. Reminiscent of a particular culture. Ultimately a paradox of purism. Used liberally by people trying to pretend they are from the host food culture.
Award-winning, adj. Blanket term for having received an accolade of any kind, big or small. Example: A member of waiting staff has their Tony The Tiger 50m badge, thus the restaurant is ‘award-winning’.
Atmosphere, n. Noise. Chattering human voices crushed by the bass beat of song in which no words or melody is discernable.
Bottomless brunch, n. Eating and drinking competition whereby customers attempt to justify a set price by consuming as much alcohol as possible whilst nibbling on small rations of food. Popularised by ‘hun’ culture.
Brunch, v. To queue for eggs on toast having woken up late. Not to be confused with ‘breakfast’.
Bread, n. See: sourdough.
Burger, n. Formerly a Jenga-like meat structure decorated with carbohydrates, doused in molten cheese or sauce and dipped with adjectives such as 'hardcore', 'juicy', 'dirty'. Now a simple meat and cheese sandwich which is largely out of fashion this side of Texas.
Crafty Cheeseman, n. Mythical local dairy vendor hell-bent on selling cheese.
Crowdfund, v. The only way to set up something new in hospitality if you don’t have family wealth. Warning: can be addictive.
Criticism, n. Fair if applying to other restaurants, totally without foundation if applying to one’s own restaurant.
Cultural appropriation, adj. The whole history of food which is all the better for it.
Dietary requirements, n. Checked before meal so nobody dies. Scourge of kitchen and waiting staff alike but essential for remaining alive after eating out.
Eatery, (n). Inventive term for restaurant. Drinks equivalent would be ‘drinkery’.
Egg plant, (n). A criminal activity. An occasion during which Manchester’s criminal gangs place eggs in the bags for life of other criminal gangs and then shop them to the police.
Experience, n. Dinner but with additional feature sellotaped to it. Example: a DJ, a man playing the saxophone, some sparklers, a drag queen.
Fish and chips, n. Traditional British food best eaten from a take-away which fortunately could never be called a ‘small plate’.
Foodhall, n. Place to go with multiple people who are unable to decide on a similar cuisine. Akin to being together but sleeping in separate bedrooms. Often pursued by town halls as a regeneration saviour.
Food poisoning, n. An excuse. For a day off. With mates. In another town eating and drinking. Most effective with ‘foreign’ food and casually racist overtone, e.g. “I can’t come in. Food poisoning. Had a bad curry last night. See you tomorrow.”
Fusion, n. Uncertainty. Usually refers to Frankensteinian mix of cuisines. Handy red flag. Example: “What style of food should we cook? British, Spanish, Chinese, Thai… Oh, I know Fusion.”
Gorgonzola, n. A French novelist or Italian football player carrying the head of a vicious female monster from Greek mythology with sharp fangs and the hair of living, venomous snakes. The head can also turn you to stone.
Halloumi, n. A cheese to be fried and placed on the menus of chefs who can’t cook vegetarian food very well and can’t be arsed anyway.
Hospitality crisis, n. Any ongoing reality.
Huns, n. Female demographic with inflated lips that enjoy their cocktails served in a glass shoe and gold leaf sushi on the menu. Often sighted in front of flower walls and amongst pornstar martini trees.
Interior design, n. Industrial concrete and Scandinavian minimalism. Aka, cheap.
Independent, n. Independent, maybe independent, not really independent at all, or totally meaningless but good for marketing. Part of copy and paste new restaurant checklist.
Jay Rayner, n. A rare creature. A national newspaper restaurant critic based in the south who visits the north.
Kale, n. Tough and chewy. Apparently ‘kale is loaded with powerful antioxidants, Vitamin A, K, B6, C, potassium and manganese’. Best give it to the sheep and the cows then.
Local produce, n. Food that hasn’t seen the interior of a plane or boat and which might come from down the road, but let’s not be pedantic, might come from 150 miles away.
Locally sourced, n. Locally sourced, maybe locally sourced, not really locally sourced or totally meaningless but good for marketing. Part of copy and paste new restaurant checklist.
Mange tout n. Have you got a skin disease as well?
Masterchef, n. One of multiple TV cookery competitions. Not to be confused with working your way through the industry. Can go to your head.
Microherbs, n. Herbs for ants.
Michelin Guide, n. Celebrated restaurant guide originally invented to sell tyres. Mascot is the hench, estranged European sibling of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man made famous by Ghostbusters (1984). Bit tight when it comes to giving out stars in Manchester.
Mouthfeel, n. Bad food writer. Any critic who uses the phrasal noun ‘mouthfeel’ should be made to work as a KP for twelve months and be told to wash their mouths out.
Mushroom, n. No, idea about this one, but hey man, look at Beetham Tower it’s all different colours and now it’s waving at me.
Music, n. Noise. In many restaurants managers and owners seem to believe music volume in the evening should interfere with your meal and deny all conversation.
Noma, (1) n. Celebrated restaurant in Copenhagen. Handy for putting on your CV, even if you’ve never worked there.
Noma, (2) n. A restaurant in Copenhagen, a redevelopment area in Manchester.
Oatmilk, n. An effective way to ruin coffee with a liquid that in no way resembles milk.
Organic, n. Organic, maybe organic, a bit organic, marketing.
Petit pois, n. really trivial peas.
Plant-based (1) n. A lovely picnic in a grassy meadow under a shady oak tree.
Plant-based (2) n. An excuse. A phrasal noun substitute for vegetarianism because apparently the word vegetarian threatens people.
Pop-up, n. Fleeting food vendor appearance. Some may go on to restaurant fame.
Quinoa n. Any unpronounceable word the purpose of which is hard to define.
Rocket n. A green mountain of bitter despair. Rocket amounts to a chef’s method of making an anaemic dish gain more colour by heaping an unfeasible mound of bitter brassica on, say, sea bass.
Small plates, n. Something of which there is too much while not providing enough. Small plates are often seen as a substitute for a good square meal when it isn’t.
Seabass, n. Fish. There are seemingly endless seabass stocks in the world which is why its poor shrivelled, often scorched, form appears on every low-grade menu in the UK.
Seafood, n. An almost absence. The UK is surrounded by the sea, it’s an island you see, yet strangely there is not a single seafood specialist restaurant in Manchester which is 35 miles from the sea.
Seasonal produce, n. Seasonal, maybe seasonal, not really seasonal or totally meaningless but good for marketing. Part of copy and paste new restaurant checklist.
Seitan, n. The only thing that when eaten blindfolded doesn’t taste like chicken.
Seitan, n. An invocation. If said out loud three times summons the devil.
Sourdough, (1) adj. Ubiquitous or boring. A foodstuff which like God is everywhere.
Sourdough, (2) n. Gum-bleeding razor crust food.
Streetfood, (1) n. Food never to be sold on an actual street but in a food hall. With chips. Otherwise there's no profit.
Streetfood, (2) v. A verb to describe bored middle-class professionals who think they can easily prepare, cook and make money with, say, Lebanese/Levantine cuisine in a food hall after a two-day cookery school. Inevitably and very quickly they find themselves out of pocket. E.g. Jeremy streetfooded his savings away on baba ghanouj and now cooks beans on toast alone in his bedsit.
Sustainable, n. Sustainable, maybe sustainable, not really sustainable, totally meaningless but good for marketing. Part of copy and paste new restaurant checklist.
Sushi, n. A Japanese style of food which most sushi restaurants in the UK have no idea how to prepare and serve.
Tapas, n. A culprit. First there were genuine Spanish tapas, then tapas morphed into ‘Italian tapas’ and even ‘British tapas’ and now everybody is doing ‘small plates’.
Truffle oil, n. Foul smelling, something which has the quality of a sewage works.
Tipping, v. The practice of giving additional money to waiting staff, separate to the price of the meal, for putting up with your and everyone else’s bullshit on a daily basis.
‘To die for’, phrase. Bad food critic referring to sugary desserts and a person hidebound by clichés. Editors need to sack them. Quickly.
To go, adj, v. Take-away. In the UK we say ‘take-away’ unless one is planning a holiday in the west African republic of Togo in which case it’s entirely reasonable.
TripAdvisor, n. The method by which a family-run restaurant can boost its international profile.
TripAdvisor, v. A method by which mean-minded people can say cruel things concerning trivial faults. Example: ‘Everything was perfect about the meal but I found a great opportunity to tripadvisor the restaurant when I found they had forgotten to tell me I was a busybody with no talent who likes to slag places off for tiny faults and then tell my friends how witty and clever I am.’
Utensil, whole sentence: An enquiry to a person who is still very anxious.
Vegan bacon, n. A lie or a hotchpotch, as with any meat substitute. Some gloop pretending to be meat is weird. There are no carnivore parsnips for sale: pretend parsnips made from reconstituted tripe. There’s a reason why meat doesn’t pretend to be a vegetable.
Veganuary, n. Commercially invented month-tag so brands and retailers who also sell meat have another marketing opportunity.
Vegetarian, n. A person who has been re-identified as plant-based, see above.
Vowel, n. An occasionally useless letter. Very fashionable to leave out of a restaurant or bar name to denote perceived exclusivity and some crap about social media use. For example in Mnchstr: MNKY HSE, BLVD, EXHBTN.
Wagyu beef, cn. Huge personal wealth. Sting once said "a cocaine habit is God's way of telling you you've got too much money". As cocaine is so rife the sentence now applies to Wagyu beef.
Xacuti, n. A curry dish from Goa, India, which is in this lexicon because it begins with the letter X.
Yuzu, n. A fine Japanese restaurant in Chinatown, Manchester, included in this lexicon because it begins with the letter Y.
Zucchini, n. A courgette, which is in this lexicon because it begins with the letter Z.
Read next: New Manchester Lexicon: Planning and Property
Read again: Fab Café was doing nostalgia years before everyone else
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