Menu Reading

Details perfectly describe the era they belong to. The reading of restaurant menus will be a valuable source of information for future anthropologists investigating the way of living at the beginning of the 21st century. After years of a pompous style, haunted by chefs’ inspiring arrays of dishes, a more direct style is now in place, translating the intention to embody truth, simplicity and a form of authenticity…

“Daily specials”, “Fisherman’s platter”, and “Inspiration from the farmer market” tell us nothing – they only pretend to be what they are
 and scare no one. The deletion of verbs, another current fad, is part of the same intent of simplicity and vocabulary renewal, to the point of becoming one of the dominant features of fooding. Barley/Butternut/Boletus. Pork/Buckwheat/Watercress. Like the dots to connect that reveal a drawing, customers need to complete these words to discover the recipe they are going to eat.

And since verbs have left the menus, adjectives have enjoyed the opportunity to take over and activate our taste buds and imagination. Fresh, crispy, creamy, young, tender are at the top of the list, probably because everyone can understand the intention. Perfectjuicyunctuoussilkyyoung: although more difficult to access, are also very common. As for irreplaceableinescapablefamous, or even insane, they can give the feeling that their authors have slightly left the road, as they only engage those who want to believe in them.

As for American English adjectives, they often cross the Atlantic to visit French menus: “cheesy”, “juicy”, “crazy”, “crispy” or “crusty” are the promise of a change of scenery. Finally, let’s mention the Discovery menus that say nothing more than the number of courses, the price and, sometimes, a title. Meals are narrated by the chef or some representative as a welcome sign. They really need to master rhetoric and the art of oratory, otherwise patrons will hear a speech as hollow as a plate. A story where each dish takes the form of a territory to be explored, we’ll start at followed by then we’ll go toand we’ll continue the adventure with to finish the journey in the land of sweets. It can even happen that the chef’s childhood is also evoked as well as the role played by their grandmother… It is no coincidence that we increasingly talk about cuisine d’auteur… 

So What ?

Since the era sets the re-enchantment of the familiar as an expression of modernity, each brand or chain must pay attention to the simplest and quickest way to trigger our imagination: its vocabulary.

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