I posted a version of this on Facebook earlier and then deleted it when it annoyed someone over there, but it’s stuck in my head, so here it is.

Food is a major topic in my reading and teevee watching. We watch a lot of cooking shows, and I read a lot of books about food, going beyond cookbooks. Reading about food is often a great backdoor way to learn about other cultures, about history, about people, and more. Everybody eats, right?

But I do have one big pet-peeve that annoys me every time I see it in food writing or in food commentary. That peeve is use of the word inedible to mean “I don’t like this food.”

The most recent example of this, which I saw online earlier, is a chef/restaurateur named David Chang, who is apparently the guy behind the Momofuku chain of restaurants. I’ve heard of Momofuku, and I’ve likely seen Chef Chang at some point on teevee–he has to have shown up on the Food Network or as a guest judge on MasterChef, I would assume. Aside from that, I know nothing about the man, but I saw a link on Facebook to an article where he apparently voiced his negative opinion of the rotisserie chickens at Costco.

Now, I do not have a specific dog in that fight. As admitted, I know nothing about Chef Chang, and I have never tasted a Costco chicken. (As of this writing the Buffalo area still doesn’t even have a Costco, and while one is coming, it will be in the terrible stretch of Niagara Falls Blvd. in Amherst to which we never go.) I have no idea if the chickens are great or not. That’s not the point.

What bugged me is that apparently Chef Chang couldn’t just talk about them being not to his liking, or why he thinks their preparation is lacking, or what errors he thinks Costco makes with the seasoning. Apparently he had to refer to the chickens as inedible.

I have to be honest here: I find that use of inedible really lazy and annoying. There is nothing about those chickens that is “inedible”, unless Chef Chang has some allergy. Whenever a “foodie” uses the word inedible in this way, what I hear is, “My personal palate is so advanced that I cannot bring myself to even swallow this food, and if you can, there is something wrong with you.”

This use of inedible reminds me of an old schtick from the early seasons of Hell’s Kitchen. We still watch this show, even as it’s become really repetitive to the point of being paint-by-numbers. Each season begins with the contestants all being tasked with cooking their “signature dish” for Gordon Ramsay to taste, and he goes through the batch judging each dish and assigning points to the two teams. He’ll say something like “That filet is very well-done, good seasoning, nice job”, or, on the flip side, “The fish is well-cooked, but the puree is bland, too bad.”

Back when the show started, though, Ramsay would have, shall we say, much more dramatic reaction if he didn’t like the dish: He’d take a bite, chew it, then he’d fake gagging, grab a trash can, and do a dramatic rendition of someone vomiting. It was always pretty obvious that he wasn’t actually sickened by the food, and this act has vanished from the show.

That, to me, is the equivalent what calling food inedible just because you don’t like it.

Pizza Hut Pan Pizza is inedible to The Wife, because she’s celiac and it would make her sick. Hemlock is inedible to me and chocolate is inedible to Carla, because those things are poisonous to humans and dogs, respectively. But as much as I hate the stuff, broccoli is not inedible to me.

So, foodies of the world, stop referring to food you dislike as inedible. There are lots of words you can use instead. Yes, maybe this annoys me more than it should, but that’s what a pet-peeve is, right?

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2 Responses to “Inedibility”

  1. Lee McAulay says:

    In my household the pet peeve is when someone says a situation is “unacceptable” – which they go on to do *nothing* about, thereby accepting the situation…

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