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Just Point at It: A List of My Least Favourite Foods to Pronounce

Sometimes eating healthily can be difficult. No, not necessarily choosing healthy options – I’m talking about the crippling anxiety about saying some of those ‘healthy food’ names aloud in a restaurant for the first time. Give me any other embarrassing social situation: tripping on the stairs, wearing pyjamas to work, forgetting the name of someone who I really should remember… but please, for the love of all that is good, don’t make me say “Açaí berry” in public.


Correct Pronunciation: eh-duh-MAA-mei

My main beef (food pun) with edamame is the sheer number of vowels present in the word. When more than half of your letters are vowels, you’re likely to have pronunciation challenges. Seriously – a bunch of these other words back up that claim but you’ll get to them in a minute. I’m not usually a bean person (be fully prepared for me to write a post at some point about how this was my ‘punishment’ vegetable growing up) – but if I need a great source of protein and fibre, I’ll maybe go for regular, easily-pronounceable ‘butter beans’ instead. Better yet, no beans at all. Yuck.


Correct Pronunciation: KEEN-wah

Six letters – four vowels. Did your brain also short-circuit the first time you saw ‘quinoa’ spelled? That feeling is nothing – nothing – compared to hearing to pronounced out loud. Just as your tongue was ready to make a go of it with “quinn-oh-wah”, that sneaky ‘K’ opening slaps the syllables right out of your mouth.



Need a soup idea for inspiration? Try this Quinoa, Chickpea and Lima Bean soup recipe!


Correct Pronunciation: ah-sah-EE

Man, remember in 2010 when, like, everything boasted about Açaí berry being the coolest superfood in the world? What happened? Being the good millennial that I am, I went along with that latest superfood trend in those days with the hope that smoothies made with Açaí would flush my toxins, destroy carcinogens, and make my hair more luscious. However, my social awkwardness won out in the end and my poor pronunciation made it impossible to convince myself to order anything with Açaí… maybe that’s what happened after 2010: we were all too afraid to say “Açaí” in public and the trend just died out.


Correct Pronunciation: boo-yuh-BESS

This list of difficult-to-pronounce-foodstuffs would be wholly incomplete without a word of French origin, wouldn’t it? This one is something that I am happy to struggle through in pronouncing because it’s right up my alley. For those of you who don’t know, bouillabaisse is a fish and shellfish stew with a tomato base – and something I would happily eat every single day until I die from eating too much shellfish.


Correct Pronunciation: VISH-ees-WAHZ

Okay – it wasn’t my intention to mention potatoes in every single blog post I write… but maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something. Either way, this cold potato and leek soup, originating from Vichy, France, seems almost custom-made for English tongues to trip over it. Intentional? Maybe.


Potato with Microgreens and Turnip soup recipe


Correct Pronunciation: WOO-stir-shire

Let it not be said that the English can’t make some wildly unpronounceable foods themselves – and Worcestershire Sauce is the best example. This classic sauce is named after the West Midlands county where it originated – but due to regional pronunciation, Worcester is actually pronounced like “Wooster”.

And if you thought these were tough, then head on over to my list of South African foods to enjoy. The real joke here is that I can pronounce everything on that page…so perhaps practice makes perfect!


Photo: Camila Neves Rodrigues da Silva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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Tayla Blaire

Tayla Blaire is a South African writer, teacher, epicurean, and (most importantly) mother to all cats. Tayla has been thinking (and subsequently writing) about food since she was a tiny tot after her mother taught her that measuring ingredients was for the weak. If you’re interested to see what Tayla has whipped up recently, check out her Instagram profile @tayla.blaire to see the recipes that she has lovingly filmed in her very own too-small kitchen.

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