For the month of November, CultureMap will celebrate Tastes of the Season, a series dedicated to seasonal eats, local purveyors and the best in holiday fare. But before we dive in, we must gird ourselves for that daunting dining journey and get everyone up to speed. How can we talk about local farms if we still don't know what a CSA is?
To that end, we've assembled a lexicon to get us on the same page about the newest culinary concepts and catchphrases. For each term, we supply the official definition, then follow it up with our own abbreviated translation, to make you an instant foodie in-the-know.
Foodie? What's that? Read on.
What they say: Still too frequently confused with artesian, artisan officially describes things made by hand, in small quantities, using top ingredients. But artisan has become a catchword that implies attention to detail and all-around "better."
What we say: Proof the word has no meaning includes Wendy's artisan egg sandwich, Starbucks artisan ham and cheese panini, and Domino's artisan pizza.
What they say: Most eggs come from chickens crammed into tiny cages, stacked on top of each other, rained on by the manure of other chickens, utter misery. Cage-free means the chickens are not kept in small cages.
What we say: "I've heard chickens have it bad, but eggs are something I must have."
What they say: Eating "clean" is a subjective term, but it's about eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, grass-fed and free-range meats, and no pesticides, junk food, processed foods or sugar.
What we say: Clean is the current version of the '60s natural food movement, for people who wouldn't be caught dead calling themselves "hippies."
What they say: Conventionally raised food is grown with chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones.
What we say: It's what most of us eat.
What they say: Beer produced in small batches by independently owned brewers.
What we say: Small and indie does not equal good.
What they say: CSAs, a.k.a. community supported agriculture, lets consumers buy produce directly from a farmer by making a season-long pact. You sign up and get a box every week of whatever they grow.
What we say: You will learn many new ways to cook zucchini.
Farm to table
What they say: Restaurants use this buzzy phrase to imply that the food being served tonight came from ingredients just delivered by a farm nearby.
What we say: Sysco truck, I see you!
What they say: A "vegetarian" who occasionally consumes animal products such as dairy, eggs, meat or fish.
What we say: Being an "-arian" of some kind sure does make you look cool.
What they say: First seen in the 1984 book The Official Foodie Handbook, the term describes someone who eats out a lot, stays up on chefs and trends, and reads fun foodicles like this.
What we say: The word works because there is no better substitute. Stop crying. Own it.
What they say: This Los Angeles-born concept consists of a truck selling a few favorite "gourmet" items of the young foodie such as tacos, pizza and banh mi.
What we say: (Barely) glorified roach coach.
What they say: One step up from cage-free, a free-range chicken gets five minutes of open-air access per day.
What we say: "Cage-free doesn't seem like enough, but I have seriously got to have those eggs."
What they say: "I haven't actually been tested for gluten sensitivity, but every time I eat flour, I get heartburn and bloated and fatigue and skin rashes."
What we say: Does someone need extra attention?
What they say: Genetically modified organisms are crops that have been genetically engineered to grow better, faster, easier.
What we say: If you eat corn or drink soy milk, you're likely consuming GMOs.
What they say: The cow (or bison) subsists on grass instead of corn, resulting in meat that's leaner with a slightly gamy flavor. It's often sold by smaller companies.
What we say: Beef eaters in search of justification.
What they say: These big, oft-misshapen tomatoes are grown from seeds with a long history.
What we say: $5 a pound!
In the field
What they say: California-based Outstanding in the Field originated this roving dinner conceived to honor our farmers and chefs. Ingredients are supposed to be local and prepared by a celebrated chef. Everyone sups together at a single, long table.
What we say: It boils down to a sous vide dinner, with no elbow room.
What they say: Masters of the bar, they infuse, they steep, they muddle, they float, they "create."
What we say: Bartender with mustache.
What they say: Wizards in the kitchen, they whip up liquid balls of flavor, aromatic foams, smoked potatoes and ice creams flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen.
What we say: Still yearning for the chemistry set they didn't get for Christmas.
What they say: Me strong like my caveman ancestor.
What we say: This year's version of the Atkins diet.
What they say: Chef wraps menu around whatever produce is in season, be it tomatoes in the summer or butternut squash in the winter.
What we say: It's only really true in California, where produce grows year-round.
What they say: Growing food without harming the environment, workers or animals.
What we say: Most humans aren't real good at long-term thinking.
What they say: The mysterious, ineffable "fifth flavor" that's produced by amino acids and nucleotides but comes out tasting meaty or savory.
What we say: This word exists because the words "it tastes like a mushroom" don't sound foodie enough.
What they say: Word meaning "oily" has risen in popularity to accompany its friend pork belly, which it is commonly used to describe.
What we say: This is the go-to word for pompous food-critic wannabes.