Merriam-Webster adds 9 new food words in September 2022
The day before yesterday, every time you said “pumpkin spice” or “oat milk” in a sentence, you weren’t saying the actual words. At least not according to Merriam-Webster, America’s nearly two-century-old guardian of the English language. Wednesday, these sentences, with 368 others, have been officially added to the dictionary. Nine terms on this list — which deliciously includes “yeet” and “janky” — are food-related.
According an explainer from the dictionary. Of course, these are just words. But they are also the mirror of our cultural fascinations. The addition of “sessionable” speaks to a low-alcohol beverage boom while “plant-based” speaks to…everyone on the West Coast. And terms like “ras el hanout” and “mojo” represent a diner-focused shift to ancestral cuisine.
Here is the complete list of phrases and some recipes to cook at home.
The definition: “A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and often allspice commonly used in pumpkin pie.”
The scoop: All I can say here is: Starbucks Dunnit. Since the drink’s inception in 2003, the coffee chain’s smooth, harmless, and daringly delicious pumpkin spice latte has iconized the spice blend and made it a curious cultural phenomenon. Both a comforting drink and a emblem of our anxieties around capitalismthis seasonal frenemy is here to stay.
The recipes : Channel your inner autumnal earth angel and bake a batch of toasted, buttered, pumpkin-spiced chocolate chip cookies. Go the extra mile and dunk them in a (gasping) homemade pumpkin spice latte.
The definition: “A series of small portions or courses (from Sushi) offered at a fixed price and the selection of which is left to the discretion of the chef.”
The scoop: The American upscale sushi scene has, to use an objective metric, exploded during the last decade. And omakase, the style of sushi chef-guided tasting menus popularized in the cult 2013 film, Jiro dreams of sushibecame the first prize of the gastronomic elite (by which I mean brothers).
The recipes : If a $500 per person omakase experience seems like overkill in this economy, try making your own at home. Think: spicy tuna rolls, umeboshi-stuffed onigiri, and buttery salted mushroom omusubi.
The definition: “A mixture of ground spices used in North African cooking and including coriander, ginger, turmeric, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne pepper and others spices.”
The scoop: According to Pinterest’s 2022 Trends Report, ancestral foods— basically, “someone’s grandparents’ recipe,” as the site puts it — goes beyond over-the-top dining experiences. And in 2019, the site allegedly reported a 311% increase in searches for African recipes. Luckily for us, a proliferation of direct-to-consumer American spice companies means getting our hands on some ras el hanout has never been so easy.