55 Most Commonly Mispronounced American & Foreign Foods

Pronunciation can be difficult, especially when it comes to the names of different traditional foods around the world that are commonly eaten in the United States.  With the array of American and foreign cuisines, it’s no surprise that certain hard food names can present a tongue-twisting word challenge for many. From Acai (a-sah-ee) to Worcestershire (woos-ter-sheer) I am are unraveling the mysteries behind some of the most commonly mispronounced foods.

The Names of Mispronounced Foods (Difficult Food Words!)

The Names of Mispronounced Foods (Difficult Food Words!)


1. Acai (a-sah-ee) Listen

Acai (a-sah-ee) is a small, dark purple fruit native to the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. It is known for its rich antioxidant content and is often consumed as a frozen pulp or in smoothie bowls due to its refreshing and nutritious properties.


2. Aïoli (ay-OH-lee) Listen

Aïoli (ay-OH-lee) is a traditional Mediterranean sauce made by emulsifying garlic, olive oil, and egg yolks. It has a creamy texture and a distinct garlic flavor, often served as a condiment or dip for various dishes, such as seafood, vegetables, or bread.


3. Arugula (ah-roo-gu-la) Listen

Arugula, also known as rocket or rucola, is a leafy green vegetable with a peppery and slightly bitter taste commonly used in salads and as a garnish for various dishes.

Arugula

4. Au jus (oh-ZHOO) Listen

Au jus is a French culinary term that means “with juice” and refers to a meat dish served with its natural juices or a light sauce made from those juices, enhancing the flavor and moistness of the meat.


5. Bánh Mì (banh-mee) Listen

Bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich that typically consists of a crusty baguette filled with various ingredients such as grilled meats, pickled vegetables, cilantro, and chili peppers, creating a delicious combination of flavors and textures.

Banh Mi

6. Biscotti (bee-SKOH-teeh) Listen

Biscotti is an Italian twice-baked cookie that is crispy, dry, and typically flavored with ingredients like almonds, anise, or citrus zest, making it perfect for dipping into coffee or dessert wine.

Biscotti

7. Boeuf Bourguignon (BEUFF boor-gee-NYAWN) Listen

Boeuf Bourguignon is a classic French beef stew made with tender chunks of beef braised in red wine, along with vegetables such as onions, carrots, and mushrooms, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish often served with crusty bread or potatoes.


8. Bouillon(boo-yawn) Listen

Bouillon is a flavorful broth or stock made by simmering meat, vegetables, and seasonings in water, often used as a base for soups, sauces, or gravies to enhance their taste and provide depth of flavor.


9. Bruschetta (broo-SKEH-tah) Listen

Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer consisting of toasted bread slices that are typically rubbed with garlic, topped with fresh ingredients such as diced tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, and drizzled with olive oil, creating a delicious combination of flavors and textures.


10. Cacao (ka-cow) Listen

Cacao refers to the raw and unprocessed form of chocolate obtained from the cacao tree’s seeds. It is used to produce chocolate products and has a rich, slightly bitter taste often associated with dark chocolate.


11. Celeriac (sel-air-ee-ack) Listen

Celeriac, also known as celery root, is a root vegetable with a knobby, bulbous appearance and a mild, nutty flavor. It is often used in cooking and can be enjoyed raw in salads, pureed in soups, or roasted as a side dish.


12. Charcuterie (shahr-KOO-tuhr-ee) Listen

Charcuterie is a French term that refers to a selection of cured or processed meats, such as salami, prosciutto, and pâté, along with an assortment of accompanying items like cheese, fruits, nuts, and bread, presented on a platter for a delightful and visually appealing appetizer or snack.

Charcuterie

13. Chipotle (chi-poht-lay) Listen

Chipotle is a popular ingredient in Mexican cooking, obtained by smoking and drying ripe jalapeño peppers. It adds a distinctive smoky and spicy flavor to dishes, making it a versatile and flavorful addition to salsas, marinades, and other Mexican-inspired recipes.


14. Ciabatta (chah-bah-tah) Listen

Ciabatta is an Italian bread characterized by its elongated, flat shape, light and airy interior, and crisp crust. It is known for its versatility and is often used for making sandwiches or served alongside soups and salads.

Ciabatta

15. Coq au vin (coke-oh-veh) Listen

Coq au vin is a classic French dish that involves braising chicken in red wine, along with onions, mushrooms, and herbs, resulting in a flavorful and rich stew-like preparation.

Coq au vin

16. Croissant (kwa-son) Listen

A croissant is a flaky and buttery French pastry made from layered dough. Its crescent shape and golden exterior give it a distinctive appearance, and it is commonly enjoyed for breakfast or as a snack.


17. Crudites (crew-da-tay) Listen

Crudité is a French term referring to a selection of raw vegetables, such as carrot sticks, celery, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper strips, that are often served as an appetizer accompanied by a dip or dressing for a refreshing and crunchy snack.


18. Edamame (eh-duh-maa-may) Listen

Edamame are young soybeans that are commonly served as a Japanese snack. The bright green pods are typically boiled or steamed and served as a nutritious and popular appetizer or snack, often seasoned with salt.


19. Espresso (es-press-o, no ex) Listen

Espresso is a strong and concentrated coffee drink created by pressurizing hot water through finely ground coffee beans. Its rich flavor and intense aroma make it a popular choice for coffee lovers who enjoy a bold and invigorating caffeine kick.  It is known for its strong flavor, rich crema, and is the base for various coffee drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos.

Espresso

20. Focaccia (foh-cahtch-ah) Listen

Focaccia is an Italian flatbread that is typically baked in the oven and seasoned with olive oil, salt, and various toppings such as herbs, tomatoes, olives, or cheese. It has a soft and chewy texture and is often enjoyed as an appetizer or accompaniment to meals.


21. Foie Gras (fwaa graa) Listen

Foie gras is a gourmet delicacy crafted from the liver of ducks or geese. This luxurious food product is known for its rich and buttery texture, often enjoyed as a decadent addition to upscale culinary creations.


22. Gnocchi (NYOH-kee) Listen

Gnocchi are small, soft dumplings made from potatoes, flour, and sometimes eggs, resulting in a dense yet delicate texture. They are typically boiled and served with various sauces, such as tomato or pesto, and are a popular Italian dish.


23. Gyoza (gee-oh-zuh) Listen

Gyoza is a Japanese dumpling typically filled with ground meat (such as pork or chicken), vegetables, and seasonings. They are usually pan-fried and served with a dipping sauce, making them a delicious and popular appetizer or side dish.

Gyoza

24. Gyro (YEER-oh) Listen

A gyro is a Greek dish consisting of thinly sliced, seasoned meat (often lamb, beef, or chicken) that is typically served in a pita bread with various toppings and a yogurt-based sauce, such as tzatziki. It is a popular street food known for its savory flavors.

Gyro

25. Herb (erb) Listen

Herbs are plants valued for their culinary, medicinal, or aromatic properties. They are typically used as flavorings or garnishes in cooking, and examples include basil, thyme, rosemary, and cilantro.


26. Hummus (homm-us) Listen

Hummus is a popular Middle Eastern dip or spread made from mashed cooked chickpeas blended with ingredients like tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. It has a creamy texture and is often enjoyed with pita bread or as a versatile ingredient in various recipes.

Hummus

27. Jalapeño (Ha-luh-pee-nyow) Listen

Jalapeño is a type of chili pepper originating from Mexico, known for its moderate to hot spiciness. It is commonly used in various cuisines to add flavor and heat to dishes like salsas, sauces, and spicy foods.


28. Jicama (Hee-kah-ma) Listen

Jicama is a root vegetable with a crisp and crunchy texture, similar to that of an apple or water chestnut. It has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is often enjoyed raw in salads, slaws, or as a refreshing snack.


29. Kefir (keh-fear) Listen

Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is similar to yogurt but thinner in consistency. It is made by introducing kefir grains, a combination of bacteria and yeast, into milk, resulting in a tangy and probiotic-rich beverage.


30. Kombucha (com-boo-cha) Listen

Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage made by fermenting sweetened black or green tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria known as a SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast). It is known for its tangy flavor, effervescence, and potential health benefits.


31. Lychee  (lee-Chee) Listen

Lychee is a tasty tropical fruit known for its floral and sweet flavor. This luscious fruit is cherished for its juicy texture and unique taste profile, making it a delightful treat enjoyed both fresh and in various culinary creations.


32. Macaron (mah-kuh-ROHN) Listen

A macaron is a delicate French pastry made from almond flour, egg whites, and sugar, creating a crisp shell with a soft and chewy interior. It is often filled with ganache, buttercream, or fruit preserves, and comes in a variety of flavors and vibrant colors.


33. Mascarpone (mass-car-po-nay) Listen

Mascarpone is a creamy and smooth Italian cheese with a high fat content, known for its rich and indulgent flavor. It is often used in desserts like tiramisu or as a luxurious topping for fruits and pastries.

Mascarpone

34. Mole (MOH-lay) Listen

Mole is a classic Mexican sauce that is known for its complex and rich flavors. It typically contains a variety of ingredients, such as chili peppers, spices, nuts, seeds, and chocolate, resulting in a thick and savory sauce that is used in various traditional Mexican dishes.

Mole

35. Moussaka (moo-sah-KAH) Listen

Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that consists of layered eggplant or potato slices, ground meat (usually lamb), and a rich tomato sauce. It is typically topped with a creamy béchamel sauce and baked to perfection, resulting in a hearty and flavorful casserole.

Moussaka

36. Muffuletta (Muh-fuh-leh-tuh) Listen

Muffuletta is a type of sandwich originating from New Orleans, Louisiana. It is made with a round loaf of bread filled with various Italian cold cuts, cheeses, and a tangy olive salad, creating a flavorful and substantial sandwich.

Muffuletta

37. Nicoise (nee-swaahz) Listen

Niçoise refers to a style of cuisine that originates from Nice, France. It often features ingredients such as tuna, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, olives, and anchovies, and is commonly used to describe a salad with these components, known as a Salade Niçoise.

Nicoise

38. Paella (pie-aye-ya) Listen

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that originally came from the Valencia region of Spain. It is a flavorful rice dish cooked in a wide, shallow pan and typically includes ingredients such as saffron, vegetables, meat (such as chicken or rabbit), seafood, and various seasonings.

Paella

39. Panzanella (panz-a-nella) Listen

Panzanella is an Italian bread salad that typically includes stale bread, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is a refreshing and rustic dish that highlights the flavors of summer.

Panzanella

40. Pappardelle (pa-par-deh-lay) Listen

Pappardelle is a type of pasta originating from Italy that is characterized by its wide and flat ribbons or noodles. It pairs well with rich and hearty sauces, such as ragù or creamy mushroom sauce, and its broad shape allows it to hold and capture flavors effectively.

Pappardelle

41. Parmesan (par-ma-zan) Listen

Parmesan is a hard and aged Italian cheese with a distinctive nutty and savory flavor. It is typically grated or shaved over dishes like pasta, salads, and soups, adding a rich and savory element to the overall taste.

Parmesan

42. Pho (fuh) Listen

Pho is a Vietnamese soup consisting of a flavorful broth, rice noodles, and various ingredients such as thinly sliced beef or chicken, bean sprouts, herbs, and lime. It is often garnished with condiments like sriracha, hoisin sauce, and fresh herbs, creating a comforting and aromatic dish.

Pho

43. Pinot Noir (pee-no nwahr) Listen

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety known for producing elegant and light to medium-bodied wines. It is often associated with flavors of red berries, cherries, and earthy undertones, and is widely produced in regions such as Burgundy, France, and the Willamette Valley, Oregon.


44. Poke (po-kay) Listen

Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish that typically features raw, marinated fish (such as tuna or salmon) served over a bowl of rice or mixed greens. It is often seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, and various toppings like seaweed, avocado, and onions, creating a fresh and flavorful combination.

Poke

45. Poutine (poo-tin) Listen

Poutine is a Canadian dish that consists of french fries topped with cheese curds and smothered in a rich brown gravy. It is a popular comfort food known for its indulgent and savory flavors.


46. Prosciutto (proh-SHOO-toe) Listen

Prosciutto is a dry-cured Italian ham that is typically thinly sliced and served uncooked. It has a delicate, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a rich, salty flavor, making it a popular ingredient in charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and antipasto platters.


47. Quinoa (keen-wah) Listen

Quinoa is a nutrient-rich grain-like seed that originated in the Andean region of South America. It has a mild, nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture, and it is often used as a versatile ingredient in salads, side dishes, and as a substitute for rice or grains in various recipes.

Quinoa

48. Radicchio (rah-DIK-ee-oh) Listen

Radicchio is a type of leafy vegetable with vibrant red or purple leaves and a slightly bitter taste. It is commonly used in salads and adds color, texture, and a distinct flavor to dishes.


49. Rooibos (roy-bis) Listen

Rooibos, also known as red bush tea, is a herbal tea made from the leaves of the Aspalathus linearis plant native to South Africa. It has a naturally sweet and nutty flavor, is caffeine-free, and is enjoyed for its soothing properties and potential health benefits.

Rooibos

50. Rutabaga (roo-ta-bay-ga) Listen

Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip, featuring a sweet and earthy flavor. It is commonly used in soups, stews, roasted dishes, or mashed as a side dish, and is known for its versatility and nutritional value.


51. Sriracha (See-rah-cha) Listen

Sriracha, the fiery chili sauce that traces its roots back to Thailand, is crafted using a potent combination of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. This zesty condiment delivers a perfect balance of heat and flavor, adding a punch of spiciness to a wide array of dishes and culinary creations.


52. Tapenade (ta-pa-nad) Listen

Tapenade is a flavorful spread or dip that originated in the Mediterranean region, particularly in Provence, France. It is traditionally made from a combination of black olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, and olive oil, resulting in a savory and briny mixture that is often enjoyed on bread, crackers, or as a condiment in various recipes.


53. Turmeric (ter-me-rick) Listen

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice commonly used in cooking and traditional medicine. It is known for its earthy and slightly bitter flavor and is often used as a seasoning or coloring agent in dishes, as well as in beverages like turmeric tea or golden milk.

Turmeric

54. Vichyssoise (vee-she-swaaz) Listen

Vichyssoise is a classic French cold soup made from puréed leeks, potatoes, cream, and chicken or vegetable broth. It is typically served chilled and garnished with fresh herbs, offering a creamy and refreshing flavor.


55. Worcestershire (woos-ter-sheer) Listen

Worcestershire sauce is a tangy and savory condiment commonly used in cooking and as a table sauce. It is made from a fermented blend of vinegar, molasses, anchovies, spices, and other flavorings, creating a complex and distinctive taste that adds depth and umami to a variety of dishes.


In conclusion, the pronunciation of traditional food names from around the world, commonly enjoyed in the United States, can be a difficult task. With the vast array of American and foreign cuisines, it is not surprising that certain food words can leave us tongue-tied! But, you are now one step ahead of the game. 

From the exotic Acai (a-sah-ee) to the perplexing Worcestershire (woos-ter-sheer), we have delved into the mysteries surrounding some of the most frequently mispronounced foods. So, now you are ready to tackle some new restaurants and everything on your foodie bucket list.


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11 thoughts on “55 Most Commonly Mispronounced American & Foreign Foods”

  1. I totally wouldn't have known how any of these were pronounced if I hadn't watched every episode of Top Chef. Which is good, cause when I watch any of the Real Housewives shows on Bravo my vocabulary drops at least 20 points.

    Reply
  2. I mispronounce Bruschetta but I have a real pet peeve when people mispronounce Gyros; I always correct them!

    Reply
    • LOL! My restaurant is known for our Bruschettas and when I pronounce it correctly people look at me like I’m crazy! If 95% of our customers are saying it incorrectly, shouldn’t that be the correct way?

      Reply
  3. My husband's mother is Italian and they hate when people say "bruschetta" wrong – but everyone else in North America pronounces it that way and I feel stupid saying it the Italian way. Especially since 90% of the time someone "corrects" me back to the wrong way….if any of that made sense. Haha.

    Reply
    • LOL! I own an Italian restaurant and even I have to pronounce it the North American way or the customers look at me weird.

      Reply
  4. Chorizo is a common one for me. Often pronounced “Choritzo” or “choriZo” (straight up going with the Z sound. It’s a Spanish word, “cho-ri-tho”

    Reply
  5. I LOVE this….Pappardelle was one I was pronouncing wrong. My bad. Thank you for the proper pronunciation!

    My biggest complaint is hearing many Food Network chefs/cooks pronounce Mascarpone incorrectly and when they say “Vinegar-ette” for Vinaigrette. I could scream! Thank you for this blog!

    Reply

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