There’s no better way to make a fool of oneself in a restaurant than by horribly butchering the pronunciation of a menu item. Whether you’re on a date or just attempting to sound like you know what you’re talking about, it’s always good to know how to properly pronounce the item you’re attempting to order. In the interest of public service, we’ve rounded up 15 of the most commonly mispronounced menu items, along with the proper way to say them.

The foods we eat has roots all around the globe, and therefore so do their names. Just like any foreign word can be difficult to pronounce if you’re not familiar with the language, navigating restaurant menu of foreign cuisine can be a linguistic minefield.

Some menu items are legitimately hard to pronounce, especially the French ones or legitimate head-scratchers like Worcestershire. But other words fall into the “nuclear” camp: it’s not that difficult to pronounce it properly, but for some reason — force of habit? — people choose to pronounce it “nooc-yoo-lar” instead of the correct “noo-clee-ar.” Hint: your favorite fast-casual burrito joint is pronounced “chip-oat-lay,” not “chip-ole-tee.”

Also keep in mind that you’re not on your own; if you find yourself desperate to order that bouillabaisse but don’t want to sound like a fool, there’s no harm in asking your server how it’s pronounced. Trust me, it’s far less embarrassing to ask how something is pronounced than to throw caution to the wind and chance it yourself, only to be sternly corrected by the server (or even worse, your date). So read on to learn how to properly say 15 of the most commonly mispronounced menu items.

1. Bouillabaisse



This traditional French fish stew is about as difficult to pronounce as it is to spell, but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy. It’s pronounced “BOO-yah-base.” Boo yah!

2. Bruschetta


italian bruschetta with tomato,basil and cheese on purple plate (iStock)

While we tend to think of bruschetta as toast with diced tomatoes on it, “bruschetta” is actually the name for the toast itself, and it can be topped with pretty much anything. While plenty of people pronounce it “brush-etta,” the proper Italian pronunciation is “bruce-KAY-tuh.”

3. Caipirinha


At first glance, the name of Brazil’s national cocktail (a combination of a sugar cane-based liquor called cachaça, sugar, and lime) is just a jumble of letters, and that H in there doesn’t help either. But keep in mind that “ha” in Portuguese is pronounced “yah” and it becomes a little easier to say. It’s “kye-peer-EEN-yah.”

4. Charcuterie


The overarching name given to all prepared meat products, like salami, pâté, and cured ham, charcuterie is another French tongue-twister. It’s pronounced “shar-KOO-tuh-ree.”

5. Espresso


You can tell just by looking at this word that there’s no X in it, but some people still pronounce it “expresso.” It’s pronounced “es-press-oh,” just what it looks like.

6. Chipotle


We’re not sure why some people still insist on pronouncing this smoked jalapeño “chip-ole-tey,” but if you do, stop it right now. It’s “chip-oat-lay,” and it’s really not that difficult.

7. Gnocchi

Homemade gnocchi

Homemade potato gnocchi covered with flour on a wooden table, shallow depth of field (iStock)

Remember Curly from the Three Stooges’ “nyuk nyuk nyuk”? Just remember that next time you see this on a menu and you’ll be fine. Don’t even attempt to pronounce the G; you say the word “nyuk-ee.”

8. Guanciale


This Italian cured pork cheek or jowl is nothing short of delicious, but certainly tricky to pronounce. It may take a little practice, but it’s pronounced “gwan-chee-AH-lay.”

Check out what other food and menu names you may not be pronouncing correctly.

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