Food Names That Are Totally Fake

Some food names that include a region do come from that region. Others don’t.

Samantha Enslen, Writing for
4-minute read
Episode #468

The Accurate or Misleading

Third, there are foods whose names could be accurate or could be misleading. For example

        Darjeeling tea. Technically, “Darjeeling tea” refers only to tea that’s grown and produced in Darjeeling, India; a hill town in the Himalayas. However, this tea isn’t native to Darjeeling. It was brought there from China in 1841 by an English civil servant. And he likely smuggled it in. So is this tea’s moniker a mistake? Hard to say.

        Key lime pie. These tangy pies made with condensed milk were first whipped up in the Florida Keys in the 1850s. Bakers used juice from limes grown on the Keys. Today, however, almost all limes grown in America are Tahitian limes. Key lime pies are usually made with these. So should we still be calling this dessert Key lime pie? Maybe we should try Tahiti lime pie.

        Veal parmigiana. This dish of breaded veal topped with tomato sauce is popular in Italian-American restaurants. The name likely comes from Parmesan cheese, a hard cheese originally made in Parma, Italy. However, there’s no dish like veal parmesan served in Parma. Even worse, veal parmesan is usually topped with mozzarella cheese. Maybe we should start calling this dish veal mozzarella.

In summary, some food names that include a region do come from that region. Others don’t.

Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial. You can find her at dragonflyeditorial.com or on Twitter as @DragonflyEdit.



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Herbst, Ron, and Sharon Tyler Herbst. The Deluxe Food Lovers Companion, 2nd Ed. Barron's Educational Series, 2015. http://bit.ly/1CWW5nG (accessed April 13, 2015).

Ayto, John. The Diners Dictionary: Word Origins of Food. Oxford University Press, 2012. http://bit.ly/1ObhShI (accessed April 13, 2015).

Mariani, John F. “Danish Pastry: A Mistake That Conquered the World.” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 1993. http://lat.ms/1yks7y5 (accessed April 13, 2015).

Mariani, John F. Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink. Bloomsbury USA, 2014. http://bit.ly/1PJ8wxl  (accessed April 13, 2015).

Tea Board of India. Darjeeling Tea. http://bit.ly/1IGc9C9 (accessed April 13, 2015).


Simple Fresh Danish Pastry on a Plate image courtesy of Shutterstock.



About the Author

Samantha Enslen, Writing for Grammar Girl

Samantha Enslen is an award-winning writer who has worked in publishing for more than 20 years. She runs Dragonfly Editorial, an agency that provides copywriting, editing, and design for scientific, medical, technical, and corporate materials. Sam is the vice president of ACES, The Society for Editing, and is the managing editor of Tracking Changes, ACES' quarterly journal.