If our language reflects our culture, a flood of new food-related words confirms what every cusinomane already knew. In 2015, food obsession reached fever pitch – but with a healthy helping of social consciousness. Oxford English Dictionary cooked up a plateful of new entries this year, including "cakehole," and "cheffy," and Scrabble added words like paczki (23 points), mojito (15 points), and yuzu (16 points), to its Scrabble Tournament and Club Word List.
“We need new words and labels to give voice to our food obsessions and anxieties,” said Josh Friedland, the author of the new book “Eatymology: The Dictionary of Modern Gastronomy” told The New York Times. “And we especially need more words to describe gastronomic emoting,” like “hangry.”
Among the smorgasbord of neologisms entering our vernacular this year is a word describing environmentally-conscious diets, a term for a trendy new Frankenstein-esque dessert, and a word that conveys the concerning methods used to harvest one of America's most popular nuts. Here's a taste of this year's most interesting food words:
Barista Wrist (noun): The wrist strain that java slingers acquire from lifting heavy jugs of milk and making complicated, multi-step drinks on complex machines while working in coffee shops.
One informal survey, on coffee site Sprudge.com, found 55 percent of barista respondents sustained injuries while working in java joints. The bad news: Making something as common as an espresso, which involves stamping the espresso, pushing it into the machine, and turning a knob, something baristas do hundreds of times per day, is taxing on the wrists. The good news: Some coffee shops are making efforts to alleviate the issue by bringing in yoga teachers, therapists, and even changing counter heights.
Related: Tennis elbow, boxer's fracture, golfer's elbow, swimmer's ear.
Blood Cashew (noun): A reference to the potentially troublesome processing conditions of Anacardium occidentale, the cashew nut. A 2011 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report found that in Vietnam, the world's largest exporter of cashews, the popular nut is processed by drug offenders in treatment centers that are actually forced labor camps. Workers, some of whom are children, told HRW of "grueling work, being shocked with electrical batons, beaten by staff and held for months in locked 'punishment rooms.'"
Thanks to publicity about the issue, companies like Ben & Jerry's and Fairfood International have launched postcard drives and petitions to raise awareness and pressure food purveyors to boycott blood cashews and governments to press for change.
Related: Blood diamond.
Brocavore (noun): The uber-hipster food fanatics and locavores characterized by their Y-chromosomes, lumberjack beards, fedoras, and collection of home-fermentation crocks.
Their preferred habitats include whole animal butcher shops and fair trade coffee shops in cities like Brooklyn, Nashville, Oakland, and Portland.
Carrot Mob (noun): A reverse boycott used to organize consumer spending to support businesses that are sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible.
The carrot mob movement began in 2008 and has since grown on social media, where climatarians and socially-conscious consumers organize efforts to buy products from food purveyors that have promised to make improvements in their business practices.
The first Carrotmob campaign happened on March 29, 2008, at K & D Market in San Francisco, CA, when a mob of consumers supported a environmentally-friendly convenience store in the neighborhood.
Climatarian (noun): A person whose diet is designed to slow climate change. Key features of the climatarian diet include eating more pork and poultry rather than beef and lamb, which produce more of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Climatarians also eat locally processed food to reduce food transportation and use every part of an ingredient, like potato peels and carrot tops, to reduce food waste.
Foodspo (noun): A term used to tag particularly beautiful or inspirational pictures of food on Instagram.
Foodspo, a newer version of the now-dated term "food porn," is inspired by the "inspo," Internet shorthand for "inspiration."
Hangry (adjective): The state of being so hungry that you become angry or irritable.
This term, a mashup of hungry and angry, isn't new but was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015, and appears to have scientific merit. A 2011 study of judges in Israel found that the lightness or harshness of their sentencing was influenced by how recently they had eaten lunch.
Piecaken (noun): A multilayered, fascinatingly excessive, Frankenstein-esque dessert in which a pie is baked into a cake, then stacked.
This is one form of engastration, a method of cooking in which one food, usually an animal, is stuffed inside another, before cooking, an ancient practice often performed for festive meals. The predecessor of the piecaken, a term coined by New York chef David Burke, is the "cherpumple," a cherry, pumpkin, and apple pie, stuffed inside a three-layered cake. Its successor may be the pielogen, a mashup of a pecan pie, cheesecake, and yule log.
Zarf (noun): A holder, made of metal or cardboard, for a coffee cup without a handle.
Called a "cup sleeve" in modern times, this recently revived term is actually an ancient Arabic word for an ornamental metal cup holder for handle-less coffee cups, to protect drinkers from super hot cups. The words was added to the American Heritage Dictionary in 2015.