If Your Food’s Better, Why Describe It The Same Way Everyone Else Does? (Part 4)

An op-ed by Charlie Hopper (excerpted from the Fall 2011 issue of Food & Drink magazine)

(…continued from yesterday’s post)

Step Three: Forbid Your Writer From Using the Following 12 Words or Phrases.

1. Sumptuous. 2. Succulent. 3. Delectable. 4. Delicious. 5. Satisfying. 6. Heapin’ Helpin’ 5. Treat Your Tastebuds 6. Taste Sensation.  7. Taste Celebration. 8. Taste Explosion. 9. Tender Flaky. 10. Golden Brown 11. Slathered. 12. Smothered.

I’m sympathetic. I know what deadlines are like. I get why you (all of you) keep using the same words over and over.

Read your menu. How many times do the same describer words show up? Just stop using them. By simply refusing to type them into your computer, you (or the person who authors copy for you) will be forced to say something more engaging, more unusual.

For one thing, most of those words are opinions, not facts (the ones that aren’t just hyperbole). People can be influenced, but they won’t believe that something’s “delicious” or “delectable” or that it satisfies their hunger just because you say so. But they might believe a fact, that it’s “hand-carved” or “slow-cooked” or, oh, I don’t know, “moist.”

This is my mom. This is how she used to make.

Please: accept that it’s an unfair situation. I believe that you really are using a recipe that’s been in your family, and that it’s the key to your remarkable marinara—but I won’t give it a second thought if you tell me it’s “just like mom used to make,” because I’ve heard it too many times. Sorry. It’s no one’s fault. That phrase is at best devoid of meaning, at worst a boring cliché that says, “Our food is like everybody else’s.”

You’ve got to build a case. Talk about process. Talk about what differentiates your ingredients from those your competition uses. Talk about something.

(To be continued tomorrow…)