Two of our city’s top restaurants currently have misspellings on their menus that made me blush. One is an extra consonant in the name of an aged Italian cheese (not Parmesan—rhymes with “Sauna Milano”). The other adds an extra vowel to the French pastry preparation cremeux.
Other times it’s reversed accents. On wine lists, the pickings are lush.
The fall play at one of our Dallas high schools this year is Tartuffe by Molière. Before the opening, the art department pitched in, posters were made. But when the theater director saw “Moliére” rather than “Molière,” she said, with gentle firmness (though gratitude) that they would have to be reprinted. Moliére is not the same man as Molière. Try getting a French person to pronounce the first version and watch the contortion of their face.
I wish dessert with French names, or wine lists, or cheese boards, or vegetable names for that matter got the same attention on our menus.
This isn’t about glaring failures in a dish. But menu descriptions are one of many factors that contribute to a restaurant experience, and a beautiful, leather-bound menu boasting all kinds of delicious and sophisticated things looks all of a sudden smaller, a little sheepish when one of these typos, like a free radical, pops up—a little agent of chaos that subtly insinuates itself. That’s the part that makes me wince.
Because praise be for pastry chefs making our world better with chibousts (and extra praise to the servers who learn to pronounce it). But note: chefs, you’re asking a diner to buy into your creation, to enter into your world and take a risk. It is a privilege they will pay for. And the butchering of a word may not make them doubt your skill with the sauté pan or the knife, but it’s not like it gathers a vote of confidence, either.
It’s something you notice. The way you would notice is someone asked you if you liked the Dallas Crowboys. Exactly. That is exactly the wince.
Let’s make Dallas a better dacquoise-eating place. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with “cake.”