A boomer asks, what has happened to my food???

After a year of high tension thanks to the twin plagues of presidential politics and the pandemic, BoomerCafé wants to do its part to tone things down, which is why for a few weeks, in addition to fresh stories, we’re going to run some of our “best of” pieces from the past, stories that will remind you that Yes, Virginia, there was some tranquility before the tension. This story was originally published in October, 2016 and just as relevant today.

Times change. We get that. But when times change, sometimes words change too and we don’t get that! Neither does Leslie Handler, who lives near New York and writes for ZestNow and The Huffington Post. And today she writes for us about Food by Any Other Name!

I heard a commercial this morning advertising “live caught salmon.” Really? Is there a dead caught salmon? Would it be safe to eat it if the fish was already dead when caught? I’ve become a bit perplexed nowadays over the terms used to describe my food.

Wild salmon

Wild salmon as opposed to farm raised salmon.

Besides live caught salmon, I also can buy “fresh frozen” vegetables. So, are they fresh or are they frozen? Maybe they’re alive like the salmon, but they couldn’t decide.

Then, these days, they’ve been marking everything else “gluten free” — even things that would never have gluten in them anyway. It’s not like “gluten free” is a healthy alternative. It really matters mainly to people who have Celiac disease and can’t digest gluten. These food companies are trying to make me believe that I’m better off if I buy something gluten free.

Food that contains gluten.

Seems like much of the popular food contains gluten.

For years of course they’ve offered “new and improved.” Does that mean the old one was bad?

Then they try to use fancy words to describe my food. Words like “infused” and “encrusted.” I think they can charge more if they use these words as opposed to old-fashioned phrases like “added flavorings” and “breaded.”

New England lobster roll with homemade potato chips cooked in fine oils.

New England lobster roll with homemade potato chips cooked in fine oils at Bickford’s in Woburn, MA. (Photo by David Henderson)

If I want a sandwich, they no longer tell me that it comes with fries. Now they tell me that I get a sandwich “nestled” with potatoes removed from a bath of fine oils. I can also order the sandwich “accompanied” by potato chips. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to eat my potato chips unescorted. Of course they no longer ask if I want white, wheat, or rye. Now they want to know which type of “artisan” bread I want. After chef school, do the new chefs have internships with various artists? Do they sign and number the bread? Should I eat it or hang it on my wall?

Writer Leslie Handler.

Writer Leslie Handler.

I always thought that a “medley” was a musical composition, but apparently that’s a very old-fashioned way to think about a medley. Today, the word is more commonly used to mean a mixture of items, such as “a medley of vegetables.”

Good news though, dessert no longer has calories because they no longer serve it. Now, you “finish” with a flourless cake. And now I’m “finished” complaining about why I can’t order a fresh fish sandwich on wheat with chips and fruit for dessert. If that’s what I want, I need to know enough to order fresh frozen live caught salmon nestled on artisan bread accompanied by chips and finished with a medley of berries.

So let me say to you in the best old-fashioned English I know: Bon Appetit!


Appetizer at L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls, VA. (Photo by David Henderson)


  1. Very funny, Leslie. Perhaps now that so many more people stayed home during lockdown and cooked their own food they won’t be as susceptible to menu hyperbole and purple prose.

  2. Yes, I’ve always had a bone to pick with “new and improved”. It’s one or the other, not both at the same time! If they improved it, it’s not new anymore.

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