The power of words cannot be underestimated when it’s time to describe a recipe. Whether the food is yours or someone else’s, on your blog or in a restaurant, it is your duty as a food blogger to communicate your experience of the food as best you can. Alongside a host of stunning photographs, the only information your readers have to go on when choosing which new recipes to try, is your description of your food. They want to know – before they cook the dish – what it will taste/smell like, and how it will make them feel.
I’m as guilty as the next food blogger for describing my food as “delicious”. It’s a word that we throw around as if our readers will suddenly say “oh, ok, well if it’s delicious then, of course, I’ll cook it”. Unfortunately, the word “delicious” doesn’t really tell you anything about the dish, other than the fact that you like the taste of it and think others will too. But would you ever post anything on your site that you didn’t think was delicious? Thought not. So you’ve gained nothing by saying it and you’ve missed out on an incredible opportunity to share your knowledge.
How to describe a recipe
Imagine, if you will, that you have a forkful of your latest recipe in your mouth right now. Think about what the food is doing in your mouth; is it easy to chew or difficult? Is it runny and oozy or crunchy and crisp? Is it warming you through and filling you up with spice, or tingling your tongue with cooling sharpness? Now you have to convey that feeling to someone who is not with you.
A little test I like to set other bloggers is as follows:
- Picture a room with tables laid out with a huge buffet spread. You go over to the table and select one dish and you take a mouthful. Think about what it feels, tastes and smells like.
- Now you leave the room and meet your friend. You have to explain the dish to them in two sentences without naming the ingredients or the dish. Can you explain it?
- Finally, your friend has to go over to the same buffet table and pick the same dish you did, just from your description.
How did you do?
The power of your words
In today’s article, I’m going to share with you 100 food adjectives I have compiled that tell your audience a whole lot more about your food than “delicious”. If you print off this list, then the next time you come to write your recipe description, you can refer to it for inspiration. It’s amazing how a simple change in language can change the whole feel of a sentence.
For example, would you prefer to eat:
“this delicious chocolate tart, which is served with whipped Chantilly cream”
“this buttery chocolate tart, which is served with a silky-smooth Chantilly cream”?
Before I give you the list, I’m also going to give you some banned words!
#1 Don’t use unpleasant adjectives where you can help it. Nobody wants to eat something that’s “slimy”, “soggy”, “dry” or “gritty”. If you’re writing a review of a restaurant, dish or ingredient, then think about how the power of these words will affect the product or establishment. And if you find you’re using these words for your own recipes, then perhaps it’s the recipe itself that needs a rethink.
#2 Don’t just repeat the ingredients! If your red-wine sauce is rich and chocolatey, then great! But don’t tell me your chocolate mousse is chocolatey! The same goes for “lemony” lemon tarts, “salty” fish dishes and “creamy” ice cream.
#3 Don’t use descriptions that don’t really tell you anything; “yummy”, “delicious”, “tasty” & “brilliant” are no longer allowed!
Get the list
Here’s where you can download my list of 100 Ways to Describe a Recipe. And if you’d like to, I’d be grateful if you’d subscribe to my mailing list, too, and get more food-blogging tips straight to your inbox.
Over to you!
Here’s your challenge: describe your latest recipe in a sentence – without naming the dish! Post it in the comments and we’ll all try and guess what it is.