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What’s the Word?

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Photo by Jonathan Bounce
Photo by Jonathan Boncek

Last fall, high in the hills of eastern Tennessee, a gentleman in overalls handed me a bottle of moonshine with the warning, “This is so good, your tongue is gonna beat your brains out tryin’ to get more of it.” That tickled me. The shine itself was, well, an acquired taste, but it got me thinking about different expressions we use for “delicious.”

I’m so over “delish” and “yummo” [Yawn]. And I’ve tired of my in-laws’ overuse of “simply marvelous.” Surely there are more creative ways to describe something that is truly drool inducing—not merely tasty, but tantalizing, delectable, splendid, craveable, unctuous, ethereal, sublime, decadent, luscious, ambrosial, exquisite, nectarious, transcendent, mouth watering, lip smacking, eyeball rolling, finger licking good. Here are my Top 10 picks:

  1. “Moreish.” Translates literally: causing the desire for more (as in, this apple pie is very moreish).
  2. “It will make you see God.” Words used by my friend Michael Dunaway when recommending that I brunch at Tartine in New Orleans.
  3. “It feels so luxurious in my mouth.” Coined by one of the original Iron Chef competitors, a Japanese chef describing a carrot dish.
  4. “Scrummy.” Think of it as an abbreviated modern equivalent of Willy Wonka’s classic “scrumdiddlyumptious.”
  5. “Chatty but not quarrelsome.” An expression used (in jest) by my friend Calhoun Witham when assessing a good wine. His clever jab at “winespeak.”
  6. “Sacrilicious.” Uttered by Homer Simpson when eating a waffle that he considered holy. Something that tastes so good it should be a sin to eat it.
  7. “Foodgasm.” (See also, “sex on a fork” or “orgasm on a plate”) Conjuring the classic scene in When Harry Met Sally when the lady at the neighboring booth remarks, “I’ll have what she’s having!”
  8. “Liquid crack.” I’ve heard chefs use this phrase to describe something mind-bendingly good, before telling me not to quote them.
  9. [Belch]. Enthusiastic burping may not be acceptable in America, in public anyway, but is considered complimentary to the chef in many Asian cultures. I remember suppressing laughter at a dinner in India when my host proudly let the belches rip.
  10. [Total silence]. Call it a food coma: a culinary experience so good that one is momentarily incapable of speech. Perhaps this is the best expression of all.