A few weeks ago, I went out for lunch with a friend to our local Vietnamese restaurant and asked for my usual – a hearty bowl of rare beef phở. After I ordered, my mate turned to me and scoffed, “It’s not ‘foe’, it’s ‘fuh’.”
Yep, just like that.
Much to my annoyance,
Hermione my friend was right. But I’m not the first person to make that mistake, and I definitely won’t be the last.
And, as it turns out, it’s not the only menu item that’s been tripping people up. Chances are we’ve all been mispronouncing dozens of international favourites. Here are some of the biggest offenders…
In recent years, this delish broth and noodle dish has exploded in popularity, as has the rate of clumsy Aussies (myself included) mispronouncing it. For the record, my friend was right – it’s not “foe” (or even “poe”), but rather “fuh”. But nowadays, it’s so common, your waiter will almost certainly understand what you mean. They’ll just be silently judging you.
First of all, if you haven’t heard of/tasted xiaolongbao, stop reading this and immediately go get some. We’ll wait. Actually, before you do, you might want to know how to pronounce it – show (as in “shower”), long (as in… well, “long”), bow (as in “pow”). Now go and enjoy some of these morsels of meaty, soupy, dumpling goodness.
This Italian brunch fave doesn’t look difficult to say right, but you’d be surprised. If you wandered into a cafe in Rome and asked for a serve of “broo-shet-ah”, you’d probably get that classic “ugh, tourists” look from your waiter. Why? Because in Italian, “ch” is always pronounced “k”, making it “broo-sket-ah”.
One of my personal favourites, gyros are Greek pita wraps filled with meat, salad, chips, tzatziki and other goodies. But resist the urge to pronounce it “gyro” as in “gyroscope” – the correct pronunciation is “yee-ros”.
It’s the crazy-popular hot sauce that seems to go well with everything, but despite its popularity, we’re still getting it wrong almost everytime. Looking at it, saying “sree-rah-cha” makes the most sense phonetically, but according to the manufacturers themselves, the first “r” is silent, making it “see-rah-cha”.
If you haven’t tried açai, you’ve definitely seen it on every Insta model’s profile (#cleaneating). Ever since these South American berries were first labelled a “superfood” a few years ago, they’ve found their way into every cafe in Australia, but we still have no idea what we’re doing when it comes to pronouncing it correctly – it’s actually “ah-sigh-ee”.