Both the pronunciations and the dishes themselves are worth exploring.
There’s no way to describe the anxiety and subsequent embarrassment of pronouncing something wrong. Being hungry before you do it is just putting salt in the wound.
In an attempt to save the world from sweaty palms and disappointed glares from servers, we’ve rounded up some of the food world’s hardest-to-pronounce words. Don’t forget, practice makes perfect (and also, a good excuse to order some injera or huitlacoche).
Boudin (pronounced with the same “oo” sound as “boudoir”) is one of many incredible charcuterie items that are mainstays in New Orleans’ cuisine. It’s also made with pig’s blood, so it’s probably not for the faint of heart.
Bouillabaisse, a classic seafood stew from Provence, is too good not to order just because you’re scared of all those very French-looking syllables. However, take another glance, and it’s just like what your teenage brother used to say when he pranked you successfully (BOOYAH!). Take a deep breath, and say it after us: booyah base.
Don’t embarrass your Italian friends by saying bruschetta with a “shhhh” in the middle — we’ll guarantee that will get you less of this amazing tomato-heavy toast at cocktail hour, which would be sad for you.
Bulgogi, the flavor-packed, grilled-beef dish of your dreams is so good that it has made its way into the hippest tacos in America. Now it can make its way onto your plate the next time you’re out for Korean barbecue since you can order it like a pro.
Trust us, you’re going to want to dip some pita in this. Foul mudammas is a Mediterranean dip made with fava beans, ginger, garlic, and hot chile oil, and it’s addictive, so don’t miss out.
I grew up in a seriously Greek city and write about food for a living, yet I’ve still said gyro wrong for much of my life. Be a hero the next time you’re out for Greek food: Teach your friends how to pronounce this delicious tzatziki-laden wrap sandwich right.
Known alternatively as “corn smut” or “corn truffle,” this umami-packed fungus grows on corn and gets treated like a delicacy in Mexico. Both its spelling and its origins are scarier than they sound. Don’t miss a chance to try huitlacoche the next time you find yourself at an authentic Mexican spot.
Injera is a food so brilliant you’ll wish you’d thought of it yourself: This super-nutritious bread subs in for utensils in Ethiopian cuisine. Eating with your hands never tasted (or sounded) so good.
These Polish doughnuts get served up piping hot on Fat Tuesday, but you should be able to order a paczki anytime you want without struggling through the order.
Pho. Just three letters for an amazingly soul-soothing Vietnamese soup packed with noodles, herbs, and protein. Looks easy, right? Wrong. DO NOT say this like “dough” — or we’ll have to unfriend you.
Vichyssoise is the soup of the snob, but its origins are humble: potatoes, leeks, and a ton of cream. We wouldn’t want you to miss a chance to act as snooty as possible in a French restaurant. Trust us, it’s part of the fun.