A Wicked Way With Words

  Enlarge Photo    
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You can't accuse Barry Foy of taking food too seriously. His satirical new book, "The Devil's Food Dictionary: A Pioneering Culinary Reference Work Consisting Entirely of Lies" (Frogchart Press, September 2008), creatively defines popular food terms. Along the way, he hilariously skewers food writers, cuisines and sacred culinary traditions. The book's motto: "The most unreliable food book ever!"

Foy, a 53-year-old Seattle writer and musician who describes himself as "food obsessed," originally intended to write a parody cookbook. But it was a draft of the glossary that received the most raves from friends. Four years later, Foy had nearly 1,100 tongue-in-cheek definitions of everything from abalone to zucchini.

Dip in and you'll find laugh-out-loud entries for trendy terms such as "foodie" and cult foods such as the stinky durian fruit, which Foy describes as "a favorite among food writers who never tire of pointing out that it is forbidden on subways in Singapore." Read all the way through and you'll find clever, cross-referenced themes: Foy defines chardonnay as "a type of wine flavored with chard," lambrusco as "a type of wine made from lamb" and "Gewursttraminer" [sic] as "a type of wine made from sausages." Of course.

An edited selection of some of our favorite entries:

"Comfort food: 1) Any type of food that you would prefer your friends did not see you enjoy; 2) the fortifying, familiar, and satisfying fare that killed your grandparents."

"Foodie: A category of generally affluent hypergourmet that developed as a reaction to progress. This is primarily a North American designation; a foodie from Italy, by comparison, is known simply as an Italian."

"Kitchen: Known for most of its history as the room devoted to food preparation, the kitchen has undergone several improvements and is now chiefly a display platform for color-coordinated appliances."

"Pear: Perhaps the only fruit famous for being shaped like itself."

-- Jane Black


© 2008 The Washington Post Company