There is a new section in the Associated Press Stylebook for journalists: A food section that includes about 400 food entries, about things like what to call a trademarked peanut-butter sandwich made with Marshmallow Fluff: Fluffernutter.
These additions were driven by the explosion of food magazines and blogs, that and the fact that there are six kinds of white-stemmed Chinese cabbages, and not all of them are called bok choy.
“We’ve been beefing up―no pun intended―the food terms in the stylebook online for quite a while,” says AP product manager Colleen Newvine, no pun intended there either.
Associated Press food editor J.M. Hirsch told the American Journalism Review that accuracy is important: “They say in journalism, we can ruin lives. But we can also ruin dinner.”
Standard spellings are part of what drives this. But it’s the capitalization questions that are really tricky. It is a “sloppy Joe,” for example, but a “bloody mary,” for reasons no one can explain.
It’s “cheddar cheese,” named after Cheddar, England, but “Parmesan,” named after Parmigiano, Italy. There is no justice in the world for mary or cheddar, and certainly no consistency.
There is, however, “huitlacoche,” a fungus that grows on corn. If you prefer you can call it corn smut. Or Mexican truffle, Aztec caviar, or maize mushroom.
Wisegeek says when turned into a rich, smoky puree, this can be used in tamales, soups, quesadillas, appetizers, and ice cream. He also says something I doubt the stylebook tells you, that the name comes from two Aztec words that mean “raven excrement.” It’s actually a rare delicacy that results when corn ripens after a heavy rain.
You might need to fix it in a “slow cooker,” since Crock-Pot is trademarked. And if you bake it, just cover it with foil, not aluminum foil or tin foil.
Actually that’s Southern food, with a capital S.
And grits is always plural.
Just so you know.