I’ve been a student of restaurant jargon since I waited tables one summer in New York. I remember panicking the first time I heard “fire table six!” – it was, as it happens, only an instruction for the chef to start cooking.
I learnt that when the kitchen was “in the weeds”, they were buried under a pile of food orders. And when they spotted “a little guy in the pantry” I should call the cockroach exterminator.
But now jargon is spreading onto the street. American food writer, historian and critic John T. Edge has included it in The Truck Food Cookbook, his brilliantly written new book.
1. Ventrification – the gentrification of the street food vending game.
“If, as I would argue, the modern version of this [street food] phenomenon begins with taco trucks” says Edge, “then as chefs and chefly folks step in, there’s an inherent gentrification in both the way the food is delivered, the price of the food, the sort of food. You know – you see foie gras slowly creeping in on tiptoes”.
2. Nonstaurant – a non-traditional restaurant in a non-traditional setting.
3. B&M –a brick and mortar restaurant, as opposed to one that moves.
Get with the programme people. This is our language — we just need to learn to speak it.