Someone who is both a linguist and a computer scientist at Stanford University, no less, is unlikely to be a dull dinner companion.
In the case of Dan Jurafsky this should prove to be especially true. His book ‘The Language of Food’ required him to work his way through 6,500 restaurant menus and look at the descriptions of 650,000 dishes.
What he discovered is that mid-range restaurants use the word ‘fresh’ more than any other while cheap places tend to insist that their food is real. Expensive eateries avoid both.
Why? Because when you say that your crabs are real or your plums are fresh you immediately raise a doubt in the mind of the person reading the menu. By blatantly stating what should be obvious and true your reader will naturally infer that it is not.
People who write content for a living know this.
It is not so much that we are expert in the art of writing menus, more that we are expert in the art of clearly expressing what our customers want said. Good content writers can write on all subjects – and we know that trying to confuse customers with an extravagant use of adjectives is always a mistake.
On the other side of the menu, Jurafsky discovered that online reviewers tend to describe foods that are high in sugar and fat in the same terms that are commonly used to describe addictive drugs.
It seems that people who demand a ‘fix’ from fried chicken and cupcakes excuse their actions because they are addicts – aka ill – and thus believe that they are not responsible for anything they ingest as a result of their addictions.