Here’s a bit of news that sounds great for food writers, food bloggers, restaurateurs and just about everyone in the food industry — the AP Stylebook has expanded its breadth to food. Gone are the days of guessing which exact term to use: parmesan or parmigiano-reggiano? When exactly do you capitalize the letter f in the words French bread, French dressing, French toast and french fries? How about 7-Eleven and 7Up? The people behind the AP Stylebook saw these perplexities and have decided to set things straight.
The modern form of the AP Stylebook, or The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, began in 1953, with the aim of guiding its users in language style and usage – a guidebook for English grammar, punctuation and the standard practices and principles of reporting, including abbreviation, spelling, numerals and capitalization. As the guide developed over the years, it has become the journalists’ bible – the ultimate handbook for writing and editing. In today’s information age, however, as people are increasingly drawn to the luxuries and art of reading, writing and publishing, the AP Stylebook has ceased to be for reporters and journalists alone – it has become handy to everyone.
Seeing how our language rapidly evolves and easily adopts new concepts and terms (also brought about by the internet revolution), the Associated Press makes it a point to update the book yearly, usually in June. The usual sections in the book include business guidelines, sports guidelines and style, guide to punctuation, briefing on media law, photo captions, editing marks and bibliography. This month saw a new updated version—and this time with an entirely new food section.
The brains behind AP saw the rising cultural awareness in food and cooking – one can see food shows, food magazines, food reviews and recipe books just about everywhere. Catching sight of this, AP dedicated a whole new segment to food, wines and spirits, covering 400 terms in sixteen pages, with 140 new entries. And finally, the correct way to write a recipe is laid out with the Official AP Recipe Style.
J.M. Hirsch, AP Food Editor, shared that the idea of coming up with a food section came after he has compiled a stack of cheat sheets over the years, highlighting inconsistencies in the usage of several food names and terms. His cheat sheet’s first entry was bok choy, a type of Chinese cabbage, which has different spellings – pak choi, pak choy, bok choi. True to what Hirsch is saying, there are, indeed a lot of confused usage of several foods and cooking terms. Since there is no standard guide to these terms, everyone was free to come up with his own spelling and usage. Even recipe formats have totally gotten out of control. It’s just about time that someone makes a move to fix it.
Also featured in the new guidebook are food terms that have long been used in the industry with their now formally introduced definitions. Some of these are the following:
locavore – a person who makes it a point to eat locally produced foodstuff
adobo sauce – a saucy combination of chili, vinegar and herbs which comes out red, spicy; widely used in Mexican cooking
amuse-bouche – a bite-sized fare that is served as complimentary offering to diners before their meals
farmstead – commonly used in describing cheese that comes from the milk of just one farm
ghee – clarified butter, generally used in Indian dishes
sashimi – thin slices of raw fish in trays, common in Japanese restaurants
Such new words, word definitions and recipe formats prove useful not just to writers, but to all people in the food industry who aim to continually enhance their craft. Knowing how to use the words correctly is a way of exemplifying a clearer grasp of the business, as well as proving one’s expertise and proficiency in the industry that he goes around in. Our next move? Get hold of a copy of the AP Stylebook and make sure to use the words correctly.