Sounds Strange, Tastes Delicious: 3 Things You Must Try

Photo: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, BorderGrill.comPhoto: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, BorderGrill.comBy Lynn Andriani

It's not just "quinoa" that trips me up every time, no matter how many times a recipe reminds me it's pronounced "keen-wah." Despite my rusty French and food-centric knowledge of Italian, I still puzzle over how to sound out many dishes from those countries, to say nothing of food words in Quechua (that's where "quinoa" comes from) or Nahuatl (the Aztecan dialect responsible for the word "chipotle"). Hiding behind the unusual words, though, are some delicious ingredients and dishes. Here are three, along with their pronunciations and a convincing argument for why I need to master these foreign words once and for all.

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Achiote (ah-chee-OH-tay, Spanish)
This common ingredient in Mexican cooking can actually induce an "achoo," since it's a spicy blend of annatto (a peppery pod from the achiote tree), Mexican oregano, cumin, clove, cinnamon, black pepper, allspice, garlic and salt. Achiote often comes in a paste form, where it adds a red color and a little kick to dishes like Yucatan Pork Tacos (pictured).

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Clafouti (klah-fu-TEE, French)
For the longest time, whenever I read this word, I pictured someone named Fifi wearing a frilly pink nightgown. But now I know it's an easy, pancake-like dessert, made by pouring a batter over fresh fruit and baking it until it puffs. Pop this bubbly, custardy cherry clafouti into your oven midmeal and 30 minutes later, "clafouti" will be your new favorite word.

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Fregola (FRE-go-la, Italian)
Saying the word for these tiny, toothsome balls of pasta--think Israeli couscous--could sound like something you'd say to your worst enemy. But if you roll the "r," add some Parmigiano-Reggiano (roll those r's, too, just to make your dinner companions laugh), plus fresh corn, peas or asparagus, you have a lovely, light summer meal. This recipe from Elaine Louie, who writes the New York Times column "The Temporary Vegetarian," is a cinch.

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