Wholesaler Bidfood has released a study showing that two-thirds of diners find the meaning of words like "quenelle", "jus" and "ballotine" baffling.
Just 37% of those surveyed knew a quenelle was an egg-shaped spoonful, with a quarter admitting to believing it was a type of hen. One in seven thought a ballotine was either a dance or a machine used to behead people in medieval times, rather than a boned, stuffed poultry thigh.
The research was created to establish the impact of menus when it comes to consumer dining habits. Bidfood hopes the research will help foodservice operators better meet the needs of their consumers and also help them to standout and boost footfall in an increasingly competitive market.
As well as potential words to avoid on the menu, the survey also highlighted those which are most likely to appeal to diners, with "spicy", "melting", "marinated" and "smoked" topping the list.
With regards to describing healthier dishes, 30% of diners found that ‘boring' or unimaginative healthy foods stops them from eating better, and 38% would like to see a change in healthy meal description. This includes highlighting how meals are prepared, with popular terms including "grilled", "roasted" and "baked", as well as championing key flavours within ingredients such as "aromatic" and "herby".
Terms like locally sourced (37%), seasonal (33%), free range (30%) and sustainably sourced (26%) are also becoming increasingly sought-after.
Words such as "indulgent", "sweet", "rich", "oozing" and "sticky" were voted as the top five words most likely to indicate a "fattening" menu item.
Lucy Pedrick, senior insights manager at Bidfood, commented: "It's fascinating to see the types of words which are impacting consumers' dining habits. Gone are the days where meals were chosen based on how good they'll look on Instagram, or how fancy they sound with French phrases thrown in. Instead, Brits are looking for clear and enticing descriptions that tell them where their dish was sourced, how it was prepared and the flavours they can expect to enjoy."