Gourmet: Can This Word Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth?

Still from an old TV show with Julia Child in a kitchen, gleefully holding a mallet in the air above a board of meat surrounded by vegetables and a big pot.
Gourmet vs. gourmand: Julia Child probably knew the difference.

Although you may have read hundreds or even thousands of real estate listings about homes that feature a “gourmet kitchen,” does such a thing exist?

Gourmet Mission Creep

Mission creep is when a project or mission is expanded beyond its original goals, and it is usually considered undesirable. You might want to file gourmet under this undesirable expansion concept.

Most dictionaries agree that gourmet is:

  • A noun that describes a discriminating connoisseur of fine food and drink.
  • Additionally, some dictionaries now list the word as an adjective describing the characteristics of a gourmet—involving quality ingredients prepared with great skill.

Our language does not stop evolving, and many nouns find themselves added to our writing lexicon with added duties. For example, now that the majority of us have a smartphone, text has become both a noun and a verb.

So, although it may not originally have been possible to live in a house with a gourmet kitchen, usage of this term by real estate professionals everywhere means that your reader will understand what you mean should you decide to use it.

If you feel the need to stay true to the original meaning of gourmet used as a noun, choose an alternative adjective, such as epicurean. This descriptive word is more precise because it implies excessive refinement.

A gourmet kitchen might simply be a space that has room on the counter for a food processor. An epicurean kitchen should leave no doubt that you are referring to a space featuring professional-grade cooking appliances, as well as a pantry the size of a small apartment in the city.

Gourmet vs. Gourmand

Be careful not to confuse a gourmet with a gourmand. The latter is a noun referring to someone who is overly fond of eating and drinking—often to excess. (Think of Mr. Creosote, the exploding gourmand played by Terry Jones in Monty Python’s 1983 film, The Meaning of Life.)

While the meaning of a gourmand is much closer to gourmet in present times, this noun also connotes a glutton. And while even glutton is not such a negative term anymore, it does refer to someone who consumes voraciously—you would not expect him or her to politely reserve the last nacho on the plate for you.

Some gourmands are gourmets. To put it politely, they occupy more physical space than their singularly gourmet cousins.

It is unlikely, however, that a gourmet would also be a glutton—unless he privately indulges in this behavior and also is bulimic.

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Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I'm Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than two decades of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes after Hurricane Katrina. Today, I have put together a hand-picked team of copy editors, and we especially love working with ad agencies, marketing departments, and education companies to make their text as polished as possible. Learn more here.

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