100 Verbs for Recipes, from Julia Child

Nov 122013
 
Shakshooka-Israel

What is the most exciting way to tell people to make this dish? Julia knows.

You’re sick of writing “add” and “place” in recipes, aren’t you? (If not, you should be.)

Here’s help. Use powerful action verbs, the way that Julia Child did. I spent a pleasurable hour reading through Mastering the Art of French Cooking to compile this list for you. Just look at this variety!

  1. Arrange
  2. Baste
  3. Beat
  4. Blend
  5. Brown
  6. Build
  7. Bury
  8. Carve
  9. Check
  10. Chop
  11. Close
  12. Cool
  13. Correct
  14. Cover
  15. Crumple
  16. Cut
  17. Decorate
  18. Discard
  19. Divide
  20. Drape
  21. Drop
  22. Dry
  23. Film
  24. Fold
  25. Follow
  26. Form
  27. Force
  28. Glaze
  29. Insert
  30. Lay
  31. Leave
  32. Lift
  33. Melt
  34. Mince
  35. Mix
  36. Make
  37. Moisten
  38. Mound
  39. Open
  40. Pack
  41. Paint
  42. Pierce
  43. Pour
  44. Prepare
  45. Press
  46. Prick
  47. Pull
  48. Puree
  49. Push
  50. Quarter
  51. Raise
  52. Reduce
  53. Refresh
  54. Reheat
  55. Replace
  56. Return
  57. Ring
  58. Roast
  59. Roll
  60. Salt
  61. Saute
  62. Scatter
  63. Scrape
  64. Scoop
  65. Scrub
  66. Season
  67. Separate
  68. Set
  69. Settle
  70. Shave
  71. Skim
  72. Simmer
  73. Slice
  74. Slide
  75. Slip
  76. Slit
  77. Smear
  78. Soak
  79. Spoon
  80. Spread
  81. Sprinkle
  82. Stir
  83. Strain
  84. Strew
  85. Stuff
  86. Surround
  87. Taste
  88. Thin
  89. Tie
  90. Tip
  91. Tilt
  92. Top
  93. Toss
  94. Trim
  95. Turn
  96. Twist
  97. Warm
  98. Wilt
  99. Wind
  100. Wrap

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  89 Responses to “100 Verbs for Recipes, from Julia Child”

  1. Thank you for compiling such a thorough, and thoroughly useful, list Dianne!

  2. Brilliant! We could all use a few several hours with Julia. I’m printing this and it’s going on the office bulletin board. Thank you Dianne!

  3. Thank you, Dianne! This is so helpful and wonderful!

  4. Thank you Diane for compiling such a thorough list. I’ll be referring to it often, for sure. It’s true that these words certainly do help to get a clearer picture and I’m especially intrigued by the word, “BrownBuild”. I’ll have to look that one up.

  5. Love this list. It will be so helpful. Thank you, Dianne!

  6. That’s a great list, thank you. I made a list of active verbs when my job required report writing!

    Have bookmarked for future use.

  7. Love this, thank you! Though I have to say, no one has cooking verbs quite like Simon and Minty Marchmont. :) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfN4_52loC4

    • “As firm and moist as Tom Cruise after a hot bath.” Love it! Thanks for sharing it, Leah. I did not know about this show.

  8. THANK YOU for taking the time to do this.

  9. What an a excellent reference, Dianne. I’ve bookmark it and will refer to it regularly. David Leite, speaking at a conference I attended, challenged everyone to come up with 100 adjectives to describe food other than delicious. I started my list but never completed it. This post has inspired me to get cracking and get it finished.

    “BrownBuild”. I’m looking that up!

    • I’d like to see that list! David is a good friend.

      Re BrownBuild, that’s what happens when you put a “more” break in your post, a la WordPress. I have fixed it.

  10. I’m looking for another word to describe this fantastic list, Dianne. Thank you.

  11. As a big fan of lists, Julia and cooking, I am grateful to you for having compiled this!

  12. How I love thee…let me count the ways! 100 ways that I love and appreciate this list!

  13. What a great idea – thanks, Dianne!

  14. Love this list! Dinne, thank you so much!
    I’m reading some books on food and travel these days, and was thinking of making such a list, mostly for my own use. But now your post inspires me, so when I’m ready I will forward my list to you and if you deem appropriate you can share it with the readers.

    All the best!!
    PS. What a bad luck, my day-time work got so hectic and demanding that it leaves right now almost no time for my hobby:-(
    I look forward to the Christmass vacation, just to reconnect…

    • Well, that does sound like an overwhelming task. This one was easy, just an hour to write them all down, and then let the computer alphabetize them. Maybe you need a more manageable list.

  15. A great list of useful verbs for reference! Thank you Dianne.

  16. WOW…. I think this is the problem most food/recipe writers have, trying to come up with different ways to say almost the same thing. Thank you so much for the list, and how can you not love Julia?

  17. Hi, Dianne. Great blog. I read “My Life in France” recently and it was this very thing–her choice of words–that enchnanted me. Of course, your list here is more on the practical side, but she had the most vivid, charming, old-timey (in some cases) way of describing things. One of my favorites was calling her career/writing “cookbookery.” :-)

    • Yes, her voice was so vivid and full of her personality. It holds up beautifully even if it is a little old fashioned.

  18. This is great!!! This will come in very handy. I have copied this list to use as an aide when working on a recipe.

  19. Brilliant, Diane. Thank you so much for again enriching our craft. Too often we’re blocked and think there just can’t be another way to articulate or communicate the food prep or cooking action — and the like magic – You — and Julia whip up our imaginations and give us “food for thought.” Cheers!

    • Oh now, maybe Julia is brilliant, not me. She must have worked so very had to come up with all this original and lively language. Thanks, Leeann.

  20. This is a great resource, Diane. I might have to do the same with adjectives. While writing 60 headnotes about almonds, Julia would have been helpful inspiration.

    • Lynda, I take it you’re writing a cookbook using almonds? Congrats! Yes, you’ve got to come with something fresh every time, and that’s tough. There is a long list of adjectives in Will Write for Food. Take a look.

  21. I SO needed this – many thanks and enjoy a lovely Thanksgiving.

    • You are most welcome, Liz. Thanks for your kind wishes for Thanksgiving, but I will be in Canada teaching, and they have already celebrated it in October, so it’s just another day. I hope yours and Larry’s is wonderful.

  22. Thank you so much Dianne for such a useful list. I will refer to it often!

  23. Hi Dianne, this is an amazing list of verbs. Thanks for putting it together and generously sharing it with us. As always, you rock! All the best to you.

  24. This is a great list, Dianne. Thank you!

    I love the use of more unconventional verbs for recipes. Smear is a wonderful word. How about plaster? Slather?

    Love the new website design. Very nice!

    Melissa

    • You’re welcome, Melissa. I like those additional adjectives of yours very much. “Plaster” implies a sense of humor — which I find comes in handy when cooking!

  25. Wonderful list! Beats surfing the thesaurus for relevant but diverse array of verbs – which is what I end up doing while writing. :( Thank you!

    • Oh yes, I surf thesauruses also. Most of the time they are helpful, but sometimes the words are just a little off. Glad this list will come in handy.

  26. Thank you Dianne! This gave me an idea for my culinary mystery!

  27. Marvelous list! I don’t even write recipes but I noticed that many of these verbs conjure up vivid and even violent images (e.g., pierce, crumple, push, twist, quarter, bury). What a great way to grab the reader’s attention. Thanks, Dianne

    • Vivid and even violent images! I never thought of that. But it does sound like a bit of a wrestling match when you read those words one after another.

  28. What a fantastic list! Thank you for compiling this, Dianne (and for ALL the work you do for us recipe writers)!

  29. Love this post! Thanks a mil, will start using now!

  30. Hey Dianne,

    Article is so useful for my bloggers mums i am sharing it now on my Facebook Fan page amazing help :)

  31. This is wonderful, Dianne, and a lot of fun, to boot. I have been meaning to add a section to my blog (as a very slowly reorganize it) on references for bloggers and this will find its place. Food and cooking vocabulary is so rich, it is funny that we don’t all automatically use a larger vocabulary. I wonder if part of the reason that Julia’s was was because she learned to cook in French?

    • Interesting idea, Jamie. It does tax your brain in a different way, and maybe it added to her creativity. It is fun to wonder how she came up with so many good verbs. Did they just come to her, did she struggle, did she have a list like this? We’ll never know.

  32. This is the reason you are my first bookmark. I love these types of posts. They’re really helpful and improve food blogs on the whole!
    Thanks so much Dianne :)

  33. What a useful list Dianne – will save this for later use. Do you buy any chance have a similar list of adjectives? I am always struggling for better ways to say ‘delicious’.

  34. Dianne, thank you so much for taking the time to compile this list and for sharing it with other writers. What a generous and thoughtful thing to do. Bless you!

  35. Awesome post and thank you for the suggestions! I’ve just started to read you book, Will Write for Food, and I’m loving it so far. I recently started a blog in February and I’m always looking to improve it (and me). :)

  36. Hi Dianne,
    I have recently purchased your book “Will write for food”, awesome book and I am only on chapter 4! I have just started reading your blog and finding it so helpful. I am 50 years old (soon to be 51) and have always wanted to write a cookbook, so I thought I would start with blogging about food while planning menues and researching different ingredients that I will be using in my meals.
    I am 100% focused on doing this and finally be happy in doing what I want in life.
    Looking forward to following your blog.
    Linda from St. Sauveur, Qc Canada

  37. This is an extraordinary list for a recipe writer. Thank you so so much for sharing.

  38. This is a wonderful list of 100 verbs. I saw it a few weeks ago, bookmarked it and kept coming back for reference. Just wanted to thank you for generously sharing this and the other very helpful posts on food writing. Happy Holidays, Dianne!

  39. All the work you did to compile this list makes my life– and the writing lives of my students– so much easier! Thank you for this and all your wonderful posts. Never stop!
    Happy New Year
    -Marge

    • Thank so much Marge. I have been showing your ASF award-winning essay to students so they can see what a great one looks like. Happy New Year to you and David.

  40. I think I need to post this next to my desk! Can we do adjectives next? :)

  41. […] 100 verbs to liven up your recipe […]

  42. Will definitely be using some of these, thanks!

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