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Cliché alert: even Lonely Planet authors ‘wash down’ their food

[4 Aug 2015] Restaurant critics are notoriously addicted to the cliché ‘wash down’ when referring to their consumption of wine with a meal. No doubt they ‘wash down’ their cars or drains with buckets of water, but do they really ‘wash down’ their food? It conjures up the revolting notion of millions of food particles being sluiced through the oesophagus in a tidal wave of gloop.

The latest offender is a Lonely Planet guide to the delights of Amalfi coast cuisine. Visit the isle of Capri, it suggests, to sample ‘light insalata caprese (mozzarella, tomato and basil salad) and calorific torta caprese (almond and chocolate cake)’.

But then it recommends: ‘Wash it down with limoncello (lemon liqueur).’

Wash it down! Hideous idea! And how much limoncello would be needed for a proper washdown? Enough to make the author sick, that’s for sure.

For a longer diatribe on clichés, see Martin Cutts’s book The Oxford Guide to Plain English (3rd edition) pages 49–52.


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