That’s what a journalist wrote in the Guardian’s cookery supplement a few days ago (incidentally, getting the number concord wrong in elevate).
Speak for yourself, I thought. Far from their changing the way we cook, “many of us” have surely never even heard of za’atar, ras-al-hanout and harissa. Nor do we know how to pronounce them.
For the author of a pronunciation dictionary aiming inter alia to document the state of the language, keeping up with trendy exotic foodstuffs is nearly as impossible as keeping up with the names of the footballers from all over the world who now play in the English leagues.
When I was a boy we didn’t even have avocados, green peppers, courgettes, or kiwi fruit, still less kumquats or brie. Now you can find them in every high street and shopping centre. We shall never know how Daniel Jones would have pronounced courgette in English, let alone its American version zucchini: in his day EPD was silent on the matter.
I’m quite pleased to have got quinoa in LPD, though I’m not aware of ever having eaten it and I wonder how many people in Britain really pronounce it ˈkiːnwɑː. I also managed to add acai in the third edition, with the pronunciation əˈsaɪ (the only one I’ve ever heard); though I think it would be nicer if we preserved its diacritics and spelt it açaí, and again I wonder just how many people pronounce it əˈsaɪiː, ˌæsaɪˈiː in BrE, əˈsaɪi in AmE, as the OED claims. (I’ve de-Uptonized its transcription.)
I also found room for goji, with its unetymological j (“does not conform to any of the major transliteration systems [of Chinese]”, says the OED sternly).