Season 9 Episode 5

What Actually Makes An Ingredient ‘Pretentious’?

One of our most popular formats on YouTube is our ‘pretentious ingredients’ series where we review food items that some may deem just completely unecessary and ridiculous. It’s something we stumbled across when walking through a high end food hall in London one day. But in today’s episode we take it slightly further and try to define what exactly makes an ingredient ‘pretentious’. We have a whole host of your comments to help!

Best soundbite“To be honest that’s why Barry’s here today, he’s a professional pretentious-ist.” Ben Ebbrell

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Something to make you think...

Does it matter if an ingredient is pretentious or not? Can we just accept that not all foods are for all people? Or actually is it just another way for us point fingers and divide opinions?

Instead should we celebrate artisanal… new and small, local businesses? And is it fair that we (with our tongues firmly in our cheeks) have a dig and stick up our noses at some of the products that are being sold… presumably they are working. There is a market for them?

Ebbers' Stats!

Pretentious’ Dictionary Definition: attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed.

‘Pretentious’ History: A word that’s been in use since the mid 1800’s in the English language when it stemmed from the French term “prétention”. It has lost popularity recently, in modern times.

‘Pretentious’ Synonyms: toffee-nosed, showy, flashy, pompuss, ostentatious, flamboyant, fancy-pants, posey, inflated, elaborate

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  1. ximikeeyyx

    Loved this episode – pretentious ingredients are always interesting

  2. Casolo

    I think an ingredient is pretentious when it is overpriced for no reason. The gin is an example, if the grass enhanced the flavour and you were selling grass infused gin, I don’t think it is pretentious. Having it infused with grass from the pitch is. Charging £40 for a better panettone is not pretentious; charging £200 for the same item gold covered is pretentious. I think the gin pickles are not pretentious because the taste is different with the gin added; if they tasted the same and were just more expensive then they would be. Charging more for turmeric in a health store than a spice shop is pretentious. Just being expensive in my opinion doesn’t make something pretentious; I don’t mind paying for quality or better items. It is when the price is inflated only for marketing. The same applies to clothes; having quality clothes that are expensive is not pretentious; it is only when the price is inflated because of the label.

  3. Jobbee

    I don’t think most products are pretentious. I think its more the person. Bao isn’t pretentious but Mike definitely. So if your buying a potentially pretentious ingredient it wouldn’t be pretentious if you just want to try something new or need it for a meal but if you’re buying it because of marketing/ super health benifits or to show off the your pretentious but not necessarily the ingredient.

  4. ch88

    For me, as long as an ingredient or product has an actual application in the kitchen that somehow enhances my cooking, I probably wouldn’t call it pretentious. It does what it says it does and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not. However, whenever I start to suspect that I’m paying for marketing more than for the actual product, that’s where things get pretentious for me. Especially as the fancy branding often seems to make products unaffordable… The chai latte powder you reviewed a while ago comes to mind!

  5. nosoytonta

    Excluding anything gold covered or gold flaked, I believe an ingredient is not pretentious per se. It is how that ingredient been used that makes it pretentious: salt from the Himalayas? Not pretentious. Salt of the Himalayas on a fancy bottle and words on the package so flowery that will kick off your pollen allergies? Pretentious. A whiskey glass? Not pretentious. A ceramic glass at an outrageous amount of money that actually enhance the experience of drinking whiskey? Pretentious! Effective , but pretentious nonetheless.

    Something I can’t stand is pompous people buying pretentious ingredients just to show off. That causes me great pain (for rolling my eyes too much). I think, however, it is super fun to but pretentious ingredients knowingly. You are aware what they are, but you like them so much you couldn’t help it. It also create a fine talking point!

    • Sorted

      We agree totally agree with you. We once tested a honey that was over £100. Normal honey not pretentious, but that honey, wow, pretentious! It did taste incredible though.

  6. cgfetherston

    I think that something is pretentious when it relieves me of my money while simultaneously making me feel inadequate for not appreciating it’s special qualities.

  7. cgfetherston

    I believe that something is pretentious when someone relieves you of your money while simultaneously making you feel inadequate. A high quality ingredient is more costly but is not necessarily pretentious.

  8. Kmch91

    While I may often roll my eyes at pretentious ingredients that seem over the top, I have to ask myself if it is doing any harm for this ingredient to exist? If not, then I suppose people should be able to enjoy what they want, whether it is pretentious or not.
    I especially support local shops and enjoy when they introduce new and interesting products. Always nice to try something new based on my own preferences and tastes!

    • Sorted

      Definitely not harming anyone, and it’s great to have a variety for all tastes and budgets. It also provides the opportunity for people to start small businesses with high standards of worth ethics, good pay for staff and the highest animal welfare. We once met a guy who smokes salmon in Stoke Newington, London. He plays the piano to the salmon while they are being smoked and sells his product all around the world. People fly over especially to buy his very expensive smoked salmon, but it’s the story behind it that sells it. You think of him sat there with his piano while eating it!

  9. Annie1962

    Price.. Packaging and the type of store it’s sold in i.e a farmer’s market.. Posh delicatessen.

    • Sorted

      That’s an interesting point of view. Why do you think famers markets are pretentious? Aren’t they just cutting out the middle man?

      • Jobbee

        I agree farmers markets( at least the ones I go to) aren’t pretentious there’s possibly pretentious stands but overall just good food

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