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Beyond ‘Hangry’: New Terms to Describe Our Most Common Feelings About Food

Inspired by a recent post on The Cut, here are some other new words to describe your food angst

Two hands toast wine glasses at a restaurant table. Yulia Grigoryeva/Shutterstock

Earlier this week, The Cut published a compelling list of 78 “new emotions,” identifying complex feelings previously unnamed in our everyday lexicon, like “homerriment” (“The feeling of being greeted by a pet or person who is unself-consciously delighted to see you”) and the excellent “moral masturbation” (“The solitary pleasure of being right”).

Among these emotions, I came across “mid-meal regret,” defined by writer Bryan Washington as: “The unsettling feeling that arises when eating one thing while simultaneously knowing you’d rather be eating something else.”

Besides being endlessly relatable (I experience mid-meal regret basically anytime I pick up a salad), this excellent Cut blog inspired me to come up with my own food-related emotions. We all know the sensation of being “hangry”; it’s time we grow our vocabularies to explain the ways food makes us feel.


After trying and failing at successfully executing a new recipe, a bubbling of fury so uncontainable that it ends in categorical destruction of whatever poor excuse for food you produced.

When you don’t often venture away from your stable of tried-and-true dishes, failing at an unfamiliar recipe — or, put another way, having a recipe fail you — is not just a cooking disappointment, but a soul-crushing breach of the faith that you placed in your own skill, and an argument against the very concept of risk-taking. I once tried to make a pound cake; the attempt ended with me mangling the flavorless brick with my bare hands, squeezing cake into crumbs in a pure distillation of recipe rage.


That special kind of hunger induced by a trip to the grocery store on an empty stomach.

See: snack aisle, hot bar, the entirety of Trader Joe’s.

Named after the “hunger hormone” ghrelin. In a study in which some participants were injected with the hormone and told to bid on food and non-edible items, those participants were willing to pay more for food and less for everything else.


The sudden questioning of your own corporeality after a fourth failed attempt to get the bartender’s attention.

Am I a specter? Have I escaped this plane of existence? No, I just lack presence.


When taking the first bite of a meal that is so sublime, the immediate understanding that you’ll spend the rest of your life chasing that exquisite high.

The best fried rice I’ve had to this day was in Kyoto, in a ramen shop tucked away in a long, nondescript shopping arcade typical of Japan. There, seated alone, I found gastronomic ecstasy in a bowl of fried rice: grains that were lusciously moist and yet individually defined, lip-smacking umami from a perfect wash of soy sauce caramelized over high heat, the slightest hint of pork from barely there chunks scattered alongside whispers of egg. By now, I’ve forgotten the name of the shop, but the memory of that fried rice remains, the ghost of its flavor just beyond reach.


An overwhelming sense of love for your parents (or other familial figures), felt most keenly when reheating a Tupperware container of their home cooking.

Each reunion ends with a bundle of painstakingly prepared dishes, either thrust into your hands on your way out the door or left in your fridge as they say goodbye.

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