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the word decadent applying to food

koshergourmetmart Jul 16, 2009 08:39 AM

When did the word decadent start applying to food? The official defintions are:

A person who has fallen into a decadent state (morally or artistically)
Nouns denoting people

Hypernyms ("decadent" is a kind of...):

bad person (a person who does harm to others)

DECADENT (adjective)

Marked by excessive self-indulgence and moral decay



Context examples:

a decadent life of excessive money and no sense of responsibility / a group of effete self-professed intellectuals


indulgent (characterized by or given to yielding to the wishes of someone)

It seems like a negative comment rather than a positive one

  1. Scargod Aug 29, 2009 03:34 AM

    Some of us know absolutely for certain that we will go to hell for the desserts we eat! Heaven or hell? Before, during or after eating dessert? Sometimes hard to tell the difference here on earth surrounded by the sinful excesses of desserts, especially at the buffets! That's why I don't go to buffets... sinful.
    Now, where did I put my squeeze bottle of chocolate syrup and the Cherry Garcia?

    1. a
      AngelSanctuary Aug 29, 2009 12:00 AM

      Well not as much as I hate the word sinful to describe a dessert. I'll like to enjoy something without relating it to hell thank you.

      1. s
        soupkitten Jul 19, 2009 11:12 AM

        my dad used to refer to really over-the-top, sweet on top of sweet on top of sweet, dessert offerings as *decadent.*

        as in: "wow, the double-dutch-brownie triple earthquake with fudge chunk chocolate ice cream, cookie crumbles, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles really sounds decadent. i'd better have another piece of your mom's peach pie instead." ;-P

        1 Reply
        1. re: soupkitten
          cuccubear Aug 5, 2009 12:01 PM

          Your father and I are in agreement. That 's what I consider decadent as well.

        2. s
          smartie Jul 18, 2009 09:57 AM

          you could perhaps argue that eating endangered species is decadent. I may also consider drinking bottled water flown thousands of miles when we have perfectly good stuff locally or in the tap as decadent or indulgent.

          1. FoodFuser Jul 17, 2009 10:50 PM

            Mea culpa decadentata
            I've eaten more feasts than I oughta.
            Yet when Sunday will dawn
            I'll awake, and I'll yawn
            And assemble another Frittata.

            5 Replies
            1. re: FoodFuser
              kattyeyes Jul 18, 2009 05:42 AM

              Line 6: Or maybe you should try a strata! :)

              1. re: kattyeyes
                Leonardo Jul 18, 2009 06:43 AM

                I always roll my eyes to myself when the server describes a dessert as such. If a dessert is the most decadent thing in my life, I've led a pretty sad boring one devoid of any and all actual sin, overindulgence, risk and adventure!

                1. re: Leonardo
                  fern Jul 18, 2009 06:45 AM

                  I'd have to agree, Leonardo, that if that is the most decadance you've experienced you have missed out and I sincerely hope it is not the case.

                  1. re: Leonardo
                    Paula76 Jul 18, 2009 08:43 AM

                    I beg to differ...some of my most adventurous and exciting times have involved food so for me, to think of a dessert as decadent is fitting as the potential pleasure it could provide if such promise is fulfilled is an almost erotic experience.

                    Call me sad if you like but I don't consider myself lacking in excitement for it...

                    1. re: Leonardo
                      danhole Jul 19, 2009 11:00 AM

                      I hardly ever have a dessert in a restaurant, so it baffles me that the word decadent brings dessert to mind. Now there was one chocolate mousse cake that I had that was over indulgent., therefore could be called decadent, but I shared with 2 other people, and we all had quite enough of it by the end. Not so decadent in my book. But there are 2 other dishes I have had, that were not desserts, that I considered to be decadent, as in dishes I would only have on very special occasions because they were so goo and probably not that healthy. Still, my mouth waters every time I think of these dishes!

                2. Caralien Jul 17, 2009 07:01 PM

                  Recommended reading: Benjamin Franklin talking to his gout:

                  or pairing foie gras and sauternes: too much at once! unless in small portions.

                  There are the decadent books (yes, I've read them all

                  which also include a turduken, in which the only piece eaten is the olive.

                  So yes, it can be taken to extremes. But indulged in occasionally? The negativity makes it oh so succulent and more appealing.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Caralien
                    kattyeyes Jul 17, 2009 07:03 PM

                    Now, see, there's a word I DON'T like about food 'cause it starts with "SUCK!" :) Ironic. Like when people would say "bad" for "good!" HA HA.

                    1. re: kattyeyes
                      Caralien Jul 17, 2009 07:12 PM

                      all food is good and innocent (per Sam Fujisaka in a defense for white trash food monnikers being inane).

                      Food=good. Pleasure=good

                      What's the problem?

                      (being realistic, yes, I've gained weight in my 30s, but who cares? I enjoy food and am less neurotic). Cheers to good food and wine.

                      1. re: Caralien
                        kattyeyes Jul 17, 2009 07:59 PM

                        The "problem" is there can be such thing as too much of a good thing. I, for one, would like to continue to fit in my current clothes and not "graduate" to a new size, thank you--thus my references to "naughty" and "behaving." The food is always good. I know both how to cook it/bake it and where to find it out. That is not a problem. But restraint sometimes is. Oh, well!

                        1. re: kattyeyes
                          Caralien Jul 17, 2009 09:39 PM

                          Kattyeyes--I'm with you. I won't buy anything over a size 4 and use my clothing as a guage as whether I've been overindulging!

                      2. re: kattyeyes
                        c oliver Jul 18, 2009 11:23 AM

                        "Suck" is one of my favorite words :)

                    2. Veggo Jul 17, 2009 06:25 PM

                      If eating shark fin soup is not prima facie evidence of moral decay, then the word 'decadent' should be purged from our lexicon.

                      1. mrbigshotno.1 Jul 17, 2009 05:48 PM

                        I don't care about references to something being "decadent", "sinful" etc. I don't like or think it's funny or "cool" to characterize a well prepared food item as "addictive like crack" how would someone know unless they are a "crackhead"? Sorry this term just doesn't fit and isn't funny!

                        18 Replies
                        1. re: mrbigshotno.1
                          kattyeyes Jul 17, 2009 06:42 PM

                          I refer to Fancy Feast as crack for cats. My sincere apologies to any "crackheads" I may have offended! ;) But Fancy Feast IS a magic vehicle for medicine for my cat takes 3x a day. I guess those of us who wouldn't recognize crack if it stared us in the face ought to just say it something is sooooooooooooooooooo addictive. But crack sounds edgier.

                          Others get bent of shape when people say food is "naughty" or that you're being "naughty" when you're eating certain foods. I say being naughty is fun--but I prefer how my clothes fit when I'm "behaving" better (or to be dull, being careful about my caloric intake).

                          Decadent desserts--bring 'em on! I'll walk 'em off and eat yogurt as penance later on!

                          1. re: kattyeyes
                            fern Jul 17, 2009 09:50 PM

                            apology accepted.

                          2. re: mrbigshotno.1
                            Scargod Jul 18, 2009 06:09 AM

                            I don't see anything wrong or inappropriate about the terms decadent or sinful. Some people can sit and eat ice cream till the whole container is gone or eat a cake pan of brownies in one sitting. How about a whole bag of chips or one beer after another, till they're all gone? And these and others are not addictive, like drinking Cokes for the sugar and caffeine? No chocoholics out there? There's no "sinning" involved in gluttony, lack of discipline or loss of control?

                            Surely part of a food being labeled "decadent" is the potential harm it could do if consumed in excess. Desserts called "Death by Chocolate"?
                            Do I have to be something before I can know about it? I sure hope not! How about the sayings like, "If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck... or, "I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy".
                            I think I can know decadent food without being overweight or without having a bad diet.
                            Metaphors are commonplace in communicating meanings. Perhaps it is not PC to use drug references for you. Perhaps we should use phrases like, "He was all over that dessert, like a duck on a June bug" or "that broad had roller heels for that dessert tray!"?

                            1. re: Scargod
                              fern Jul 18, 2009 06:33 AM

                              Those were NOT roller heels...

                              Anyway, I believe decadence can be an appropriate word when describing food/eating. I recently made chowser's "Man-Catcher" brownies. One batch calls for 3 sticks of butter, 6 eggs, and 4 c sugar (2 of those brown). They are delicious, rich, fattening, and artery-clogging and I have eaten more than my share. If this isn't decadent, what is? And what's wrong with that once in a while?

                              1. re: fern
                                kattyeyes Jul 18, 2009 06:38 AM

                                Well, shoot, it's EASY to "catch" a man when he's WEIGHED DOWN like that. ;) Problem is, you have to keep feeding him. JK, JK!!!

                                Speaking of words that don't work (I agree with you guys that "decadent" DOES work beautifully, btw), I'm watching Food Network and this woman just said, "It SMELLS like a million dollars!" Um, yeah? I get LOOKS like a million dollars, but SMELLS like it just cracked us up.

                                1. re: kattyeyes
                                  fern Jul 18, 2009 06:42 AM

                                  He's downright hog-tied, isn't he? And thanks to Chowhound, I just keep those tasty morsels coming. The man is going nowhere. ;)

                                  Smells like a million, eh? Maybe I don't miss cable. :)

                              2. re: Scargod
                                babette feasts Jul 18, 2009 10:42 AM

                                makes me happy to be atheist, don't have to worry about sin and can eat as much chocolate as I see fit

                                1. re: babette feasts
                                  Scargod Jul 18, 2009 11:24 AM

                                  I am agnostic. To me sin is personal (we have our own definitions), and in some instances it is important to me. Moderation in eating is good. Then I can do more little sins, like eating crispy duck, foie gras or eating dessert once in a while.

                                  1. re: Scargod
                                    kattyeyes Jul 18, 2009 07:46 PM

                                    Agnostic also and dessert is less fattening when shared with a friend (thank god, or whoever!). HA HA!

                                    1. re: Scargod
                                      babette feasts Jul 19, 2009 12:09 AM

                                      I don't think food is sinful, and applying the term to food, especially desserts, really irks me. I'm a pastry chef, so what am I, the devil? Decadent, yes, but not sinful. Now gluttony can certainly be taken to an unhealthy extreme, but two ounces of chocolate once a week - i.e. a particularly intense restaurant dessert - may be decadent or indulgent but it is neither sinful nor gluttonous in my book. My desserts are neither 'wicked' nor designed to kill you, but ideally bring a few moments of joy in this life that needs more of it.

                                      1. re: babette feasts
                                        Scargod Jul 19, 2009 03:34 AM

                                        Yes, you are the Devil's Advocate!
                                        As I said, I have MY definitions for some sins which might mesh well with your definitions of decadence. I like my one cup of strong coffee each morning and a scotch in the evening. I love good chocolate, though rarely have it around.
                                        I have my hot button words, too, like, "all you can eat buffet". I'd much rather have one of your desserts!
                                        You should post some pictures of your desserts! Your avitar is a tease and hardly satisfying. From what little I can make out, it looks like a work of art.

                                        1. re: babette feasts
                                          danieljdwyer Jul 19, 2009 06:14 AM

                                          An example of how dessert can be sinful:
                                          Pope Leo X (from the de' Medici family; one of Michaelangelo's great patrons) is rumored to have had a naked, prepubescent boy, entirely covered in gold paint, pop out of a cake at a feast celebrating his election to the papacy. The boy died shortly thereafter due to toxins in the paint.

                                          1. re: danieljdwyer
                                            Cachetes Jul 19, 2009 06:19 AM

                                            That's twisted.

                                    2. re: Scargod
                                      Reginabonita Nov 18, 2011 12:47 AM

                                      reading your comment made me think about the time my mother in law saw my eight year old boy eat one slice of nice ham (without any bread) and she called that a "decadent behaviour". We were all having breakfast at the table and he ate the same things we did: an egg and ham sandwich. However, after eating his sadwiched he asked me if he could have just one slice of that nice ham, to which I agreed. Trying to comply with "etiquete", he took the ham nicely with a fork, folded it with his silverware and started eating it with fork and knife (which I personally find exagerating because he could have eating it with his hands). When my mother in law saw him eating the ham, she right away said to my husband that the kid was being "decadent" (in a negative way) by eating the ham without bread. Now I would like to ask you and the rest of the Chow gang wether you think its decadent for an eigh year old to try a piece of ham without turning it into a sandwich, something "decadent", especially when he has already eating a nutritious meal in the style and way my husbands family finds "proper". (btw, he is not overweight).

                                      I think maybe it is the difference in cultures. I come from a latinamerican country while my husbands family come from The Netherlands. Maybe in the Netherlands think that eating ham without bread is decadent...? maybe some one of you can help me find the reason for such way of thinking. Thank you

                                      1. re: Reginabonita
                                        linguafood Nov 18, 2011 09:26 AM

                                        Ha! What a lovely MIL.

                                        One of my favorite "dinners" as a kind was "cheese without bread". Gouda, a thick slice. Who needs bread, I say? Thankfully, my dad wasn't a jerk about it.

                                        1. re: Reginabonita
                                          sueatmo Nov 19, 2011 03:23 PM

                                          Not decadent. (I'm a MIL and I would never say that. In fact I find anything of any sort my grandchild does is adorable. Look--he walks! Look--he eats! Look--he eats ham with his hands. Sigh, he's so cute.) He asked for the ham, he ate with a fork using the best manners he knew, and so what's the problem MIL? But, I'm not from Netherlands, either.

                                          I wouldn't worry about this too much. It is too bad MIL didn't keep her opinion to herself. You are not at fault.

                                      2. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                        hotoynoodle Jul 19, 2009 12:03 PM

                                        to mrbig:

                                        crackheads don't even eat.

                                        1. re: hotoynoodle
                                          kattyeyes Jul 19, 2009 03:55 PM

                                          LOL, good point. I shouldn't feel so bad about my Fancy Feast comment then! ;)

                                      3. Sam Fujisaka Jul 17, 2009 05:27 PM

                                        What would you call my ravioli made of Alba Quercus Reserve ham, foie gras, and Caciocavallo Podolico cheese; with a sauce of more Caciocavallo Podolico, 1787 Sauterne from Château Yquem, a large pinch of saffron, and a touch of reduced Tieguanyin tea, topped with Périgord truffle?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                          Gio Jul 17, 2009 05:39 PM


                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                            cimui Jul 17, 2009 05:48 PM

                                            Nothing... I'm speechless and there's drool dripping off my chin.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                              billieboy Jul 17, 2009 06:50 PM

                                              You stole that from the Betty Crocker Bisquick book didn't you? :-)

                                              1. re: billieboy
                                                Sam Fujisaka Jul 17, 2009 07:58 PM

                                                There is always someone who brings out the truth! *^%&*(

                                              2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                c oliver Jul 18, 2009 11:19 AM

                                                I'm calling it dinner at your house. Please advise the wine you'd like us to bring! Holey moley.

                                              3. JungMann Jul 16, 2009 08:50 AM

                                                Food can certainly be indulgent, which is what "decadent" connotes in relation to food. It's the same concept as calling chocolate "sinful."

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: JungMann
                                                  koshergourmetmart Jul 16, 2009 08:54 AM

                                                  i guess I am giving in to my needs with a decadent dessert?

                                                  1. re: koshergourmetmart
                                                    danhole Jul 16, 2009 09:46 AM

                                                    Here is another definition:

                                                    From the Miriam Webster Online dictionary of the word decadent:
                                                    3 : characterized by or appealing to self-indulgence <decadent pleasures>

                                                    So I guess you are giving into your needs with a decadent dessert ;-)

                                                    1. re: danhole
                                                      Scargod Jul 17, 2009 09:28 PM

                                                      Morally sinful food you lust for! Morally sinful to make a dessert so outrageous, so unhealthy and so tempting?

                                                      1. re: Scargod
                                                        kattyeyes Jul 17, 2009 09:34 PM

                                                        "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than die with the saints...the sinners are much more fun..." (thank you Billy Joel)

                                                        I'll have what he's having. See, friends like you are getting me into trouble but I'm enjoying every bite. MOO.

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