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I'm looking for a word to describe food that is very tasty and unhealthy/fattening, probably served in oversize portions. For example: a mountain of pancakes with lots of butter, chocolate, fruit and cream, a whole bucket of bacon, a triple cheeseburger, etc.

I don't mean the oversize crazy dishes you sometimes see on YouTube videos but the ones you might actually serve at your table.

In Hebrew we would probably use the word: מֻשְׁחָת, which means corrupt or immoral and can also mean it is done only for the body's pleasure.

I'm not just talking about junk food.

Here are some examples:

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  • 1
    My grandmother's gefilte fish - now that's decadent, but still healthy! – Peter Point Oct 25 '16 at 12:41
  • 2
    Sybaritic, perhaps? – Mick Oct 25 '16 at 12:46
  • 30
    How about American? Obvious, really. – Mick Oct 25 '16 at 12:48
  • 2
    @Nahum I believe your question is misleading: clearly, you are asking about a meal, not about food. – michael.hor257k Oct 25 '16 at 12:50
  • 10
    Could you clarify what you mean by 'junk food' if you are not restricting the definition to that. i would quite likely call both the illustrated dishes 'junk'. – Spagirl Oct 25 '16 at 14:54

10 Answers 10

71

Consider decadent, which means:

1. Characterized by or reflecting a state of moral or cultural decline.

1.1. Luxuriously self-indulgent.

Foods are often characterized as "decadent" when they are overly luxurious, that is, sweet or fatty or otherwise bad for you but delicious (here).

For example, big burgers are often characterized as decadent (here). The same goes for certain breakfast foods (here) and desserts (here).

This word seems to accurately reflect the connotations of the Hebrew in suggesting "moral decline."

  • 16
    While I don't disagree that the foods qualify as decadent, I think there is a problem in that decadent would also cover foods which didn't fit the OP's question. For example, a meal with a modest glass of the world's rarest wine, the last scallop in the universe served on a bed of fois gras and washed down with civet coffee might be decadent while still leaving you needing a Big Mac on the way home. – Spagirl Oct 25 '16 at 14:57
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    @Spagirl the OP did say "probably served in oversize portions" (emphasis mine). Such a dish, if actually served in a normal-sized portion, would probably still be rather fattening! – Doktor J Oct 25 '16 at 18:15
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    Does decadent has to be unhealthy? My impression is that tasty and unhealthy food is somewhat different from decadent food? – Trilarion Oct 28 '16 at 8:16
  • Luxurious certainly implies "more than necessary", and "moral or cultural decline" and "self-indulgent" to me imply something to be guilty about. I'd find it hard to find something that fits both of those definitions that isn't unhealthy in some way, though I suppose this may lead into a discussion about nutrition rather than language. – user170207 Oct 28 '16 at 21:53
  • I don't think decadent is a good fit. Decadent doesn't really imply tastiness nor unhealthiness. – Trilarion Nov 2 '16 at 14:27
36

Along the same lines as "decadent" is "sinful":

: wrong according to religious or moral law
: very bad or wicked
: extremely enjoyable in a way that makes you feel guilty

As with "decadent", you can also find widespread usage of "sinful" with respect to foods both savory and sweet.

Although "sinful" has other primary meanings, in the context of food, the word is unlikely to be misconstrued. For example, if you call a brownie sinful, no one will take that to mean the brownie has murderous thoughts or rotten moral character. It's also unlikely that someone would take your characterization of the brownie to mean you believe the road to hell is paved with brownies. As for the bucket of bacon you mention in the question, "sinful" may invite some misunderstanding, but the overall context will likely make the intended meaning clear.

  • 1
    unfortunately not everyone does feel guilty about damaging their own health – Sarge Borsch Oct 26 '16 at 7:56
28

How about guilty pleasure [ODO]

Something, such as a film, television programme, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard.

It's not limited to food but it's common enough that the food channel has a show with the same name.

19

I have heard it described medically as comfort food. It varies from country to country and from one eating culture to another, the American perhaps being the most unhealthy, with Britain coming a very close second. But at least ours is tasty!

My own preferred type being preferably with a pint of bitter

  • 15
    I disagree. Comfort foods are not always unhealthy, but it might be accurate to say that they are often, e.g., decadent. To me, comfort food is rice porridge with berries on top. Just rice, milk, fruit, and maybe a bit of cinnamon. Hardly unhealthy. – user128216 Oct 25 '16 at 13:44
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    Agree with @FighterJet, my comfort foods are thick pea soups or haggis with the traditional neeps and tatties. However, I can see the illustrated foods being the sort of thing people consume when 'comfort eating' where it is in the process of eating, rather than the experience of the food itself that the comfort lies. – Spagirl Oct 25 '16 at 14:52
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    Comfort food may be closer to stodge than to the decadent dishes shown here - it's a matter of taste. The food one may eat in comfort eating isn't necessarily comfort food as @Spagirl says – Chris H Oct 26 '16 at 15:45
  • Chatty comments removed. Please use comments to make constructive suggestions for the author. Chatty comments more than welcome at English Language & Usage Chat. – MetaEd Oct 26 '16 at 17:09
  • On the contrary, comfort food seems to vary greatly from person to person, and also seems to be foods that remind the person eating them of their youth or happier times. For people who grew up with home cooked meals, comfort food usually includes examples of the meals that were frequently prepared. Note that my assertions here are based on anecdote and personal dicussions with others. My own comfort foods are almost entirely foods that my mom cooked when I was young, and they vary greatly in healthiness. – Todd Wilcox Oct 28 '16 at 12:16
8

Another alternative you could consider is hedonistic:

  1. Engaged in the pursuit of pleasure; sensually self-indulgent.
  • I think that this describes the person eating the food, not the food. – The111 Oct 29 '16 at 21:00
6

In Britain in the 1980s, there was an advertising campaign that used the slogan "naughty but nice". It claimed, perhaps apocryphally, that the person who came up with this slogan was Salman Rushdie.

  • The naughty but nice slogan was part of advertisements using cream by the Milk Marketing Board after it found it was selling too much skimmed milk. Rushdie did do copywriting for the MMB (and Aero) but did not claim that slogan – Henry Oct 27 '16 at 17:02
3

I have seen the word 'gluttonous' used in this fashion, but it's not particularly correct to describe the food that way.

Lavish is also an option for describing such a meal, though it sounds odd to me to use for a single food.

3

Chazzerai is an English word (according to https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chazzerai), from Yiddish (chazzer, someone who eats like a pig) and Hebrew. My grandmother used it in English all the time to mean really non-nutritious food (among other things). It's very evocative.

  • 1
    It means "Food that is awful (disgusting, fit for pigs)." Exactly the opposite of what is meant here. – michael.hor257k Oct 26 '16 at 0:44
  • Well, my grandmother used it to mean junk food. – David Handelman Oct 26 '16 at 0:48
  • It could apply to junk food - if it were of poor quality. OP said expressly he is not talking about junk food as such. He is talking about indulging in gluttony. -- Though you could use chazzerai to describe the behavior, not the food. – michael.hor257k Oct 26 '16 at 0:55
2

This word isn't in the dictionary (at least not under this definition) as it's a colloquialism, but I've heard people use the term calorific to describe these types of food. It's a portmanteau of 'calorie' and 'terrific'.

  • 1
    Actually, "calorific" is in the dictionary, and it is not a portmanteau. It is an adjective form of "calorie" (the other common adjective form being "caloric"). As such, it simply means "having or relating to calories". The portmanteau interpretation is clever, though! – Cody Gray Oct 26 '16 at 13:45
  • @CodyGray Thanks! I was aware it was in the dictionary under another definition, but I thought this definition is different enough to warrant the differing explanation. – Ian Newson Oct 26 '16 at 15:41
2

I suggest the name for unhealthy food is "Junk food"

  • 3
    You didn't let that clear "I'm not just talking about junk food" in the question bother you, huh? – user4683 Oct 28 '16 at 8:23
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    @Alex Well, if we're strictly adhering to the question as phrased, then I think the only strictly accurate response is to close it as being unanswerable - because the question as it's written is in fact describing junk food. What's the point in asking a question where you state upfront that you don't want to hear the actual answer? A clearer and more direct question would have been "what is another phrase for junk food, with negative and fairly judgemental connotations?" – Nye Oct 28 '16 at 16:57
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    @Nye Junk food isn't the answer; you can tell because the questioner selected a different one (this also, strictly, highlights the question as an answerable one); one which is a superset of the foods described as junk food. He went out of the way to demonstrate he was after something more nuanced than that. He specified oversize portions; there's nothing about that implicit in the term junk food, and having a bucket of bacon doesn't promote it into the junk food category. As an answer to the question "what's another name for unhealthy food" junk food is fine - just not for this question. – user4683 Oct 31 '16 at 9:30

protected by user140086 Oct 26 '16 at 16:02

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