Grammar nerds, what’s wrong with this Lean Cuisine package? Can you chipotle-mash something?

Is it chipotle mashed - or mashed chipotle?

There is a guy at my office that eats Lean Cuisine’s for breakfast. And not breakfast Lean Cuisine’s, mind you; he eats the lunch and dinner varieties. Turkey tetrazzini. Meatloaf. Swallowed down with a liter bottle of Mountain Dew. Rise and shine, Matt, your Philly Style Steak and Cheese Panini is piping hot out of the microwave.

But that has nothing to do today’s grammar nerd challenge. The Lean Cuisine part of it is highly relevant. My co-worker’s propensity to start his day with a prepackaged dinner is not.

Today’s lunch conversation centered around my good friend Donna B.’s Lean Cuisine (or lean cuisine, without the capitalization, as they are apparently now branding themselves) packaging. As she was nuking this scrumptious ranchero braised beef concoction, I took note of the description of the side item: chipotle mashed sweet potatoes.

My first thought was Eats, Shoots & Leaves. How do you chipotle-mash something? Wouldn’t it be mashed chipotle sweet potatoes?

I’m not asking what sounds right. I’m asking what is right?

My friends threw out tons of examples, with garlic mashed potatoes being the first up for consideration. My stance? You can’t garlic mash something, either. You can mash garlic sweet potatoes, though. “Garlic-ed” mashed sweet potatoes makes sense, too, following the same convention as buttered popped corn.

The garlic, or in this instance, the chipotle, is typically mashed along with the potato, is it not? And along the same lines – ranchero braised beef? Am I missing something in the proper ordering of words here? Do you ranchero-braise your beef, or braise your ranchero beef? Oy vey.

Since I am a slightly grammatically challenged writer, I thought I would put this one to the general blog and tweetosphere and see what comes back. . . grammar nerds?

 

3 Responses to Grammar nerds, what’s wrong with this Lean Cuisine package? Can you chipotle-mash something?
  1. Erin Feldman (@ErinMFeldman) Reply

    Uh-oh. This one’s tough. I may have to dig into the grammar handbook this evening. Or re-read Eats, Shoots and Leaves. It does, however, seem to be a case for Write Right.

    • Joshua Merritt Reply

      Yes! Any digging would be much appreciated, even if it invalidates my TV dinner rant :-)

  2. [...] potatoes” sounds correct. Is it, though? I thought so until I read a convincing argument at Joshua Mer... writerightwords.com/write-right-commas-adjectives-and-mashed-potatoes

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