From the menu at my local Gordon Biersch restaurant, a dessert of Banana Spring Rolls with vanilla ice cream, “drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces”. This use of drizzle is very much a recipe and menu thing, something that takes us from the everyday world into the world of cookery.

From the additions series 1993-7 to OED2, indicating that the recipe/menu uses are actually pretty recent:

5. Cookery. trans. To pour or let fall in trickles over the surface of food; also, to cover in this way. Also intr. of the coating: to run in trickles. [This is a metaphorical extension from the weather verb, attested from the 16th century on.]

1958    Good Housek. Cake Bk. 42/2   While mixture is still warm, spoon over top of cake, letting it drizzle down the sides.

1961    in Webster (at cited word),   Drizzle, to shed or let fall in minute drops or particles.

1971    Sunday Express (Johannesburg) 28 Mar. (Home Jrnl.) 9/4   When done, dust with icing sugar or drizzle a little water icing on the crosses.

1977    C. McCullough Thorn Birds xvii. 407   Meggie beat green food coloring into a bowl of runny icing and began to drizzle it over already baked fir trees.

1979    Sunset (Desert ed.) Apr. 174/3   For a finale, serve a creamy molded dessert drizzled with port wine and sweetened with strawberries.

1984    Freetime Autumn 3/1   Fill it with scoops of ice cream, drizzle with hot chocolate, butterscotch or jam sauce.

Googling on {“drizzled with”} gets millions of raw ghits; just from the first page:

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes Drizzled with Honey; Root Vegetable Soup Drizzled with Truffle Oil; Sauteed Zucchini Batons with Prosciutto Drizzled with Caramelized Onion Sauce and Mango Sauce; Orange Biscotti Drizzled with Chocolate; Stilton-Pear Crostini Drizzled with Pumpkin Seed Oil; Vanilla Cupcakes Drizzled with Chocolate; Tomatoes Drizzled with Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar; Farm Fresh Corn Cakes with Bacon, drizzled with Ohio Maple Syrup; Blueberry Cornbread Drizzled with Honey

It’s not just desserts; you can drizzle stuff through all the courses of a meal.

The past participle predominates of course on menus, since they’re describing already composed dishes (while recipes will have other inflectional forms for giving instructions). On the menu use of past participles (but without explicit mention of drizzled), see Arnold Zwicky & Ann Zwicky on restaurant menus (American Speech, 1981):

PAST PARTICIPLE MODIFIERS. Because completed preparations are being described in menus, past participles like served, broiled, and marinated are extremely common. Among participles naming modes of cooking, broiled and poached seem to occur most often. Some menu participles – married, kissed, and handcrafted, for example – are not part of the vocabulary traditionally assocated with cooking, but most are cooking words, often modified – gently simmered, specially flavored, kettle-simmered, delicately broiled. Some of these participles, like topped and dipped, are characteristic of advertisements, rather than of ordinary conversation.

Part of the pleasure  (or the annoyance, if you’re so inclined) of drizzled is its specialization to the cookery registers of modern English. You see or hear drizzled with and you know you’re in the world of recipes and menus, or at least dealing with someone evoking those registers.

2 Responses to “drizzled”

  1. Jim Propp Says:

    I agree 100%. In fact, when I’m using Google to find a restaurant in an unfamiliar city, I find that putting “drizzled” into the search string increases my success rate (i.e., increases the proportion of New American Cuisine restaurants in the list Google gives me). See http://faculty.uml.edu/jpropp/menu-participles.html for my collection of menu participles. (Another good heuristic for fans of New American Cuisine is, look for a restaurant that’s named after its street address.)

  2. Food and drink postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (link) recipe/menu […]

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