By Aimee Reneau Tafreshi
Some of us Berries love food almost as much as we love our own children. What better way to combine two loves than by honoring your favorite noshes by naming your child after them? For years, food and baby names have occasionally overlapped. Established spice names such as Rosemary, Sage and Ginger come to mind. In recent years, more out-of-the-box examples have emerged, such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s daughter Apple. I decided to dig beyond the usual suspects to round up a list of food-inspired names that are seldom heard but ripe for the picking.
As the sole contender in the legume category, Pinto makes a colorful choice. Pinto sounds accessible and a tad rugged along the lines of Wyatt and Luke. Beside pinto beans, the name calls to mind coltish pinto horses and the beautiful Indian actress, Freida Pinto.
The biggest catch of names emerged from the deep blue sea. In the fish and seafood category, there are many names that are obscure enough that most will not associate your baby with a fish or gastropod. Abalone conveys an outer toughness with an inner beauty. If you like salmon, then its cousin, Char, might work for a boy’s name, with a hardy nature and coolness. For a name that is sweet and mild-mannered with a hint of the exotic, Swai makes for a unique choice and is reminiscent of Kai. A popular game fish, Cobia has likeability and a twist on the more familiar sounding Coby.
A crab exported from Australia to upscale restaurants in the U.S., Spanner comes with a built-in cachet—it’s an eco-friendly choice, as the crab is harvested using sustainable practices, and presents a twist on Tanner. Escolar, from the Gulf of Mexico, has a Latin flavor and calls to mind the Spanish surname Escobar.
For a spin on the All-American Jake, consider Hake, a New England white fish. For a more girlish sound, Hoki sounds short and sweet. Pollock, a masculine name of Scottish origin, could pay homage to the American painter, Jackson Pollock. Pompano has a modern and artsy surname ring to it and was the namesake for two U.S. Navy submarines. Shad (rhymes with Chad) peaked in the 1970s and may be due for a revival.
For those who prefer their food leafy and full of vitamins, a handful of veggies lend inspiration. Amaranth has a Greek goddess-sounding vibe; adding an –e to the end could create extra oomph to this exotic choice. Kale, the leafy green du jour, makes for a modern sounding choice for a boy. Consider Cael or Cale if the original spelling is too reminiscent of the vegetable.
Another leafy green to consider is Romaine. For girls, Romaine achieved Top 1000 status at the beginning of the 20th century through the 1930s. Romaine is the French version of Roman, which has enjoyed steady popularity in the U.S. Scarlett Johansson was recently engaged to French journalist Romain Dauriac.
If you like Soren but are looking for a slight variation, how about Sorrel? This perennial herb has been used for centuries throughout the world and might be ripe for baby name usage. Sorrel could work well for a redhead, as it also refers to the coat of a reddish brown horse. Do you love Georgia but worry about her growing popularity? How about Vidalia to pay tribute to the Southern state? Vidalia onions are Georgia’s official state vegetable, where they are exclusively grown. The onion has also inspired several 1990s songs about women named Vidalia.
Fruits provide name offshoots as well. Clementine, bright, dainty and a favorite of preschoolers, hasn’t cracked the Top 1000 baby names since around the mid-20th century. This short list favorite of mine sounds creative and hip and is enjoying great popularity in France. Boysen, as in the berry, is a genetic amalgamation of four berry types. Boysen is a funky alternative to the omnipresent Braden family of names. And finally, Durian, known as the “king of fruits” in Southeast Asia, has a colorful reputation and history in the Far East. Durian has a gender-neutral vibe and would stand out in a crowd.
And now, to my favorite food, cheese! From the “A” list, Ambert, Aragon and Autun jump out as name contenders. Ambert jazzes up old school Amber with an extra consonant, while Aragon evokes a damsel from the Middle Ages. Autun shortens Autumn into a modern sound. From the Bs and Cs crowd, and Crowley make for hip surname choices. Derby, a cool spin on Darby, could work for horseracing fans as well. Innes Button cheese lends its first name as an exotic alternative to Agnes.
If you are looking for a name that celebrates the birth of your child and hones in on the blue craze, how about Jubilee Blue? If Jubilee is a little too over the top, then what about the more grounded Meredith Blue? Another ready-made cheese pairing is Loch Arthur; it combines the novel Loch with the steadfast Arthur. If you like the name Margot but find it too plain, throw in a dash of peppers and herbs to create the French version, Margotin.
For more mainstream sounding choices, I unearthed four beautiful cheese inspired names for your little pink bundle: Meira, Orla, Sirene and Tala. Orla, an Irish name meaning “golden princess,” is in vogue across the pond – this could work as a boys’ name as well. Want to honor your grandmother Irene but modernize her name? Sirene has a sophisticated French sound and is the French variation of Sirena. Tala, a once popular Australian cheese that is no longer produced, blends the earthiness of the cheese’s flavor with its exotic heritage.
So for parents who want to push the baby-naming envelope into largely “un-tasted” territory, inspiration may be only one grocery store aisle away.
Aimee Reneau Tafreshi is a former litigator, mother of three and wife to a Navy submariner. She is passionate about all things baby names. She has previously ghostwritten for a prominent Texas-based copywriter and also written for “Study Breaks” magazine, The Daily Texan, and The Whisper, a legal e-publication. She is finishing her first novel while traversing the globe in support of her husband’s Naval career.