There is nothing scarier than walking into a restaurant and being handed a menu where you don’t understand anything. French cuisine may be much-vaunted but are you accidentally going to be ordering frog legs or pig guts?
Not that there is anything wrong with those who wish to order a yummy
plate of escargot, but I presume that everyone prefers to know what they are ordering before they order it. So here goes, the French-English Food dictionary, also known as the ABC of French Cuisine!
À emporter meal to go, takeaway food (opposite of “sur place” – eat in) Addition bill, receipt Agneau lamb Aïoli a Mediterranean sauce made of garlic, salt, and olive oil. Aligot mashed potatoes combined with Tomme d’Auvergne cheese Andouillette sausage made from pork intestines. Often smelly. Apéritif pre-meal drinks before sitting down for dinner (see list of top here). French apéritifs Apéro an informal get-together over drinks and . Usually held in the early evening with family and friends. finger foods Assiette plate
Baba au rhum spongy cake soaked in rum. Usually topped with whipped cream and berries. Baguette long traditional French bread Beignet fried dough, fritter Bien cuit well-cooked meat, usually steak. (Other options are “ saignant” – rare or “ à point” – medium) Boeuf bourgionion a traditional beef stew cooked in red wine from Burgundy. (See recipe here) Boeuf Bourgionion Bonbon candy Boudin Noir sausages filled with cooked or dried blood of pigs, cows, etc. Brioche a type of French pastry bread that is slightly sweet.
Cabillaud codfish Cacahuète peanut Café a cup of espresso. (See here for .) ordering other types of coffee in France Cake a , usually filled with bacon and olives. (A normal english cake is called a gâteau in French.) savory cake Calisson a traditional French candy from . Made out of fruit topped off with a thin layer of marzipan. Aix-en-Provence Canard duck (eg. “ confit de canard“, a dish you will regularly see on Parisian brasserie menus.) Carte the menu. (Carte de vin is the wine menu.) Cassoulet a traditional dish from Southern France consisting of white beans, sausages, and meats. (See here.) cassoulet recipe Cèpe porcini mushroom Champignon mushroom Charcuterie a variety of dried sausage, ham and meat products served at an apéro get-together. (Guide to composing a .) charcuterie board Charlotte a type of dessert where the tin mold is lined with ladyfinger biscuits and filled with layers of custard and fruit. Chèvre goat. (“fromage de chèvre” is goat cheese.) Chou cabbage Chou à la crème a small pastry ball filled with cream or custard Choucroute sauerkraut Cochon pig Compote a pureed fruit that is usually served to children as an or dessert after-school snack Comptoir the counter at a bar or restaurant. (In France, unless you are at a fancy restaurant, it is acceptable to go up to the counter to pay. Sometimes, it is even expected.) Confiture jam Coq au vin a traditional stew with chicken cooked in wine. (See here.) coq au vin recipe Coquille St. Jacques scallops dish that is usually served as an appetizer in France. (See here.) Coquille St. Jacques recipe Couteau knife Crème fraîche heavy cream Crêpe thin flat pancakes, originating in Bretagne ( ). (See Brittany and Crêpe Suzette recipes.) Crêpe Galette Bretonne Crevette shrimp Croque Monsieur/Madame a traditional sandwich served at lunch, that is smothered with cheese. (See here for .) a Croque Monsieur recipe Cru raw Cuillère spoon Cuit cooked
Dégustation tasting. (eg. “ Dégustation de ” – Champagne tasting) champagne Déjeuner lunch. “Pétit déjeuner” however means breakfast (small lunch). Dessert Dessert (get list of top French desserts here) Digestif a strong alcoholic after-dinner drink. (See popular .) digestifs in France Dîner dinner. Usually served after 8pm.
Eau water. (“ Eau de robinet” – tap water; “ Eau Gazeuse” – sparkling water; “ Eau plate” – still water) Entrée starter Épicé spicy Épinard spinach Escargot snails (See here.) how to eat escargot
Faire moitie moitie splitting in half (eg. spliting the receipt, or splitting a dessert) Farci stuffed or stuffing (eg. stuffed mushrooms) Fermier Farmer (referring to produce directly from the farm). Flan type of custard in a crust (see here) French flan recipe Foie liver. (“ ” is the goose liver delicacy.) Foie gras Fondue a traditional recipe that involves dipping bread in hot melted cheese dish served in a large pot. from the Alps mountains Fourchette fork Frit fried. (“Frites” is french fries.) Fromage cheese (See here for more on .) different types of French cheeses Fruits de mer seafood Fumé smoked. (“ Saumon fumé” is smoked salmon)
Galette a savory crêpe made with buckwheat flour. Galette des rois a special cake eaten in France on 3 Kings Day Gâteau cake Gaufre waffle Glace ice cream Goûter for children after-school snack Gratin a French culinary technique in the dish is topped with a browned crust of breadcrumbs or grated cheese. (See .) Recipe for Gratin Dauphinois Grenouille frog (eg. “cuisse de grenouille” meaning frog legs)
Haricot beans (eg “ haricots verts” is green beans) Harissa a spicy chili red paste from North Africa that is popular in France Homard lobster Huitres oyster
île flottant a French dessert consisting of meringue floating on crème anglaise.
Jambon ham (“ jambon cru” – salt-cured ham; “ jambon cuit” – cooked ham) Jus juice
Macarons a meringue-like cookie with cream in between 2 layers. Comes in a variety of flavors and colors. Maison Home (eg: “fait maison” meaning home-made. This is an official govt. distinction that restaurants in France are allowed to note on their menus if they meet certain requirements.) Moules mussels Mousse food that has been pureed and incorporated with small air bubbles to give it a light and airy texture. (See Strawberry mousse recipe.)
Navet turnip Noisette hazelnut Noix nut; walnut
Pain bread Pâté paste made of ground meats and organ meats (see here) pâté examples Pastis an anise flavored apéritif Pâtes pasta Pâtisserie pastry; pastry shop Petit pois peas Pichet Pitcher or Jug (eg. “ pichet de vin” meaning pitcher of wine, which is usually less expensive and less quantity than a full bottle of wine.) Piment spice. (“ pimenté” meaning spicy) Plat main dish. (eg. “ Plat du jour” meaning special of the day) Poisson fish Poivron bell pepper Poivre pepper (as in salt and pepper) Pomme apple Pomme de terre potato Porc pork Pot-au-feu a French beef stew with carrots, turnips, leeks, celery, and onions). Potiron pumpkin Poulet chicken (see ) recipe for Poulet Provençale Poulpe octopus Pourboire tip (Note: In France, the price usually includes the tip. If you wish, you can round up the bill.)
Quenelle a long oval dumpling made of fish that originated in the city of . Lyon Quiche a tart crust filled with pieces of cheese, meat, seafood or vegetables. (See recipes for and spinach quiche here.) quiche lorraine
Raclette a traditional that involves pouring melted cheese on to potatoes. Served with charcuterie ham and pickles. winter dish Ragout stew Ratatouille a vegetable stew made with zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. (See here.) ratatouille recipe Rillettes meat which has been seasoned then slow-cooked and submerged in fat for several hours. The rillettes are spread on bread and eaten (usually as part of a .) charcuterie platter Riz rice (eg. “ ” meaning rice pudding) Riz au Lait Rouleau roll
Saignant bloody; meat that is lightly cooked or rare (Other options are “ bien cuit” meaning well-cooked or “ à point” meaning medium.) Salsifis a root vegetable called salsify that is commonly eaten in France Saumon fumé smoked salmon Saussison a dry cured sausage Socca a type of flatbread from Nice (see ) Socca recipe Sommelier a member of the restaurant wait-staff who picks the wine and advises clients. Sous vide a French cooking technique in which food is placed in a plastic pouch (or glass jar) and cooked in a water bath for a long time. Surgelé frozen
Tartare raw meat or fish that has been chopped or shredded into small pieces. (See here.) Salmon tartare recipe Tarte flambée A thin pizza that is a specialty in along the French-German border. Usually made from fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thin-sliced onions and lardons. Alsace Also sometimes called Flammkuchen or Flammekueche. Tartiflette a traditional scallop potatoes dish from Savoy, France, made with reblochon cheese, lardons and onions. (See here.) tartiflette recipe Tartine Spread (eg. ) chocolate tartine Terrine paste made of ground meats and organ meats, similar to Pâté, that has been cooked in an earthern dish. Tranche slice Tripes animal guts (lining from the stomachs) of various farm animals Truffe truffle Truite trout
Un/Une one (French joke: if you are not sure if it is “ un baguette” or “ une baguette“, just ask for “ deux (2) baguettes“!)
Veau veal Velouté a non-chunky soup Verre glass. (“ Verrine” meaning a dish served in a glass cup.) Viande meat Vin wine Volaille poultry
XXL Restaurants in France do not serve xxl-size food portions. If you are really hungry, you should order entrée-plat-dessert (starter-main-dessert)
Zzzzzz that was a lot of food, time for some zzzz’s!
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