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7 French Food Terms You Should Know Slideshow

7 French Food Terms You Should Know Slideshow

Whether you’re dining at a French restaurant in Paris, France, or Paris, Texas, knowing these terms come in handy

Imagine going to a restaurant and not having to do that. Instead of fumbling for your phone, you can impress your guest with your gourmand’s tongue. This list gives you the very basics of a French menu, as well as a few terms you might not come across too often — but when you do, you’ll look even more impressive.

7 French Food Terms You Should Know

Imagine going to a restaurant and not having to do that. This list gives you the very basics of a French menu, as well as a few terms you might not come across too often — but when you do, you’ll look even more impressive.


Amandine indicates a dish that has been sprinkled with almonds. It may not seem essential, but if you or your dining companion has a nut allergy, you’ll definitely want to know this word.


This is a term you should know not necessarily because you’ll come across it very often, but because it is a linguistic delight: it translates to “mouth amuser.” This is traditionally a very small course — just one or two bites — that the chef sends to the table shortly after you sit down. You’ll most often see it in very high-end restaurants.

Crème Fraîche

You’re probably thinking, I obviously know what crème fraîche is. However, a lot of people don’t seem to know that it is used in sweet and savory foods alike, or that, like yogurt, it has a bacterial component. It’s less sour, thinner, and higher in fat than traditional sour cream, and adds a velvety note to soups and a great contrast to fresh fruits.

En Croûte

En croûte means delicious. Technically, though, it means that something has been wrapped in pastry crust. You’ll find savory foods, like salmon or brie cheese, en croûte more often than sweet foods.


You’ll encounter this word more often when you cook than when you dine, but it’s still very good to know, as it is one of the basics of French cuisine. Mirepoix is a roughly cut mixture of vegetables, usually a mixture of onions, carrots, and celery, and it is the base of a variety of stocks and sauces.

Petits Fours

Petits fours, which means “small ovens,” are assorted small desserts that are usually served on a platter to the entire table at the end of a meal. Many French bakeries also sell them à la carte.


A stock-based white sauce made from either chicken, veal, or fish broth thickened with white roux (flour and butter). Along with tomato, hollandaise, Béchamel and espagnole, it is one of the five “mother sauces” of French cuisine.

Overview of French Cuisine History's [ edit | edit source ]

The French cooking style is considered to be one of the most refined, modern and elegant manners found in cuisines all over the world. Food is part of their culture, and famous French chefs make most exquisite dishes after original French recipes that have made France famous since centuries ago. However, the diversity and changes that characterize this cuisine are what makes it interesting. By the early eighteen century, bread and cereals were the basic ingredients in the daily diet. French fries have been introduced to this country in the XVIII century and gained so much popularity that they have been kept as part of the traditional French cuisine. Only with the beginning of the XIX century food has become a social etiquette and more sophisticated dishes emerged, mainly served in high societies. The improvement of transportation, especially the introduction of train, marked the culinary revolution, since every peasant had access to more elaborated meals, ingredients and condiments. Vegetables that grow on fertile French lands include potatoes, green beans, carrots, turnips, aubergines, courgettes, famous French mushrooms, like champignons, oyster mushrooms, porcinis and truffles. As a tradition kept along the course of history, wineries are spread all over the country, producing most refined French wines, served daily by locals.

10 French Terms Every Cook Should Know

Since diving back into The Escoffier Cookbook, I have realized that the book is filled with techniques and terms that are used often, but maybe not fully understood. The truth is, many of the words are just fancy synonyms for what people are already doing in their kitchen. Check out a list of French cooking terms, and what they really mean.
By Jennifer Post

A bisque is basically shellfish cooked in mirepoix (see #2). The term bisque, and its true meaning, have become diluted over the years. It has pretty much become a term for any creamy soup such as “tomato bisque.” However, for it to be an authentic bisque, it must contain shellfish.

Mirepoix refers to two parts onion to one part each of celery and carrot, chopped. This is used as a flavoring agent in soups, stews, or to cover meat when roasting. Sometimes bacon or salt pork is added to the mirepoix, but it is not needed.

You hear and see this term a lot, most likely at cocktail parties. But what exactly is a canapé? The term canapé has the same meaning as the term hors-d’œuvre, which is something smaller than an appetizer. Almost like a one-biter. In classic French preparation, canapés and hors’dœvre consist of small slices of bread slightly toasted and with a garnish on one side. The garnish is subject to taste and the ingredients that are on hand.

Fondue is most commonly heard referring to cheese. Which is correct. Fondue can mean a cheese preparation but it can also mean a pulpy state to which vegetables like tomatoes are reduced to by cooking.

5. Mise-en-Place

It is a general name given to those elementary preparations which are constantly resorted to during the various stages of most culinary operations. So basically, it means to have all of your ingredients ready to go when you are cooking so they are easily accessible and properly prepared according to the recipe or chef’s preference.

6. Pâte a Choux

When you think of chocolate eclairs or cream puffs, you might be wondering what the dough is that is used to make those pastries. Well, the dough is pâte a choux. It is a dough that consists of water, butter, salt, sugar, flour and eggs. The process of making it can be difficult to perfect at first, but just knowing what it is is a great start.

To poach a food item means to cook very slowly in a small amount of water at the lowest temperature. Many things can be poached such as eggs and poultry.

This New England Chef Accomplishes the Unexpected

A purée refers to any food that is strained through a sieve, so that it forms a complete mass. The consistency of the purée will depend on the ingredient being puréed. Any food can be puréed, not just soups and sauces.

Soufflé is a name given to a class of light, hot or cold preparations of fish, meat, poultry, etc. Also to sweets to which the whites of eggs are added if the preparation is served hot, and to which whipped cream is added if it is served cold.

What many people associate with just dessert, a soufflé can also be savory, including ingredients such as spinach.

10. Petit Four

A petit four is a french term for a small confectionery or savory appetizer. These can be small cakes, cupcakes, truffles, quiches, etc and is literally translated to “small oven.” There are thousands of recipes out there for petit four and each are unique, but for a true petit four, all items should be uniform.

Use classic French resources from the great chefs, such as Auguste Escoffier, in your own kitchen to learn and grow as a cook.

As a journalist, Jennifer loves the opportunity to write about almost anything. As food is her first love, being able to write about food is more than she could have dreamed. She is always on the hunt for recipes, restaurants, and anything else food related!

Fat, Literally, Is Flavor

In his encyclopedic “The Food of France” (1958), American journalist Waverley Root breaks down French cuisine in a way that’ still useful to think about regions and tradition: by fat. Specifically, Root looks at France as a nation of three major zones that correspond to the historic use of different cooking fats. The domain of butter comprises most of the country, from the mouth of the Loire river through the Touraine, through Paris and on to the northern border. The domain of olive oil corresponds to the south, especially Provence, Corsica, and the French Riviera. And the domain of lard (broadly animal fats: pork, goose, and duck) comprises Alsace-Lorraine in the east, the Central Plateau, especially Périgord.

french fries, or frites as they are called in French, are actually Belgian. Since Belgium is on the French border, and French is an official language in Belgium, the confusion arose.

Potatoes cut into long strips and deep-fried were served to American, Canadian, and British troops in Belgium during World War I. Those troops then took stories of &ldquofrench fries&rdquo home with them.

23 Mouthwatering Burger Recipes for National Burger Day

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A-Z of Cooking Terms: Everything you Need to Know in the Kitchen

Recipes can sometimes be a minefield of terms, jargon and foreign words that lead even the most gifted cook to question everything they know. We’re here to put an end to all the confusion and have compiled a comprehensive A-Z of cooking terms to help you out.

Al dente

Generally, this cooking term is used when referring to the cooking of pasta and rice, but technically includes vegetables and beans too. Al dente is translated as ‘to the tooth’ meaning something cooked but left with a bite of firmness.

Au gratin

Sprinkled with breadcrumbs and cheese, or both, and browned. The phrase ‘au gratin’ literally means “by grating” in French, or “with a crust”.

Au jus

With its own juices from cooking, often refers to steak or other meat.

Au sec

Description of a liquid that has been reduced until it’s almost nearly dry, a process often used in sauce making.


To cover a meat with a layer of fat before cooking, it maintains the moisture of the meat while it cooks to avoid overcooking.


To pour melted fat or the juices of the liquid over meat or other food while cooking to keep it moist.


A quick method of cooking food, usually green vegetables, whereby the item is basically scalded in boiling hot water for a short period of time and then refreshed in ice cold water. This ensures that the veggie retains its bright green colour and a good firm texture.


Normally a cooking term used in the States, broil is what we know as grilling. Basically, you preheat the hot rod or grill at the top of your oven until it gets exceptionally hot. Place the food on an oven tray under the preheated grill until it browns and has some incredible flavour.


Braising is an old French method of cooking meat. It uses a combination of dry and moist heat, dry being when the meat is seared at a high heat and moist when it’s gently cooked in a liquid. This cooking method is ideal with sinewy, tougher cuts of meat.

The process of soaking meat in a brine, or heavily salted water, before cooking.


The process of combining two or more ingredients so that they become smooth and uniform in texture and lose their individual characteristics.


Ironically, to bone a piece of meat is to remove the bone from it.


Butterflying food refers to splitting it through the centre to thin it out, but not cutting through it entirely.


A cartouche refers to a piece of greaseproof or baking paper that is used to create a lid over a pot or saucepan. Usually cut in a circle and placed over a dish with a small amount of liquid. In the instance of poaching, it stops steam from escaping, it can also prevent skins from developing on sauces.


Most often refers to butter, where the milk solids and water are rendered from the butterfat. This is done by gently melting the butter, allowing the two to separate and then skimming off the solids.


To coddle something is to cook it in water just below boiling point. More recently, the term specifically applies to eggs using a device called a coddler. The low cooking temperature produces a much softer egg than if you were to boil it. Coddling… definitely one of our favourite sounding cooking terms.


A type of clear liquid that has been clarified by using egg whites and flavoured stock to remove fat.


To remove the central section of some fruits, seeds and tougher material that is not normally consumed.


Regularly recognised with duck, but can include other meats, where the meat is cooked in its own fat (or other fat if necessary) at a low heat.


A non-heated method of cooking where the food item is packed with a salt mixture and left so that the moisture draws out.


When egg-based mixtures are cooked too quickly and the protein separates from the liquids, leaving a lumpy mixture behind.

Cut in

A method of blending, usually for pastry, where a fat is combined with flour. The method often refers to using a pastry blender to mix butter or shortening into the flour until the mixture is the size of peas.


A knife skill cut – the exact measurement changes but the shape is always a small square.


A small amount of soft food that has been formed into a round-ish shape. Yoghurt, whipped cream and mashed potatoes are all examples of foods that can be dolloped.


To coat moist foods with a dry ingredient before cooking to provide an even coating.


Dress has two definitions when it comes to cooking, firstly to coat foods (mostly salad leaves) in a sauce. It also refers to preparing poultry, fish and venison for cooking, which essentially is breaking them down off of their carcasses and sectioning the meat.

Deep fry

To cook food in a deep layer of hot oil.


To loosen bits of food that have stuck on the bottom of a pan by adding liquid such as stock or wine.


To remove the ends and the string from green beans.


The process of cooking off alcohol that’s been added to a hot pan by creating a burst of flames. The fumes are set alight and the flame goes out when the alcohol has burnt off.


Most commonly known as a very tender cut of beef, but can also refer to the meat of chicken and fish.


Refers to the process of gently breaking off small pieces of food, often for combining with other foods. For example, you would flake cooked fish to combine with cooked, mashed potatoes to make fish cakes.


The process of removing all fat, cartilage, and meat, from rib bones on a roast by cutting between the bones, often referring to lamb, beef, or pork rib.


Grilling food is applying dry heat to food either from above or below. In South Africa, grilling refers to cooking food under the grill in your oven (in the States this is called broiling) or can also refer to cooking food in a pan with grill lines.


A glaze is a sticky substance coated on top of food. It is usually used in terms of baking or cooking meats where a marinade will be brushed over the food continuously to form a glaze.


A gratin is a topping that is often either breadcrumbs or grated cheese that forms a brown crust when placed under a hot grill.


Refers to applying a fat to a roasting tray or cake tin to ensure that food doesn’t stick.


To break something down into much smaller pieces, for example, coffee beans or whole spices.


Refers to the husk, shell or external covering of a fruit. More specifically, it is the leafy green part of a strawberry.


To allow the flavour of an ingredient to soak into a liquid until the liquid takes on the flavour of the ingredient.


This cooking term means the process of poking holes into the muscle of meat in order to tenderise it, also known as needling.

Jus lie

Meat juice that has been lightly thickened with either cornflour or any binding thickener.


Refers to a knife skill cut where the shape resembles matchsticks.


To work dough into a soft, uniform and malleable texture by pressing, folding and stretching with the heel of your hand.


The process of inserting strips of fat into a piece of meat that doesn’t have as much fat, to melt and keep the meat from drying out.


A binding agent of cream and egg yolks used to thicken soups or sauces.


The soaking of an ingredient, usually fruit, in a liquid so that it takes on the flavour of the liquid. Can also be used to soften dried fruit.


To impart the flavour of a marinade into food usually requires some time to allow the flavours to develop. Can also be used to tenderise a cut of meat.


To finely divide food into uniform pieces that are smaller than diced or chopped foods.

Mise en place

This is the OG of kitchen cooking terms and means the preparation of ingredients, such as dicing onions, chopping veggies or measuring spices, before starting to cook. Check out more HERE.


The act of coating a food with a thin, even layer.


Injecting fat or flavours into an ingredient to enhance its flavour.

Par cooking

The process of not fully cooking food, so that it can be finished or reheated later.


A thin, flattened piece of meat, rolled with a stuffing of ingredients i.e, vegetables, which is then cooked before served.


This cooking term refers to coating in breadcrumbs.


A mixture of starch and liquid that’s added to ground meat for hamburger patties/meatballs. Usually a mixture of bread, breadcrumbs or panko with milk, buttermilk or yoghurt.


To boil food only slightly, often used to soften foods like potatoes before roasting them. Helps to speed up the cooking process.


To cook in gently bubbling liquids such as a stock or a broth.


Cooked food, usually vegetables, that have been mashed or blended to form a paste-like consistency.


The process of preserving food in a brine, which is a salt or vinegar solution.


The process of simmering or boiling a liquid, usually a stock or a sauce, to intensify the flavour or to thicken the consistency.


Using a low heat to melt the fat away from a food item, usually a piece of meat. This rendered fat can then be used to cook with.


Technically defined as a method of dry cooking a piece of meat, where the hot air envelopes the food to cook it evenly and to allow it to caramelise nicely.


A roux is a flour and fat mixture cooked together, which acts as a thickener in soups, stews and sauces. (link to mother sauce article)


To restore a dried food to its original consistency, or to change its texture, by letting it soak in warm water.


To halt the cooking process, usually that of vegetables after being blanched, by plunging them into ice-cold water.


Meaning ‘to jump’ in French, sauteeing is cooking food in a minimal amount of oil over a rather high heat.


To heat a liquid so it’s right about to reach the boiling point, where small bubbles start to appear around the edges.


Similar to infuse, steeping is the process of allowing dried ingredients to soak in a liquid until the liquid has taken on the flavour of the ingredient.

Shallow fry

To cook food in a shallow layer of preheated oil.


Process of cooking in hot liquids kept just below boiling point.


To remove a top layer of fat or scum that has developed on the surface of soups, stocks or sauces.


Method of cooking food by using steam.

Sear or brown

A method of cooking food over a high heat until caramelisation forms on the surface. This is often done before braising the food, to give it added flavour and is not usually intended to cook the food all the way through.


This refers to the gentle cooking of vegetables in butter or oil under a lid, so that their natural liquid is released to aid the cooking process. Often vegetables cooked this way will end up looking translucent.


Shallow, diagonal cuts made on the surface of meat and vegetables for the purpose of rendering fat, encouraging crispiness and flavour absorption.


To temper is the process of adding a small quantity of a hot liquid to a cold liquid in order to warm the cold liquid slightly. This is often be done before adding delicate ingredients to a hot mixture, where their format may be affected. An example of this would be adding eggs to a hot mixture – in order to prevent them curdling or scrambling you would add a little of the hot mix to the eggs and incorporate before adding the eggs into the heated mixture. Another example would be adding a cornflour slurry to a hot mixture a little of the hot mixture is added to the slurry to temper the temperature before adding the mix back to the main mixture.


To cut and peel ingredients such as parsnips or potatoes into a barrel-like shape. For aesthetic purposes but also to ensure that they cook properly.


To bind the legs and wings of a bird to its body, ensuring it maintains an even shape so that none of the extremities dry out.


The process of heating up milk products to 137 degrees celsius for a few seconds and chilling it down rapidly, resulting in milk that’s 99.9% free from bacteria and extending its shelf-life.


To cut a zig-zag or decorative pattern around fruit or vegetables to create decorative garnishes for food presentation.


A type of savoury sauce in which a light stock, such as chicken or fish, is thickened with a flour that is cooked and then allowed to turn light brown, thickened with a blond roux.


The process of beating food with a whisk to incorporate air and to increase volume.


The process of using a whisk to incorporate air into food or to blend ingredients together smoothly.


Refers to removing the outer part of citrus (called the zest) either by using a grater, a peeler or a knife.

If you found this A-Z of cooking terms useful, then check out our Guide to French Cooking Terms. Also, if you’re keen to brush on your baking knowledge? Check out our Glossary of Baking Terms.

9 Awesome French Cheeses Everyone Should Know

Notes: Le Châtelain is made like AOC Camembert, except that the milk is pasteurized, and hence Le Châtelain can be legally imported. Gently pasteurized so less truffly, fried egg-y, amazingly complex flavor is obliterated. Wildly mushroomy, earthy, and creamy. This is no grocery store Camembert this is the real deal.

Serve: With Chenin Blanc or a Normandy cider. Makes a great canapé with a dollop of date jam or onion confit.

Nothing says joie de vivre français like an oozing triple crème. The French enjoy a lot of cheese. And more importantly, they are deeply connected to and proud of their cheese. As well they should be! They have a rich and storied cheese history, a deep-rooted culture of cheese, and more than a thousand cheeses in their lexicon.

France takes its cheese so seriously, they have a whole system of Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC). This means "controlled designation of origin," and serves to protect the authenticity of cheese. For example, for a cheese to be awarded the AOC-protected name "Cantal," it must come from the Cantal mountains in Auvergne from the winter milk of Salers cows, made according to specific methodology, and aged a minimum of one month.

Only a small percentage of those cheeses get imported to the U.S., and most of them are made specifically for the American market. You guessed right: those cheeses tend to be less complex, factory-made, and tragically disappointing.

But don't despair—the French cheese lover in The States still has many glorious options. These are my favorite nine, although I have real love for other greats that didn't make this list: Epoisses! Alsatian munster! Abondance! Morbier! Bleu d'Auvergne! But hey, gotta leave something for next time.

Full disclosure: I work at Fairway market in NYC, where these gorgeous cheeses were shot.

When: late September to November

One of the best times to enjoy and explore France is during the season of Fall. The long summer has just ended and it’s starting to get a bit chilly. And helping you to adjust to the cold winter months are some of the best cuisines from the French’s kitchen.

1. Boeuf Bourguignon

The list for the best French cuisine for fall wouldn’t be complete without the ultimate comfort that is beef burgundy. The traditional dish takes hours and hours to cook but every minute is definitely worth it.

2. Tartiflette

Another king of comfort food that you will undoubtedly fall in love with is the popular dish from Haute Savoie. Dumped in one casserole are potatoes, lardons, onions and Reblochon cheese. Now, it couldn’t be more homey or better than that.

3. Butternut Squash Bisque

Is autumn getting too cool for you? You can get warmed up with a bowlful of butter nut squash bisque. Pureed to an ideal velvety texture, the soup offers a contrast of mild sweetness and savory herbs.

4. Classic French Toast (called Pain Perdu)

Breakfast, as they say, is the most important meal of the day. It’s not just because experts say so but also because breakfast dishes such as the classic French Toast is simply delicious.

5. Escargots de Bourgogne

The thought of eating snails may gross you out and that’s completely understandable. But don’t let that stop you from tasting the exotic dish which originated from Burgundian cooking.

6. Magret de Canard

One that is often recommended is Magret de Canard and rightly so because the dish in France is arguably the best in the world (personal opinion ::J)). If you happen to be in the South West of France, go check it out.

7. Coq au Vin

One of the easy ways to make chicken surprisingly delectable is by braising it in red wine. Add mushrooms, lardons and garlic to the mix and you have a classic Frensh favorite known as Coq au Vin.

8. Roasted Chicken

Roasted chicken is not only a staple in France but around the world. The French, however, as always have a special way to cook the poultry to an unbelievable level of goodness.

9. Pork Rillettes

Much like a pâté, pork rillettes is a spread made of chopped and cubed meat. The best known rillettes in France are from Tours and Anjou. It looks incredibly bronze and enticing which will go great with toast.

10. Soupe à l’oignon

As you may have already guessed, the French love their soups. The variety available is astounding but one that remains a top favorite is the traditional onion soup made of beef stock and onions. It’s just so comforting and mouth-wateringly delicious.

11. Pissaladière

There are many varieties of tarts in France but one that seems perfect for autumn is the Pissaladière from places such as Toulon, Nice or Marseille. The layers of ingredients make a savory appetizer, more like a sneaky peak into how good French cuisine is.

12. Cassoulet

Slow cooked to a wondrous rich and delectable taste, the cassoulet from the south of France is a culinary masterpiece. It is made of meat, pork skin and white beans. The meat can come in the form of duck, goose, pork sausages or mutton.

13. Crème Brûlée

A beautiful velvety texture, gorgeous burnt color and chilled custard makes this traditional French dessert irresistible. It’s very simple at a first glance but the undeniably good taste of every bite will leave you wanting more.

14. Pumpkin Mousse

Since pumpkin is abundant this time of year, an affordable dessert to try is pumpkin mousse. Creamy, sweet and spiked with a hint of spice, the dessert is a delicious seasonal treat that will make you love autumn all the more.

Products based on the aromatic essential oils of plant materials that are distilled by various means. In extracts, the highly concentrated oils are usually suspended in alcohol to make them easier to combine with other foods in cooking and baking. Almond, anise, lemon, mint, orange, peppermint, and vanilla are some commonly available extracts.

Some undiluted oils are also available, usually at pharmacies. These include oil of anise, oil of cinnamon, oil of cloves, oil of peppermint, and oil of wintergreen. Do not try to substitute oils for ground spices in recipes. Oils are so concentrated that they&aposre measured in drops, not teaspoons. Oil of cinnamon, for example, is 50 times stronger than ground cinnamon. You can, however, substitute 1 or 2 drops of an oil for ½ tsp. extract in frosting or candy recipes.