The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

12 French cooking terms — a glossary for kitchen dummies, or anyone not lucky enough to be an expat in France

Although Julia Child made a career out of teaching French cuisine to the masses, not all of us have had the opportunity to practice our culinary skills to the extent that good lady may have envisioned.

Still, the good news is, sometimes we use French cooking methods without even realizing it.

For those not lucky enough to live in France or to have studied French cooking for a dedicated period, here is a short glossary of common terms — as defined by culinary experts (Master Chefs) and dummies (whose experience tends toward Gordan Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares).

Master Chef Definition: Small lumps of fried dough.
Kitchen Nightmare Definition: Donut holes. (See: Dunkin Donut, Krispy Kremes, Fairground stands, etc.)

MC Definition: Browned butter.
KN Definition: The realistic result of squabbling children and the following recipe direction: “Gently melt 1 ounce of butter over a low heat.”

MC Definition: An appetizer consisting of a piece of bread or toast or a cracker topped with a savory spread (such as caviar or cheese.)
KN Definition: Ritz crackers and Marmite.

MC Definition: Browned bread crumbs.
KN Definition: The contents of the toaster’s crumb-catcher.

MC Definition: Small cubes of toasted or crisply fried bread
KN Definition: The best part of a salad.

MC Definition: A small cup-shaped mold used for making individual dishes.
KN Definition: A small cup-shaped mold in a set of six, bought in a fit of retail therapy enthusiasm in specialist kitchen shop. Used once for packet Jell-O. Now gathering dust at back of pantry, possibly with the addition of dead wasp or similar.

MC Definition: To dissolve cooking juices attached to the sides of a pot or pan with a little hot liquid to create a sauce. 
KN Definition: A way of cleaning the burnt bits off a pan without using a Brillo pad.

MC Definition: A piece of boneless meat, thinned out by using a mallet.
KN Definition: 1) A method of making the dregs of the freezer go further; 2) Friday night stress-reliever after aggravating week.

MC Definition: Covered with liquor and set alight briefly.
KN Definition: A sinful waste of good alcohol.

MC Definition: An earthenware container for soup.
KN Definition:  Oh come on. Everyone knows what Marmite really is. (See “Canape”)

MC Definition: Reheated food.
KN Definition:  A fancy word to disguise the fact you’re giving the family leftovers for the third day in a row.

MC Definition: A mixture of chopped ingredients baked in a loaf-shaped container, served at room temperature.
KN Definition: Day-old meat loaf

STAY TUNED for Monday’s Recipe Review – A Parisian Lunch in Manhattan.

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Image: MorgueFile

2 responses to “12 French cooking terms — a glossary for kitchen dummies, or anyone not lucky enough to be an expat in France

  1. Corine Gantz October 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    so funny and true I had to tweet it

  2. Kate Allison October 16, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Corine – I am honored!

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