Friday, October 10, 2008
Food for Thought
Like thousands of others I'm following the fortunes of the 'Restaurant' wannabees. I watch the programme with a mixture of disbelief and embarrassment. Why, in God's name aren't they better prepared and better organised? And above all what on earth drives them to submit themselves to the scrutiny of several thousand viewers, their poor, starving customers, two of the most humourless adjudicators and the eagle eye of the great Raymond Blanc ? Are they mad?
It must be the lure of the prize, their own restaurant. The idea that they will be running their own restaurant is somewhat fanciful, as the prize winners will still be working for someone other than themselves ....Raymond himself. And sweet, kind, charmingly Gallic as he may seem, he'll be like every other successful entrepreneur when you actually work for him. A very, very hard taskmaster. How do the hopeful contestants think he got to be where he is today?
Observing the shenanigans of the contestants from a distance is quite enlightening. I've been away from the UK for so long, I've actually forgotten that a decent bottle of wine can cost twenty quid from an off-licence.And I've also forgotten that British restaurants 'turn tables'.
What a philistine habit that is. It's almost unheard of here, certainly in rural eating places. When we first came to France I would ring up to book a table, and then wonder why they didn't ask me what time I wanted it for. They weren't interested in my carefully rehearsed time-telling. If I wanted a table for lunch, well they opened at 12...why should I stipulate a time? No-one else would be taking our table...it was ours for as long as we wanted.
Being asked to vacate your table would be tantamount to committing catering hari-kari. No-one would ever patronise the place again. That's one of the joys of eating out in France. There's no whisking away of plates, or suggestions that you take coffee in 'the lounge'. Ninety-nine percent of restaurants don't possess a sitting area anyway. And that's something I really like. In the UK nothing would annoy me more than being 'stacked' in a restaurant bar for half an hour or so, while waiters try to chivvy on the diners occupying our booked table. Being shovelled into the same bar for coffee afterwards was even worse. In France meals are to be enjoyed, lingered over, chatted over...even at times argued over.
Whilst on this epicurean subject,I thought an A -Z to some of the more obscure items you might find on a French restaurant menu. might be useful.
PART ONE - A to J
abats : offal
agrumes : citrus fruit
aïgo bouido : Provençal garlic soup served over pieces of bread
aigre : sour
aigre-doux : sweet-and-sour
à aigrir : soured - wine or milk
ail : garlic :
gousse d'ail = clove of garlic
ail semoule : garlic salt
aïoli : a Provencal garlic mayonaise sauce,
airelle : cranberry
alevin : white bait
amuse-gueule , amuse-bouche : cocktail snack
anchoyade : Provençal purée made with anchovy, garlic and olive oil
babeurre buttermilk :
barbouillade : stuffed eggplant or eggplant stew (Provençal)
bavette (steak) : minute steak; the top or skirt of beef
beignet : doughnut : (beignet, doughnut, fritter)
betterave : beetroot
blé : wheat (useful if anyone has a wheat allergy) :
- germe de blé = wheatgerm
blé noir : buckwheat
blette: Swiss chard
bouchonné : corked = wine that's gone off, with the taste of its cork
bourride : Provençal fish soup, prepared with tomatoes, garlic, onions, herbs and olive oil, and served with aïoli sauce.
brebis : ewe as in fromage de brebis
brouillade : a Provençal type of scrambled eggs
broyé : crushed
cabillaud fesh cod ..... salt cod : morue
cacahouète : peanut
calmar : squid
câpres : capers
capucine : nasturtium
cardoon: an edible thistle, related to the artichoke, with edible root and leafstalks which resemble overgrown celery.
carvi : caraway
cassis, creme de : blackcurrant liqueur
chapelure : bread crumbs
chapon : crust rubbed with garlic
chapon : capon a young castrated and fattened chicken
chevreau de lait : milk goat (kid)
chicorée frisée : chicory lettuce
ciboule : spring onion
ciboulette : chives
citrouille : pumpkin
coco rose : small bean, white with pink veins
confit : preserved, confit de canard is duck joints cooked and preserved in its own fat
confit de [fruit] : candied, jellied or crystallized fruit.
confiture : jam
counne : rind, skin : example: "couenne de porc" is porc rind
courge : squash
crème chantilly : whipped cream
crème èpaisse : thick cream
crème fleurette : light cream : a low-fat cream used in cooking, in place of crème fraîche; also "crème liquide"
crème fraîche : cream, full-fat : used for making butter, sauces, etc.
cuire au four : bake in the oven
daube beef stew
dinde : turkey :
dindonneau: young turkey
dorade : sea-bream
doux mild or sweet
ecorce : rind
écrasé: crushed or flattened
écrevisse : crayfish, crawfish
en poudre : powder
encornet : squid
endive : chicory.
entrecôte (steak) : ribsteak
entremets : sweet desserts and sweet side dishes.
épicé : hot, spicy
épinard : spinach
à éplucher : to peel
farci : stuffed = légumes farcis
farine : flour :
farine de sarrasin :buckwheat flour
faux-filet (steak) : sirloin steak
fenouil : fennel
fève : broad bean
filet (steak) : tenderloin steak
filet mignon : small tender end of tenderloin of beef (or of veal or pork)
fondu : melted
fougasse : a type of flattened Provencal bread often stuffed with olives
four : oven
fourré : filled ,stuffed, creamed
fromage blanc : a soft white cheese like a thick yogurt
fromage de chèvre : goat cheese
fromage rapé : grated cheese
germe de blé : wheatgerm (Again useful for those with a wheat allergy)
gibier : game - pheasant, boar, etc.
gigot: : Leg of lamb or leg of mutton, or kid usually roasted
girofle clove : "clous de girofle" are whole cloves, and "girofle moulu" or "girofle en poudre" are powdered cloves. ).
gousse clove, pod : clove (of garlic); pod (of bean or pea)
goût taste : (arôme = aroma; goût = taste; parfum = flavor of ice cream;
à goûter : to taste
grenade : pomegranate
grondin : gurnard,
gros sel: rock, or coarse salt
haricot : bean
haricot blanc : white beans
haricot coco rose d'Eyragues : small white bean with pink veins
haricot rouge : kidney beans
haricot vert : green beans
Next Time : I to P