by Nancy McKeown-Conn
Without a doubt, sitting in a café or restaurant, lingering over a cup of coffee after a delicious French meal is one of the pleasures of living in France. But, if you’ve ordered daube thinking you were getting fish and were served a rich beef stew instead, you might be somewhat disappointed in your dining experience.
People seem to learn restaurant French pretty quickly, but some ingredients and preparations remain elusive. For instance, while you might want to avoid eating horsemeat (cheval), you might actually enjoy a hamburger à cheval (served with a fried egg on top). Caouanne is turtle, but so is tortue. On the other hand, tourteau is a large crab but tourteau fromage is a kind of cheesecake. You probably already know to order your steak à point (medium/medium rare), but fruit and cheese may also be à point, that is, perfectly ripe. Riz is rice, veau is veal and ris de veau are sweetbreads – be careful. Of course you know that escargots are snails, but so are bulots, cagouilles and petit-gris. Pâte is pastry dough or batter, which is not to be confused with pâtes (pasta), which is certainly not pâté, which is, well, pâté.
You’ll see many dishes prepared à la something, which means in the manner or style of someplace or someone. Here are some definitions.
|If it says à la (in the manner of):||The translation is:||It means:|
|Lyonnaise||Lyons||Served with onions|
|Meunière||“in the manner of the Miller’s wife”||Usually refers to fish dusted in flour, sautéed in butter and served with browned butter, lemon juice and parsley.|
|Grand-mère||Grandmother style||Prepared with onions, mushrooms, potatoes and bacon|
|Florentine||Florence||Served with spinach and mornay sauce|
|Diable||Devil’s style||Dishes served or prepared with a sauce of mustard, vinegar and/or other pepper flavorings|
|Dijonnaise||Dijon||Served with a mustard sauce|
|Bourguignonne||Burgundy||Prepared with red wine, mushrooms, bacon and small onions|
|Bretonne||Brittany||Can be a sauce of white wine, carrots, leeks and celery or a dish served with white beans|
|Bordelaise||Bordeaux||Prepared or served with a brown sauce of red or white wine, shallots and bone marrow|
|Arlésienne||Arles||Prepared with tomatoes, onions, eggplant, potatoes, rice and sometimes olives|
|Anglaise||English style||Prepared with little embellishment – can also refer to food dipped in bread crumbs and fried|
|Ancienne||Old style||Most often used to describe braised beef and fricassees|
|Milanaise||Milan||Describes food that is dipped in egg, then a mixture of bread crumbs and cheese and then fried|
|Provençale||Provence||Prepared or served with tomatoes, garlic and sometimes olives, eggplant and anchovies|
|Parisienne||Paris||Usually, fish or chicken garnished with mushrooms, asparagus, truffles and a white wine sauce|
|Alsacienne||Alsace||Usually garnished with sausage and sauerkraut|
|Américaine||America||White wine sauce usually with brandy, shallots, tomatoes and garlic|