Foodie Lingo!

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Pretentious: attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc, than is actually possessed.

One of my pet peeves is a very pretentious dinner menu.. Pretentious meaning a chef will take 2 sentences to describe shrimp cocktail or something... Here is an example of an extremely pretentious menu item: "Cannon of English Lamb stuffed with Wild Woodland Mushrooms and Truffles, imprisoned in a pastry cage with a Sauce of Wild Rowan Berries and a Plume of French Bar-le-Duc
Black Potatoes from the Ardennes
Bundles of Vegetables gathered fresh from the garden"

OH MAN!!!! AKA. LAMB WITH POTATOES AND VEGGIES... 

Although there are entire websites dedicated to food definitions I thought I would shed some light on the most commonly asked questions I get on menus by fellow diners:

Here are some general foodie terms to help you decipher fancier menus:

  1. Abalone: A mollusk which must be pounded to tenderize before cooking
  2. Apértif: this is an alcoholic drink that is usually served to stimulate the appetite before a meal, contrasting with digestifs, which are served after meals.
  3. Agnolotti: Traditionally square in shape, this pasta is very similar to ravioli. The difference is agnolotti contains meat and ravioli is without meat.
  4. Aioli:  is a sauce made of garlic & olive oil. Normally egg is added and there are MANY variations such the addition of mustard. Aioli is traditionally served with seafood but in recent years aioli is a great dip for fries!
  5. Al Dente:  Cooking your pasta or vegetables to "al dente" means to cook until tender but firm to bite
  6. Amuse bouche: is a single, bite-sized appetizer which are served to excite the palette and get you excited for what is to come... make your hungrier for your meal 
  7. Antipasto: means "before the meal" and is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal and you will often see it in the appetizer section at Italian restaurants OR an assortment of Mediterranean marinated vegetables with Italian cold cuts.
  8. Bisque:  smooth, creamy, highly-seasoned soup of French origin, classically based on a strained broth of seafood. It can be made from lobster, crab, shrimp or crayfish.
  9. Boar:  a species of pig that has a gamier and more robust flavor
  10. Bocconcini:are small, semi-soft, white and rindless mild cheeses... I like to refer to these as "baby mozzarella's"
  11. Braised:  combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat, typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid.
  12. Cassoulet: rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole
  13. Ceviche: citrus-marinated seafood. 
  14. Charcuterie:  Very trendy as of late; charcuterie means the processed meat of any animal including beef, veal, lamb, poultry etc. You can order a "charcuterie platter or selection" and choose a variety of cured meats which will normally also be served with cheese, crackers and different compotes.
  15. Confit: Pronounced "con-fee" is a generic term for various kinds of food that has been immersed in a substance for both flavor & preservation. The most common is duck confit and this is prepared by taking the legs from the bird which are then seasoned & slowly cooked in its own rendered fat.
  16. Compote: Fancy word for jam... or the technical definition is whole fruits which are immersed in water and with sugar and spices added to the dish over gentle heat.
  17. Demi-glace: is a rich brown sauce used in French cuisine by itself or a base for other sauces
  18. Flambé: Pour small quantities of hot liquid containing alcohol over food and then set alight.
  19. Foie Gras: food product made of the liver of a duck or goose that has been specially fattened. 
  20. Frutti di Mare: Fruit of the sea aka. seafood! in Italian
  21. Garganelli Pasta: Very similar to penne
  22. Gorgonzola: is a veined Italian blue cheese made from cow's or goat's milk. Milder than the usual "blue cheese" I normally suggest this for people who do not normally like blue or goat's cheese.
  23. Gnocchi:  Pronounced "N'yo-kee" are generally eaten as entrees and are potato pasta or potato dumplings. Classic accompaniments include tomato sauces, pesto and melted butter with cheese.
  24. Insalata: Italian for salad
  25. Panko: Very popular as of late; panko is a flaky bread crumb used in Japanese cuisine that works as a crunchy coating for fried foods... even chicken is great with panko rather than bread crumbs!
  26. Pesto: Many people think that pesto is the basil form that you often see.. Pesto is in fact a sauce originating in northern Italy and is a generic term for anything which is made by pounding. Traditional pesto consists of basil leaves, pine nuts and olive oil but can vary to many different flavors.
  27. Pomme Frites: French Fries! Pomme Frites is the Euro way of saying it. 
  28. Scampi: Smaller species of lobster about the size of jumbo prawns
  29. Sorbet: Often used as a palette cleanser between courses, sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with fruit, wine and/or liqueur.
  30. Tempura: Popular Japanese dish for seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried. 
  31. Zuppe: Italian for soup

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