Speak Up

Monday, August 16, 2010

Word Play

Can I pass you the what?
You need the huh?
This was made how?
I have to what with this thing-a-ma-jig?

Not a week goes by when I don't look at my chef with a perplexed and dazed expression and ask "what did you just say"? I may have married a chef but that certainly does not make me one by proxy. I am still clueless, even after years together.

Don't get me wrong though, I have learned some tricks. I have a best friend who shares her knowledge freely, her name is "Google". And then there is the bible, LaRousse Gastronomique. This giant encyclopedia contains words that even the chef doesn't know. It also comes in handy when you can't figure out how to spell the word for a google search.

To ease the learning curve for anyone with a chef in their life, I have noted some of my favorite translations below:

Bain Marie = A water bath for keeping cooked food or dishes warm or without allowing them to continue cooking. OR fancy term for a metal container.

Mirepoix = a culinary preparation of diced vegetables. Uh, OR you could just call it a mixture of carrot, onion and celery.

Roux = a cooked mixture of equal amounts of flour and butter used to thicken sauces. I like to think of it as the awesome mix that makes awesome mixes more awesome.

What words stumped you? Which ones would you share?
Let's start the chef wife dictionary!
Take that Chef Smarty Pants.....



DCW Jes said...

Bain Marie, also used when cooking something that cannot be cooked directly on the stove. Its a pot of simmering (not boiling) water with a heat safe bowl over it with the product (when I use it, its usually chocolate or a mousse). Just another use for it. I am in culinary school so I understand a bit more.
I still had no idea what the difference between a "jelly roll pan" and a "quarter sheet pan". This was something that came out in school and I asked the chef, really, there isn't a difference. (also came up when I was registering)

Anonymous said...

Mise en place - when I first met the chef years ago, he kept saying that he needs to go and get his "Mise en place" done. I kept nodding without really understanding, to me it sounded like "Miso plus". I was wondering why a French restaurant would go through so much Miso soup, and what the "Plus" bit might be ... :-)

B from Germany

ch said...

Ah yes, love it when my chef speaks culinary to me:) Like, a la minute-cooked to order and beurre blanc-white wine butter sauce.
Hope you're having a good week!

Hilary Battes said...

sous vide- cooking proteins in a "water bath" at a low temperature in a vacuum bag

reduce- I actually have no idea HOW to reduce a sauce but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with making it thicker..??

P&L statement- profit and loss

OS&E - again, not entirely sure, but I think it has to do with things restaurants order and set up when they are being built...I'm sure Erik told me at one point

I guess I haven't been paying attention as closely as I used to.

Annie said...


The football shape scoop for desserts. I could never spell it and I realized a few weeks ago I've been saying it wrong all this time! I pronounced it like "canal"...yikes...

Graciela Karas said...

Oh My God... I just can't stop laughing. You ARE all so right. I'm writing to you from Buenos Aires, Argentina (that's South America). Hubby is an Argentine chef, who uses a great deal of slang along with A LOT of French words. So when he's talking business.. it's hard for me to follow. I'm an English-Spanish Translator, so whenever he asks me to do just that.. translate... I bump into a huge obstacle: the ample use of French in his vocabulary. But it's all part of our everyday life.