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How to Read a French Menu

Food preparation, tastes, portions, ingredients, appearance

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French feast
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Reading the menu in a French restaurant can be a little tricky, and not just due to language difficulties. There may be important differences between restaurants in France and in your own country, including what food is offered and how it is prepared. Here are some food terms to help you find your way around a French menu.


French food vocabulary

Understanding basic French vocabulary related to food is the obvious first step - there are dozens of common food terms and related vocabulary with sound files here: French food vocabulary


Food preparation
  • affiné - aged
  • artisanal - homemade, traditionally made
  • à la broche - cooked on a skewer
  • à la vapeur - steamed
  • à l'etouffée - stewed
  • au four - baked
  • biologique, bio - organic
  • bouilli - boiled
  • brûlé - burnt
  • coupé en dés - diced
  • coupé en tranches / rondelles - sliced
  • en croûte - in a crust
  • en daube - in stew, casserole
  • en gelée - in aspic/gelatin
  • farci - stuffed
  • fondu - melted
  • frit - fried
  • fumé - smoked
  • glacé - frozen, icy, glazed
  • grillé - grilled
  • haché - minced, ground (meat)
  • maison - homemade, in-house, chef's own
  • poêlé - pan-fried
  • relevé - highly seasoned, spicy
  • séché - dried
  • truffé - with truffles
  • truffé de ___ - dotted/speckled with ___

Tastes
  • aigre - sour
  • amer - bitter
  • piquant - spicy
  • salé - salty, savory
  • sucré - sweet(ened)

Portions, ingredients, and appearance
  • aiguillettes - long, thin slices (of meat)
  • aile - wing, white meat
  • aromates - seasoning
  • ___ à volonté (e.g., frites à volonté) - all-you-can-eat ___ (e.g., all-you-can-eat fries/chips)
  • la choucroute - sauerkraut
  • crudités - raw vegetables
  • cuisse - thigh, dark meat
  • émincé - thin slice (of meat)
  • fines herbes - sweet herbs
  • un méli-mélo - assortment
  • un morceau - piece
  • au pistou - with basil pesto
  • une poêlée de ___ - assorted fried ___
  • la purée - mashed potatoes
  • une rondelle - slice (of fruit, vegetable, sausage)
  • une tranche - slice (of bread, cake, meat)
  • une truffe - truffle (very expensive and rare fungus)

Page 1: Menus, courses, special terms

Page 2: Food preparation, tastes, portions, ingredients, appearance

Page 3: Typical French and regional dishes, unusual foods
Related Video
French Dialogues: Eating Out
French Dialogues: Travel, Hotels, and Accommodations
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