French Food Dictionary

Here are some basic words that will be helpful in reading a French menu.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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agneau (an-yo)
Lamb. The principal cuts of lamb are the carré or rack, the épaule or shoulder and the côtelette or chop.
ail (eye)
garlic
aïoli (i-yo-lee)
garlic mayonnaise
aloyau (al-wah-yo)
Sirloin of beef
anchois (awn-shwah)
anchovy
andouille (awn-dwee)
Large sausage made from chittelings, tripe, etc; usually eaten cold
andouillete (awn-dwee-yet)
Small chitterling sausage, usually fried or grilled and eaten hot
anguille (awn-gwee)
eel
artichaud (ar-tee-sho)
artichoke
asperge (as-pairzh)
asparagus

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baba (ba-ba)
sponge cake steeped either in rum or in kirsch
banane (ba-nan)
banana
bar (bar)
sea bass
basilic (ba-zee-leek)
basil
bavette (ba-vet)
cut of beef equivalent to the skirt or flank
betterave (bet-rahv)
beet
beurre (ber)
butter
biche (beesh)
Doe; a deer, a female deer
bifteck (bif-tek)
beef or beefsteak—normally an inexpensive cut of meat, most frequently made up into a namburger or pan-fried
blanc or blanche (blawn, blawnsh)
White. The word is often used to describe the white meat or breast of chicken (blanc de poulet), or a filet of fish (blanc de turbo).
boeuf (bof)
Beef; the principal cuts are:
boisson (bwah-sawn)
Drink. A beverage of any kind, whether alcoholic or not.
bonbon (bawn-bawn)
candy
bordelaise, à la (ah lah bord-lez)
In the regional style of Bordeaux, and often meaning that the dish is cooked in wine with mirepoix (diced mixed vegetables).
boudin (boo-dan)
Large sausage or meat pudding, which can be made in one of two ways:
bouilabaisse (bwee-yah-bes)
Provencal fish soup/stew made from a great variety of fishthe more the better, in a sense, but rascassse, conger and gurnard will usually be included; bouillabaisse is made all over France, however, the ingredients will vary with the locality. It is often served in two dishes, one for the fish and the other for the broth.
bouillade (bwee-yahd)
A sauce to accompany snails or fish, which is made with sweet peppers, garlic and wine.
bourgeoise, à la (ah lah boor-zhwahz)
A method of presenting braised meat, with onions, carrots and sometimes braised letuce and celery, plus diced bacon.
bourguignonne, à la (ah lah boor-geen-yon)
In the style of Burgundy: a way of casseroling meat, notably beef and chicken, in a red wine sauce with onions, mushrooms and bacon.
bourride (boo-reed)
Fish stew served with aïoli and accompanied by bread or toast: similar, but not identical to, bouillabaisse.
brandade (brawn-dahd)
Method of preparing morue (salt cod) by pounding it with oil, milk and garlic until it becomes creamy.
brasserie (bras-ree)
Café-restaurant with an extensive à la carte menu, and frequently a fixed-price menu too, which keeps café hours and can usually provide meals from 7 or 8 am until early morning.
brebis ( bray-bee)
Ewe sheep
brioche (bree-yosh)
A bun or small cake made form a rich yeast dough incorporating butter and eggs; they come in various shapes and sizes, and some have cream fillings.
brochet (bro-shay)
fresh water pike
brochette (bro-shet)
A grilling skewer; anything grilled on a skewer
brouillé (brwee-yay)
Scrambled or mixed

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cabillaud (ka-bee-yo)
Fresh cod
cacahouette (ka-ka-wet)
peanuts
caille (kah-ee)
Quail
calamar (ka-la-mar)
squid
campagnard or campagne (kawn-pan-yar, or kawn-pan-yo)
Country-style, rustic; in general, this means that the dish or garnish is simple and unsophisticated.  It often refers ot rough-cut pâtés, often containing mushrooms, herbs and pepper.
canard (ka-nar)
Duck
caneton (kan_tawn)
Duckling
canette (ka-net)
Female duckling
capres (kah-pre)
Capers
carré (ka-ray)
Rack of lamb
cassoulet (ka-soo-lay)
Stew from southwest France featuring white haricot beans, pork and sausages and including preserved goose or duck.
céleri (say-lo-ree)
Celery
cèpe (sep)
Cep or boletus mushroom, also known as bolet; very fleshy, with a strong flavour sometimes described as "nutty."
cerf (sair)
Stag; deer
cerfeuil (sair-foy)
Chervil
cervelas (sair-vo-lah)
A mildly garlicky smoked port sausage which is served sliced, either hot or cold, as an hors d'oeuvre.
champagne (shawn-pan-yo)
Champagne
champenoise, à la (ah lah shawn-pon-wahz)
In the style of Champagne
chanterelle (shawn-trel)
Orange/yellow mushroom also known as girolle, which looks like an umbrella blown inside out.
chantilly (shawn-tee-yee)
Cream whipped with sugar and vanilla
charbon de bois, au (o shar-bawn de bwah)
Charcoal-grilled
charcuterie (shar-koo-tree)
The preparation and serving of cold meats, usually pork but also including dishes made from other meats
charlotte (shar-lot)
One of two types of desserts: the first is a baked fruit pudding in a breadlined mould, which is generally served hot; the other is a sponge lining containing a cream filling.
charollais (sha-ro-lay)
Premium beef cattle from Burgundy.
châtaigne (sha-tan-yo)
Chestnut, better known as marron.
chèvre (shev-ro)
Goat; also short for goat's milk cheese
chevreuil (she-vroy)
Venison
chou (shoo)
Cabbage
choucroute (shoo-kroot)
Sauerkraut
chou-fleur (shoo-flor)
Cauliflower
ciboulette (see-boo-let)
chives
citron (see-trawn)
Lemon
civet (see-vay)
Stew or ragoût, usually of game with mushrooms, onions and bacon in red wine
cochon (ko-shawn)
Pig
cochonnaille (ko-sho-neye)
Anything made from pork.
conconbre (kawn-kawn-bro)
Cucumber
confit (kawn-fee)
preserved
consommé (kawn-so-may)
General term for many different clear soups or broths, each made from an enriched, concentrated stock of mea, poulty or game and usually containing added ingredients such as pasta, vegetables, herbs, etc.
coq (kok)
Cock or cockerel; also used more generally for chicken
coquillages (ko-kee-yahzh)
Shellfish
coquille Saint-Jacques (ko-kee san zhak)
Scallops
côte (kot)
Chop of meat; also, rib of beef
coulis (koo-lee)
A thick sauce or purée
courgette (koor-zhet)
Zucchini
crème (krem)
Cream
crèpe (krep)
Large, thin wheat-flour pancake,either sweet of savoury
cresson (kres-sawn)
Watercress
crevette (kro-vet)
Shrimp
croissant (kraw-sawn)
Cresent-shaped breakfat roll made from yeast dough, deliciously light and crispy when fresh
croque-madame (krok madam)
Sandwich of toasted cheese and fried egg.
croque-monsieur (krok mo-syor)
Toasted ham and cheese sandwich.
croustillant (kroos-tee-yawn)
Crunchy, crisp or crusty
cru (kroo)
raw
crudités (kroo-dee-tay)
Selection of raw, in-season vegetables offered as a starting course, often with cold sauces and dips.
crustacé (kroo-sta-say)
Crustacean or shellfish
cuisse (kwees)
thigh
cuisson (kwee-sawn)
Cooking, or cooking time
cuit (kwee)
cooked

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darne (darn)
Thick slice or steak of a large fish.
daube (dob)
Method of cooking meat, fowl or game by braising it slowly in wine and meat stock with vegetables and herbs.
daurade (do-rahd)
Sea bream
demi-bouteille (do-mee boo-tay)
Half-bottle (of wine) (37.5 centiliters)
désossé (day-zo-say)
Boned
digestif (dee-zhes-teef)
A drink served after dinner such as cognac.
dinde (dand)
Turket
dorée (do-ray)
Golden browned
douce or doux (doos, doo)
Sweet, mild
dur (door)

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eau (o)
water
écaillé (aye-ki-yaye)
Scaled (fish)
échalote (aye-sha-lot)
Shallot
écrevuse (aye-kro-vees)
Crayfish
emmenthal (a-mawn-tal)
"Swiss cheese"
encornet (awn-kor-nay)
Another name for squid
entrecôte (awn-tro-kot)
Rib or sirloin steak, normally cut fairly thin and either fried or grilled.
entrée (awn-tray)
The course preceeding the main course.
épaule (aye-pol)
Shoulder of lamb, pork or veal
épice (aye-pees)
Spice
épinards (aye-pee-nahr)
spinach
escalope (es-ka-lop)
A slice of meat flattened out and lightly fried in butter or fat
escargot (es-kar-go)
Snail
espadon (es-pa-dawn)
Swordfish
estragon (es-tra-gawn)
Tarragon
étouffé (aye-to faye)
stuffed

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farci (far-see)
stuffed
fenouil (f0n-wee)
fennel
feu (fo)
Fire (feu de bois—wood fire)
figue (feeg)
Fig
fines herbes (feenz airb)
Mixture of finely chopped herbs—usually parsley, tarragon, chervil and chives
fix (feeks)
Fixed: a menu term referring to a fixed-price menu
flageolet (fla-zhyo-laye)
A small, tender haricot white bean, often served with lamb
foie (fwah)
Liver of an animal or bird
fondu (fawn-doo)
Melted
fondue au fromage (fawn-doo o fro-mahzh)
A simmering mixture of melted cheese, white wine and kirsch into which are dipped cubes of bread on skewers
fondue bourguignonne (fawn-doo boor-geen-yon)
Cubes of steak cooked on forks in hot oil, then eaten with various sauces
four (foor)
Oven
fraise (frez)
Strawberry
framboise (frawn-bwahz)
Raspberry
fricassée (free-ka-say)
A light stew usually consisting of white meat or poultry served in a creamy white sauce
frisée (free-zay)
The salad green known as chicory in the United States
frites (freet)
Short for pomme frites, i.e., French fries
fromage (fro-mahzh)
cheese
fruit (frwee)
fruit
fruits de mer (frwee do mair)
Seafood in general
fumée (foo-may)
Smoked or cured

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gamba (gawn-bah)
Large prawn
gâteau (ga-to)
Cake
gelée
jelly, aspic
gibier (zheeb-yay)
game
gigot (zhee-go)
Leg; hind leg, normally of lamb or mutton.
gingembre (zhan-zhawn-bro)
Ginger
glace (glas)
ice
glaçon (gla-sawn)
ice cube
graisse (gres)
Grease, fat
  gratin (gra-tan)
Any dish which is browned in the oven to form a top crust.
gratinée (gra-tee-nay)
Cooked au gratin
grenouille (gron-wee-yo)
Frog
gribiche, sauce (sos gree-beesh)
Sauch for fish, compposed of hard-boiled egg-yolks, pounded with oil and vinegar plus chopped cappers, herbs, gherkins and strips of egg-white.
grillade (gree-yod)
Grilling; food which has been grilled.
grillée (gree-yay)
Grilled
gruyère (groo-yair)
Swiss cheese

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haché (a-shay)
Chopped, minced or ground
hareng (a-rawn)
Herring
haricot (a-ree-ko)
Bean
homard (o-mar)
Lobster
hors d'œuvre (or-dov-ro)
Common term for the first course. It may also refer to a selection of hot or cold appetizers served with drinks before the first course, and to an array of various salads, cold meat dishes and smoked or marinated fish from which you can make your own selection as a first course.
hôte (ot)
Host
huile (weel)
Oil
huitre (wee-tro)
Oyster

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île flottane (eel flo-tawnt)
"Floating island": a dessert of whipped poached egg whites floating in vanilla custard and topped with almonds.
infusion (an-foo-zyawn)
Herb and other "natural" teas which are prepared by steeping the ingredient in question in boiling water to extract its essence.

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jambon (zhawn-bon)
Ham
jeaune d'œuf (zhon-dof)
Egg-yolk
jarret (zha-ray)
Shank or knuckle of veal, beef, or lamb
joue (zhoo)
Cheek or jowl
jus (zhoo)
juice

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kebab (ka-bab)
General term for meat cooked on a skewer
kir (keer)
Aperitif of dry white wine mixed with crème de casis

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lait (lay)
milk
laitue (lay-two)
lettuce
lamproie (lawn-prwah)
Lamprey eel
landaise, à la (ah lah lawn-dez)
In the style of the Landes region in Western France, where geese are abundant; generally, à la landaise means that the dish is cooked in goose fat,with garlic, onions, and ham.
langouste (lawn-goost)
Spiny lobster; crawfish, or similiar to a lobster but without claws.
langue (lawng)
Tongue
lapereau (lap-ro)
Young rabbit
lapin (la-pan)
rabbit
lard (lahr)
Pork fat; larding bacon
lardons (lahr-dawn)
Diced, fried pieces of bacon
laurier (lo-ryay)
Bay
légumes (lay-goom)
vegetables
lentilles (lawn-tee)
Lentils
liève (lyev-ro)
Hare
limande (lee-mawnd)
a flatfish similiar to sole
lotte (lot)
Monkfish; an ugly but highly-regarded sea fish
loup (loo)
Wolf: the French don't normally eat wolves, but use loup figuratively as a name for sea bass (bar)

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macédoine (ma-sa-dwahn)
General term for a mixture of vegetables (raw or cooked), or of fruit
magret de canard (ma-gray- de kan-ar)
Breast of duck, which is either grilled or fried and often served fairly rare

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nature or au naturel (na-ture, oh na-tur-al)
Natural, plain, ungarnished, unseasoned or unmixed
navet (na-vay)
Turnip
 

 

 

 

 

 

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