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17 Words You Need to Know When Dining in a French Restaurant

These ubiquitous terms show up on many bistro and fancy French restaurant menus. Now you are prepared. Bon appetit! (Which literally translates as “good appetite”).

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1. À la carte: Bill of fare from which the diner selects individual dishes; also, means dishes cooked to order.

2. à la: In the style of; for example, à la russe, which means ‘in the Russian style’.

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3. Amandine: Cooking or coating with almonds.

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4. Cassoulet: Stew of mixed meats and goose or duck with haricot verts (green beans) and French sausage. Topped with browned crust of breadcrumbs.

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5. Crème fraîche: Cream that is cultured to give it a light tang.

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6. Croquettes: Small cylindrical or wedge-shaped patties coated in egg and crumbs, and deep-fried. The mixture inside is traditionally a thick sauce with fish, chicken or meat added, chilled until set and shaped. Creamed vegetables may also be shaped into croquettes.

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7. En croûte: Food encased in pastry.

8. En papillote: Food wrapped, cooked, and often served in greased paper or foil.

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9. Fines herbes: Mixture of finely chopped fresh parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives.

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10. Foie gras: The liver of a specially fattened goose or duck.

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11. Moules: Mussels.

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12. Marinière 1. Of mussels; cooked in white wine and herbs, and served in half shells. 2. Of fish; cooked in white wine and garnished with mussels.

13. Meunière In the style of a miller’s wife; fish cooked in butter, seasoned, and sprinkled with parsley and lemon juice. As in a classic sole meunière.

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14. Petits fours Miniature cakes, biscuits, and sweet items served at the end of a meal, including tiny iced sponge cakes, grapes and cherries coated in sugar, and marzipan colored and shaped to resemble miniature fruits.

15. Petits pois: Tiny green peas

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16. Velouté: Basic white sauce made with chicken, veal or fish stock; also: soup of creamy consistency.

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17. Vol-au-vent: Light case of puff pastry.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest