Vive la Cuisine — Word(s) of Wisdom

French is often referred to as the language of love, but to me, it should actually be considered the language of food. We have absorbed many food-related French words into English, but we rarely stop to consider their origins or original meanings.

French chefs have long held an exalted place in the cooking hierarchy, so it should be no surprise that the word chef itself is French, meaning head or principal. Cuisine, too, is a word we use regularly, not thinking about its French translation: cooking.

Walk into any restaurant and order an hors d’oeuvre (appetizer or digression; literally, outside the production): French. Choose your entrée (entry or first course): French. Discuss the wine choices with the sommelier: again, French. When you clear your palate between courses with an amuse bouche (to amuse/divert the mouth) and select your dessert: both French.

And what about the le dessert itself? Napoleons, those multi-layered, rich pastries are named for napoleonthe infamous French emperor, and writer Marcel Proust made the madeleine famous. And who can resist  an éclair or a tarte?

It was Shakespeare who said, “If music be the food of love, play on,” but I say, “If French is the language of food, enjoy!”


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