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Witty, Wacky, and Just Plain Weird Food Cooking Terms

Updated on February 10, 2019

There is one thing that all of us have in common--regardless of where we were born, where we live, our beliefs and income, our occupations and hobbies.

We eat.

And in eating we are exposed at times to various cooking terms and expressions. There is a universality in cooking. Cooking (the application of heat, tools, or implements to facilitate the preparation of food) happens in all corners of the world, in all cultures, climates, and societal backgrounds. And because of that universality, the lexicon of cooking contains a wealth of terms and expressions from countless languages.

Compiling all of them would fill a very large (and perhaps very boring) book. But let's take a moment to look at a short list of the terms that are a bit odd, a little quirky, somewhat different, or just plain funny.

Accolade.—According to my Funk and Wagnalls this is an award, an honor. But en accolade is when one presents two foods on a plate leaning against each other. (You probably won’t see this at McDonalds).

en accolade of sandwich
en accolade of sandwich | Source

Affriter.—We are not referring to one fritter (as opposed to two or more). Affriter is a French term in which you season a pan by rubbing it with salt, or heating a bit of oil in the pan and then drying it with a cloth.

Agar-Agar.—In Washington we have a joke about a major cit y in the southeast corner of the state. “Walla Walla—they loved it so much they named it twice.” Agar-agar is a seaweed extract used to thicken soups, ice creams, and sauces. It dissolves in water and works with low heat.

Emeril Shakespeare
Emeril Shakespeare

Bammy.—Not a tiny exclamation from Emeril Lagasse—bammy is a pancake-shaped deep fried bread of the Arawak Indians (indigenous people of South America and the Caribbean.

Bard.—English Literature majors know that this is William Shakespeare; it is also the term for wrapping meat with bacon.

Barquettes.—Briquettes are used for charcoal grilling. Barquettes are small tarts of puff pastry, boat shaped, blind-baked until crisp, and then lined with sweet or savory fillings.

Blind bake.—You were wondering, weren’t you? Blind baking is to bake a pie crust without a filling. Dried beans or metal weights are used to keep the pastry from puffing up and/or shrinking.

deviled eggs
deviled eggs | Source

Devil.—Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Prince of Darkness. Also, combining foods with hot or spicy seasonings such as mustard or pepper to create a “deviled” dish. Deviled eggs anyone?

Farce.—The dictionary definition is “a light, humorous play in which the plot depends upon a skillfully exploited situation rather than upon the development of character.” Or, in French it is forcemeat or stuffing. (Still puzzled? Keep reading).

Finnan Haddie.— Scottish for smoked haddock. Literally “haddock of Findhorn.”

Forcemeat.—Remember the definition above for farce? Farce is forcemeat, and forcemeat is ground meat mixed with seasonings and used for stuffing.

It's cold!!!
It's cold!!!

Froid.—Sigmund Freud was a doctor of medicine at the University of Vienna. He is known as the father of psychoanalysis. Froid (same pronunciation, different spelling) is French for “cold.”

Galangal.—Any guesses? Galangal is a root (actually a rhizome), that looks like fresh ginger root. It is sometimes called Java root or Siamese ginger. The flavor is not as hot or biting as ginger; it is more citrus-like. It is always cooked (never eaten raw).

Halbtrocken.-- Literally means half dry in German. Used to describe German wines.

Liaison.—French for “communication and contact between groups or units.” Or (much more fun), the process of thickening sauces and soups with egg yolks or cream.

Mache | Source

Mache.—Not paper mache. Sounds like “mosh” (as in mosh pit). More commonly known as lamb’s lettuce, corn salad, or field salad. Mache has small dark green leaves. Makes a nice garnish.

Mistika.—No, not a misspelling of the word “mistake”. Mistika is more commonly known as gum Arabic. It is the hardened, dried, and then powdered sap of the acacia tree. Gum Arabic is used as a thickener in the manufacture of candies and chewing gum.. But wait, there’s more! It’s also used in the manufacture of paint, in photography, printmaking, fireworks, and (oh joy) it was once used in embalming in Ancient Egypt.

“I’ll have an order of gum drops, and hold the mistika please.”

Riddling.—A puzzling question or problem. But, more importantly, a step in removing sediment from Champagne. Bottles are placed in racks and then turned by hand or machine over weeks or months until they are upside down and the sediment has settled on top of the corks.

Salamander (the cute one)
Salamander (the cute one) | Source

Salamander.—Looks a little like the Geico Gecko, doesn’t he? Salamanders are tailed amphibians (cold-blooded animals that live on land but also breath with gills under water) that live in North America, Asia, Europe, North Africa, and northern South America. Or, a small broiler used to brown foods.

Spatchcocking.—It sounds a little dirty, doesn’t it? No, don’t get your hopes up for this Hub. Spatchcocking is a French term for butterflying a whole chicken. Butterflying is removing the backbone so that you can open and flatten the chicken much like opening a book. This allows one to roast the chicken more quickly, over hotter coals. Grilling time is cut in half, the meat stays moist, and the skin is super crispy.

Treacle.—Last, but not least. Treacle is a term used mostly in Great Britain. When sugar is refined there is a by-product (much like molasses).

Had You Heard of Any of These Terms Before Reading this Hub?

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© 2015 Linda Lum


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