Transfer Post: French Lessons

For Friday’s test, I have begun making flash cards.  How many French cooking terms do you know?

Boulanger – owned the first restaurant, the first dish served was sheep’s feet in white sauce.  It was supposed to be a restorative.

Chefs de partie  – line chefs.  insignificant underlings who do all the work and get none of the credit.

Sous-chef – second in command, the sous-chef is often the aboyeur as well, the expediter.

Chef de cuisine – this is The Chef

Bartolmeo Platina-  author of the first printed cookbook.

Amelia Simmons- author of the first American cookbook American Cookery

Taillevent – early French cookbook author, Taillevent was chef to Charles the Second

Charles Ranhofer – wrote the Epicurean and was head chef at Delmonico’s in London

Gaston Lenotre – master pastry chef, Lenotre is considered the father of modern French pastry.  He also began the first recorded culinary school.

fusion cuisine – the combination of foods, flavors, and techniques from multiple ethnicities and regional cultures.

Boscue, Point, Waters, Tower, & Prudhomme – prominent figures in the Americanization of nouvelle cuisine, also known as New American cuisine

nouvelle cuisine – cuisine focusing on simplicity, fresh ingredients, heathiness and quality

Careme – master of grande or haute cuisine, he favored the elaborate and claimed cooking was a form of architecture.  He made one of the first systems for classifying sauces.

Escoffier – father of cusine classique, Escoffier simplified Careme’s system of sauces into five main groups.  He is credited with the creation of the kitchen brigade.

cuisine classique – a cuisine simpler than grande cuisine and more elaborate than nouvelle cuisine

grand cuisine – the type of food served at the French court, before the revolution.  Typified by its elaborate multiple courses.  Also known as haute cuisine.

Alexis Soyer – one of the first chef’s known for his charitable efforts, Soyer was credited with many kitchen innovations, including ovens with adjustable temperatures and portable stoves.

Ferdinand Point – opened a restaurant called L’pyramid, in France.  Point was a master of grande cuisine, but is considered the father of nouvelle cuisine.  He was one of the first chefs to leave the kitchen to converse with customers at their tables.

Well, I seem to have done fairly well with those cards.  Now I shall attempt to describe the kitchen brigade.

The head of the kitchen brigade is the Chef de Cuisine, or merely Chef.  Directly under the chef is the Sous-chef.  Under the Sous-chef there are the chefs de partie.  At times the patissier is directly under the chef, at other times, he reports to the sous-chef.   Line chefs include the saucier, in charge of soups and sauces, the entremetier, in charge of vegetables, the rotisseur, in charge of roasting and often frying and grilling as well.  The poissonier is in charge of fish.   Wonder why he’s called the poissonier…  The garde-manger controls the pantry, the tournant floats to any station he is needed at.  The commis is the apprentice.  The patissier is the favorite chef of anyone with a sweet tooth.  Also known as the pastry chef, the pastissier can be in charge of all baked goods, or can be head of another department, in which the line chefs are the boulanger: the baker, the gacier: ice cream and custard man, the confiseur: candy and petit fours and the decorateur: showpieces and special cakes.

The dining room brigade is another story.  In charge here is the maitre d’hotel.  Working underneath him, but in his own little world is the chef de vin: the wine chef or sommelier.  The chef de salle is like a host or hostess, in charge of the entire room in smaller operations or, in large restaurants, part of the room.  The chef d’etage is also known as a captain.  He must explain the menu to customers and take their orders.  If any food is prepared tableside, the chef d’etage does this.  The chef de rang is the tablesetter, in charge of food delivery and takes care of any guest needs.  The demi-chef de rang is the busboy.  They’re one group that must prefer the French name.  I know I would rather say ‘I work as a demi-chef de rang’, than, ‘I clear tables and wash dishes’.

We have reached the most important piece of a chef’s equipment.  The knife.  There are ten main parts.

1. The handle – fairly self-explanatory

2. The butt – the end of the handle

3. The heel – the end of the blade, by the handle

4. The point – the end of the blade, away from the handle

5. The tip – like the point, but the term covers a slightly larger area

6. The cutting edge – the sharp bit

7. The spine – opposite the cutting edge

8. The tang – the metal that runs the length of the knife, including to the end of the handle.

9. The rivets – they hold the handle to the tang

10.  Just a second, I’ll remember.  The bolster – after the cutting edge of the knife runs out and the metal curves up to the handle, there is a thicker block of metal.  It is not sharp and it supports the knife.  Thus, it is the bolster.

Now, there are many interesting and fun things you can do with knives.  Most of them have French names.

First, the julienne.  A julienne is a stick 1/8″ x 1/8″ x 2″.  A batonne, the next size up is a stick 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 2″.  This is also referred to as the ‘french fry cut’. Brunoise are cubes 1/8″ x 1/8″ by 1/8″.  If you want a fine Brunoise, make them 1/16″ x 1/16″ x 1/16″.  The dice aren’t French and they are basic.  Small dice are 1/4″ sides, medium dice have 1/2″ sides and large dice 3/4″ sides.   Paysanne are 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1/8″ and can apparently be square, round, flat or triangular.  The tourner is the most difficult cut.  You are supposed to make a football shape, 2″ long with seven equal sides. It should be 3/4″ to 1″ thick.  Try it and let me know how it goes.  Rondelles is how you would cut your carrots for stew, just lots of rounds.  Diagonals are rondelles cut at a diagonal.  Obliques are cute and fun to cut.  They end up being rather triangular.  The cut is used on carrots and parsnips.  You cut at a 45 degree angle, then at a 45 degree angle opposite the first.  Like making a zig-zag down the carrot.  Lozenges are flat diamonds.

The only other things I have to study for Friday’s test are the point to cool food to in an ice bath before refrigerating it, (70 degrees), and types of menu.  Typically, all the types of menu have French names, excepting the California menu.  A California menu is a menu serving all meals around the clock.  A la carte menus, you can order each food item separately and they are all priced separately.  Semi a la carte, most things are priced and purchased separately, but some are combined.  Table d’hote, your entire meal is planned out and served as a package.  A banquet menu resembles a table d’hote style meal.  This type of menu would be used at gatherings such as a wedding.  None of the guests has a say in which food they want at each course.   As for actual menu types, a static menu serves the same meals without change, a cycle menu works its way through sets of meals, sometimes taking as little as a week, sometimes a few months, sometimes longer.  A market menu changes with the seasons and produce available.  This type of menu can end up chaging every day.  A hybrid menu is a combination of static and cycle or market menus.

I only hope I can remember all of this test day.

Now I have to go over them with my landlady for pratice.


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