25 Culinary Terms Every Food Needs To Know

Food takes a whole new personality and becomes delicious when you add a dash of sassy to it. You will understand this emotion if you are a food word nerd. Many words give food a cognac –kissed suavity and is now inspiring a generation to zing up their cuisine outings.

Thanks to reality shows, travel programs and competitions revolving around food, everyone’s a fine dining connoisseur. If you ever wondered what Matt Preston meant when he decants wine from a cuvée to complement the spaghetti Bolognese cooked Al Dente, garnished with herbes de Provence served with an  insalata of julienned vegetables, or you just want to show off to your friends, of here’s a list of  appetite whetting words that are fast eliminating the  unimaginative shepherd pies.

1. Antipasto – An Italian term referring to an assortment of hot or cold appetizers (smoked meats, fish, cheeses, olives, etc.), it literally translates to “before the pasta” and denotes a relatively light dish served before courses that are more substantial.

An antipasti platter

An antipasti platter

2. Bistro – A quaint, modest local bar or restaurant that serves regional specialties and wines.


3. Blackened – A cooking technique where meat or fish is coated with a seasoning mixture of paprika, cayenne pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, and dried oregano. This technique gives the food a crust and sears in the juices.


4. Bon Appetit- A French phrase that translates to ‘enjoy your meal’.

5. Broil – a method of cooking, in which the heat source is above or below the food and the speed with which it cooks, depends on how far away it is from the heating element and the foods thickness.

6. Canapé – French for “couch”, these are bite size bread portions that are served as a light accompaniment to cocktails.

Canapé platter

Canapé platter

7. Consommé– A clarified, highly flavorful broth served hot or cold. The broth is clarified using a “raft” of egg whites during preparation.

A mushroom consume

A mushroom consume

8. Cuvée – The contents of a wine vat or cask. Also, the blending of various vats into a whole. This term is used especially with champagne, where the ingredients of a cuvee may come from different wines of different vineyard plots.

9. Egg Wash – Either separated or whole egg mixed with water or milk brushed over pastries or other baked goods before baking to give them a gloss and added color.

egg wash

10. Emulsion – A mixture that occurs from the binding together of two liquids that normally do not combine easily, such as vinegar and oil.

11. Flambé – A French term meaning to pour a flammable spirit over food and ignite it. The purpose of which is to either enhance the flavor or for a culinary effect.


12. Fusion Cooking – A style of culinary art that incorporates ingredients and/or methods from several different ethnicities or regions.

13. Hors d’oeuvres – By definition, the first dish to be served at a meal particularly at lunch. There two types of hors d’oeuvre, cold and hot. The presentation is very important; it should always look very decorative.

Hors d'oeuvres platter

14. Jus – A French word loosely translated into “juice”, it is primarily a sauce made by diluting the pan juices of a roast with liquid then boiling it in the roasting pan until all of the sediment has absorbed into the stock.

15. Kneading– The process by which a mixture of dough is made softer and more elastic by incorporating air and additional ingredients at the same time.


16. Marinate– One of the oldest culinary procedures, used to steep meat or game in a marinade for a certain length of time to tenderize and flavor the meat.

Marinated meat

Marinated meat

17. Mise en Place– A French term referring, on a whole, to all of the operations carried out in a restaurant prior to serving the meal.

18. Offal– Also called ‘variety meats’, they are the edible internal parts and some extremities of a carcass.

19. Papillote– An Italian term referring to dishes cooked in sealed parchment paper.

20. Poaching– A method of cooking achieved by gently simmering food in a liquid.

Fish being poached

Fish being poached

21. Roux– A cooked mixture of equal amounts of flour and butter, or other fat, used to thicken many sauces and stews.

22. Sauté– A cooking technique which refers to preparing a food quickly in oil and/or butter over direct heat.

23. Searing– The browning or caramelizing of a foods surface using direct heat.

24. Tapas– A Spanish custom of serving small portions of food or hors d’oeuvres while drinking local wines or aperitifs, particularly in the evening.


25. Tempura– A Japanese technique of batter dipping and deep frying foods, particularly fish and vegetables.

Tempura prawns

Tempura prawns

 Certainly words you would love to eat if you are a cuisinomane. Now what’s that?

Food for thought and story for another day. Bon apetit!


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