Eating is easy, enjoyable, and complicated. Between proteins, veggies, desserts, and things we've never heard of, menus have rendered us sometimes embarrassingly illiterate. When it comes to what we're eating and what *insert word here* is, how confident are you about knowing the terminology on the menu? Fear not, we're here to cast aside complicated culinary kerfuffles and have your vocabulary as voracious as your appetite.
The restaurant industry is massive, with annual sales in the United States reaching $783 billion. We know you're out there indulging, so let's indulge our brains with some cooking terms you'll never have to Google again.
- Amuse Bouche: This little morsel is out of the hands of the dinner guest. It's a bite-sized appetizer, the choice of which is totally controlled by the chef. Think of it as a tasty treat, compliments of the person cooking your food.
- Al Dente: An Italian term applied to pasta, it literally translates "to the tooth". Pasta cooked too long becomes soft, pasta al dente is undercooked slightly to preserve some texture and literal tooth feel.
- Demiglace: It's a French term denoting sauce made from a mixture of beef stock and sweet red wine or sherry. It's cooked and reduced from liquid to a stickier glaze consistency, generally used atop various proteins in an entree.
- Roux: Again, a French term, a roux is a thickening agent for sauces. It's made simply by combining equal parts flour and fat, then adding to your sauce until desired consistency is reached.
While a restaurant kitchen might seem like spiral dough mixers, industrial meat cutters, and other commercial grade restaurant equipment, it pays to remember the vast history and language of the environment. These terms aren't complicated, though we barely scratched the surface of the complete culinary dictionary, so stay well read and curious. You'll go swiftly from confusedly cutting meat to spirited dialogues with industry professionals both novice and expert. The key to enjoying food is staying interested in it the world surrounding it. You'll need it as long as human beings need to eat, which is forever. We'd tell you to stay hungry, but we know you will. Now go and enjoy.