Menu Cheat Sheet: Deconstructing Gastro-Speak


Whether dining at a standard pizza chain or Michelin-starred gastro pub, you can be sure that a large portion of adjectives and complex terminology will be on the menu.

Even the most experienced foodie has been caught out by a humble steak dressed up as ‘Frenched chateaubriand à point on crushed heritage carrot’, and many restaurant menus result in us feeling like we’ve wandered onto the final of MasterChef. Are these overly-descriptive paragraphs about our food’s origin, quality, pedigree, favourite music, political leanings… really all that necessary?

This burgeoning trend is partly a consequence of modern cuisine being continually influenced by countless other cultures, which is surely a good thing. Much terminology used by chefs today is unusual to us due to its cultural roots – who honestly knows the difference between a burrito, tostada and chimichanga? Or maki, nigiri and iso sushi? Of course, many culinary terms still used today are French (France being the undisputed pioneer of gourmet cooking). In this case, deciphering what exactly you’ll be served upon ordering a ‘confit of duck with legumes émincé’ is more an exercise in translation.

However, we can’t help but feel that the gastronomes of today are taking food description a little too far – it seems as though nothing leaves a kitchen without being ‘deconstructed’, ‘reduced’, ‘enhanced’, or whipped into a ‘foam’. As an antidote to the confusion and embarrassing mis-orderings that ensue from complicated food terminology, we’ve put together the ultimate ‘Menu Cheat Sheet’, designed to guide you through the culinary quagmire of semantics and adjectives, so you can be sure what’ll end up on your plate. You’re welcome!


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