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Old 03-08-2005, 06:11 PM   #1
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"Cross-Over" terms

Okay, aznchef's question on 'caramelizing' onions got me going on this -

The term 'caramelizing' originally came from the process used to turn sugar into a 'caramel'; it's come to mean just another term for 'browning' - ie, the caramelized onions; or 'saute the steak til caramelized'.

Another - napoleon - originally the name for a French dessert of layers of puff pastry with pastry cream, chocolate, and/or fruit in between. Now - we have 'eggplant' napoleons; tomato ones, etc. etc. Come to mean anything 'stacked'.

Anybody else?


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Old 03-08-2005, 07:35 PM   #2
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What a great post Marm!

I can think of two off the top of my head.

The first is stock. This used to mean a liquid made from boiling bones and usually vegetables. Now the term stock is used for stock as well as broth. Broth used to be the term for a stock that was made without boiling bones.

The second is Martini. A martini used to be a drink that had gin and vermouth. At one point vodka was an acceptable substitute for the gin. These days a martini is ANY drink that is served in a martini glass.

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Old 03-08-2005, 08:22 PM   #3
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There are tons. Heck, I use them all the time
  • Vinaigrette - Made with citrus or reduced fruit juice
  • Demi-Glace - Usually made with just Veal Stock
  • Jus - Sauce that is a lighter consistency
  • Beurre Blanc - Most of which are made with 1/2 cream
  • Aioli - Traditionally flavored with garlic, now basically any type of flavored mayonnaise emulsion
But that's the great thing about cooking. Taking the basics and then improving on them.
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:02 AM   #4
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You folks have sure hit most of the ones I can think of.

But if I may, I'll toss in confit.

My Food Lover's Companion defines it as an "ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck, or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat."

Heck, I've made them.

So how does what one might call a tomato or onion confit fit into that definition?

The recipes I have seen do not even even come close to the making of a true confit.

It seems like someone liked the name and tagged it onto a foodstuff it was never meant for.

And for some reason the term stuck.

Now I know words change their meaning, I happen to enjoy studying linguistics and grammar.

But to take a term that has a specific meaning and dilute it, to the point of making it meaningless, does not help anyone.

Why not be able to fry in stock? Or braise without liquid?


Sorry, just sounding off.

But if I ever find the person who took the term martini and used it for some blue concoction in a conical stem glass, I will take my umbrella and give him a whack on his noggin.

Or at least I will be sorry that I had not.
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:28 AM   #5
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Great posts, folks!

And I totally agree with you, auntdot- it's confusing to folks, like my DH, who has learned most of his cooking 'terminology' from me - we go to a restaurant, he sees something on a menu, and says, wait a minute, I thought this was ----whatever.

I appreciate the professionals coming up with new ways to make, design and present food, but I wish they'd come up with new names, too!
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Old 03-09-2005, 05:54 AM   #6
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I would agree that using culinary terms incorrectly leads to confusion, and dare one say it, disappointment. I have had many experiences of this, the worst was in Clifden in West Ireland. I won't go into it, but I left the restaurant having written down the recipes for the dishes I thought I was getting!!!

Caramelizing onions is not as silly as it might seem, onions do contain about 5% sugar, so it seems fair enough, but browning (a steak) is not IMHO, as it does not contain sugar, to my knowledge.:?:

Confit is another which could have a wider meaning, being suggestive of cooking something in its own 'juices', so fruit or watery veg (tomatoes) could come under this heading. But I'm with you, we have to accept that language is dynamic, but if we continue this trend of mis-naming, anything will mean anything else!!

Personally, I love real Indian food, and it makes me sad to see all the things that are produced in the name of curry ('if it has spices in, it must be curry' syndrome)

Maybe its up to us to enlighten the world?:p

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Old 03-09-2005, 08:58 AM   #7
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You guys have hit a ton of good ones! The only think I can think to add is torte. A torte, technically is: A rich cake, often made with little or no flour but instead with ground nuts or bread crumbs, eggs, sugar and flavorings. Tortes are often multilayered and filled with buttercream, jams, etc.

Seems that any layercake is called a torte lately just to make it sound more fancy.
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Old 03-09-2005, 01:41 PM   #8
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Like everything else, the Food and Beverage industry is constantly evolving. Besides, the English language is full of paradoxes. If Chef's limited themselves to only what the traditional meanings of dishes were, then ingenuity and creativity would plow to a standstill and everyone would still be eating only Chateaubriand and Seafood with Veloute Sauce. Using certain terms (confit, martini, vinaigrette, etc.) are viable because the food item may be similar in texture or cooking preparation, and it's a term that many people may be familiar or comfortable with. Also, if it's not the main component of a dish, it would simply be too long to write out "Onion Braised in Olive Oil with Fresh Herbs". Onion Confit is shorter, and it's something than many people can identify. Sure it's not traditional, but nothing ever is these days anyway.
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Old 03-09-2005, 03:58 PM   #9
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anyone mention pickles/pickled yet? both veggies and meat can be pickled, but when you just mention a pickle, you are almost always referring to an herb/spice brined cucumber.
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Old 03-09-2005, 04:04 PM   #10
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Im behind the martini one all the way and to add my own:

Organic: As some one who went to college and studied organic chestry the thought that some tomatos are organic while others arent strikes me as dumb. They should find another word, really.

My english, she's not so good... I meant to say I did it with the malice of forethought.
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