How's Your Kitchen French? A Chef Explains Common French Cooking Terms by Chef Gigi

How's Your Kitchen French? A Chef Explains Common French Cooking Terms

Think bouquet garni is something to give your mom on Mother's Day? Think cornichon is a fancy horn played at the symphony? You need to review this short list of French cooking terms ASAP! These are terms you may hear while dining at a restaurant or when reading a French recipe, which will probably be one of the most delicious you will ever discover!


  • Bouquet Garni (boo-kay gar-nee) is a bundle of herbs tied together with string or wrapped in a cheesecloth square, usually parsley, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns. The flavor is released during prolonged cooking and removed before serving.
  • Chervil (sher-vil) is related to parsley but has a delicate anise flavor. Long cooking kills flavor, so add it at the last minute.
  • Cornichon (kor-nee-shon) are teeny-tiny pickles that are usually served with pates and smoked meats. They can be found in specialty food stores and larger grocery stores.
  • Fines Herbes (feen-airb) mix of finely chopped herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon and chervil. Not as strong as a bouquet garni.
  • Fromage (fra-mahj) is cheese! The French eat more than any nationality, making more cheeses than any other country.
  • Herbes de Provence (airb-duh-pro-vonce) is a mix of dried herbs, usually thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil and bay leaf. (Make homemade herbs de provence.)
  • Mutarde (moo-tard) is mustard. The most famously used are Dijon, from the town of Burgundy; Meaux, from Meaux, east of Paris; and whole-grained made by Pommery.
  • Nicoise Olive (nee-swaz- oh-leev) is a small, purplish-black olive with a mellow, nutty flavor. They are used primarily in Salade Nicoise. The Picholine variety is a green, medium-sized olive with a light, nutty flavor.
  • Roux (roo) is a paste-like mix of melted butter and flour, into which liquid is gradually added. The basis of every classic French sauce. Usually referred to as equal parts of flour and fat. Melt butter and add flour, stirring vigorously, until it becomes a paste-like consistency. At this point, add slowly whatever liquid your recipe calls for.

Have a cooking term you'd like to know more about? Tell us in the comments section below.

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