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French Kitchen Vocabulary

Instructor: AJ Dana-Yoblonski

Dual citizen of France and Canada. Journalist - French print media (L'Obs, Paris Match, Le Parisien, ...) / Private tutor (grammar: English, French, Latin; literature) / Institutional communications officer

Yes, France IS the country of fine cuisine. But whether it's in a restaurant or at home, a good meal always starts in the kitchen. With this lesson on French kitchen vocabulary, you'll be able to steal your friends' good recipes!

Cooking in a French Kitchen

Your childhood French friend Hortense has invited you over for New Year's Eve... along with 30 other people! You offer your help, which she accepts: she's counting on you to assist her dans la cuisine (in the kitchen), because, after all, you've been friends forever! Hortense is about to prepare the hors-d'oeuvres, so she grabs a long list of ingredients out of the frigo and a plateau for serving them. Wait, what's that?

La Cuisine
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Storing and Preparing La Nourriture (The Food)

Kitchens in France are smaller and less open than those in North America, true. But the French still manage to prepare excellent meals in tiny spaces. Let's go over the basic equipment used to store and prepare food:

French Pronunciation English
Une cuisine Ku-ee-zee-n A kitchen
Un réfrigérateur Ray-free-zhee-ra-tör Refrigerator
Un frigo (colloquial Free-go Fridge
Un placard Pla-kar Cupboard
Une étagère Ay-ta-zheh-r Shelf
Un tiroir Tee-r-wah-r Drawer
Un four Foo-r Oven
Une cuisinière Ku-ee-zee-ni-eh-r Stovetop
Une cuisinière à gaz Ku-ee-zee-ni-eh-r a-gaz Gas stove
Une plaques de cuisson vitrocéramiques Pla-k dö ku-ee-san vee-tro-say-ra-mik Ceramic glass cooktops
Une plaques de cuisson au gaz Pla-k dö ku-ee-san o-gaz Gas cooktops
Un micro-ondes Mee-kro an-d Microwave

Hortense is growing more and more nervous. Clearly, you've been hired as a helper for the whole evening. Here are the actions she might ask you to do:

French Pronunciation English
Cuire Ku-ee-r To cook
Réchauffer (au micro-ondes) Ray-sho-fay To heat (in the microwave)
Découper Day-koo-pay To cut
Couper Koo-pay To chop
En petits morceaux On pö-ti mor-so In small pieces
En fines lamelles On fee-n la-meh-l In fine slices
Laver La-vay To wash
Remuer Rö-mu-ay To toss, to stir
Mélanger (une salade) May-lon-zh-ay To mix, to blend, to toss (a salad)

Where and how can you do that?

French Pronunciation English
Un couteau Koo-to Knife
Un couteau de cuisine Koo-to dö ku-ee-zee-n Kitchen knife
Une fourchette Foo-r-sh-eh-t Fork
Une cuiller (also spelled: cuillère) Ku-ee-yeh-r Spoon
Une planche à découper Plon-she a-day-koo-pay A cutting board
Un plan de travail Plon dö tra-va-y Counter

Serving the Food

The hors d'oeuvres have been served, but your job is far from being over: in France, meals during a seated dinner follow a very specific order:

  • l'entrée (on-tray): starters
  • le plat principal (pla pruhn-si-pal): main meal
  • le fromage (fro-ma-zh): literally, it means 'cheese.' The French usually have cheese after their main meal.
  • le dessert (day-seh-r): dessert

Le Fromage
A cheese platter

In order to servir (serve) the food and beverages, here's what you'll need:

French Pronunciation English
Un plateau Pla-to Tray
Une assiette A-si-eh-t Plate
Du sel Seh-l (Some) salt
Une salière Sa-li-eh-r A salt shaker
Du poivre P-wah-vre (Some) pepper
Une poivrière P-wah-vree-eh-r A pepper mill
Un verre Veh-r A glass
Une coupe / Une flûte Koo-pe / Flu-te A champagne glass
Un verre à pied Veh-r a-piay A wine glass
Un tire-bouchon Tee-r boo-shan A corkscrew

Of course, because you're still as clumsy as you were when you were a child, you spill some champagne on the floor as you open it. Hortense is not happy about it, but at least you didn't drop a plate, which would have entailed another delay in her military-like organization. But be careful: there are MANY actions you do not want to do in a kitchen:

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