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Pronouncin Foie Gras


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That's one of the things I always thought was funny about Iron Chef - the pronunciations of French/English words.

Foie gras was one of the best - it came out as sort of a one-and-a-half syllable thing, like "fwawww-gh". :biggrin:

"Tea and cake or death! Tea and cake or death! Little Red Cookbook! Little Red Cookbook!" --Eddie Izzard
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I thought it came out as fwahgra, rhyming with viagra, on Iron Chef. I think it took a couple of shows for me to understand they were speaking of a traditional French specialty and not some unfamiliar Japanese product.

I suspect the people who order "frog wah" may be affected by Iron Chef. Then again they may have lived on Lawn Guyland. There's a poetic appeal to "frog wah" or at least to the way it starts.

"Engorged goose or duck liver ... that's ninety percent fat" has got to drive up the sales.

:biggrin:

I have an American friend who spends much of his year in the company of those whose native language is French and who speak no English. For a decade or more he's spent at least a few months a year in rural France and his friends and neighbors are mostly French. Of course all the merchants he deals with are French. He still manages to order a couple of wines whose names start with something that comes out as "poolly."

So how is it handled at the restaurant? Restaurant staff should have two conflicting responsibilties here. One is not to embarrass the clientele and the other is to help him not embarrass himself elsewhere. So I'm hosting a table of eight and you (or the waiter and captain) are hoping for a nice tip. I order the foy grass. It's possible someone in the party already knows better. Do you save the host the embarrassment of repeating his error, or do you ignore it? Do you use his pronounciation to make him feel comfortable and allow him the opportunity to say that's just how the sommelier at xxx pronounced it last week, when he's corrected elsewhere.

When the suave debonair host says there's glass in his salad, do you take it away and bring one without fleur de sel and let him spread rumors about the time he found ground glass in his salad at the restaurant or do you correct him in front of his friends and guests? Whatever you do, is it the tip, politics, or etiquette that drives your response?

Did you intent to write "pronouncin" in the topic title? :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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So, what is the correct way? It is fwah grah, right? I pronouced out loud all those ways in the first post and some of them came out the same.

Sometimes I screw up pronounciations I usually know just because I feel put on the spot when the server comes around :biggrin: But maybe they don't know how to pronounce it either, right?

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I believe the accepted way to order this dish is to say, "Bring me that froy grass, you know, the expensive shit." You then turn to your date and say, "Stick with me, baby, and you'll be fartin' through silk."

Always eager to help.

Chad

Edited by Chad (log)

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Oh, please, Hungarian is even stranger to pronounce than French, IMO. Not that I have any trouble with French. But HWOE does -- he can't do that properly guttaral rrrrrrrr, so most of his attempts sound like something from Mark's list.

George Lang has a recipe for "Cauliflower with Goose Liver à la Wesselényi" which in Hungarian is:

Karfiol libamájjal à la Wesselényi

Since karfiol is cauliflower, libamájjal must be the "fresh liver of a fattened goose," as in the ingredient list. But how to pronounce???

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Well, I hate to have to point this out, but I'm on the other side of the table, and get to hear all sorts of fun stuff drop from the mouths of presumably educated servers in very high end restaurants. Favorite examples:

pree fee (that's prix fixe to the rest of us)

broo nwa (brunoise takes a nice long "zzz" sound at the end)

vee shee swa (vichyssoise; see brunoise)

nee swa (as in salade nicoise; see brunoise)

broo shet a (the "sch" is "sk" in this instance)

I can't even approximate what happens to mille feuille.

On of my favorites was the evening I was informed that the dish accompanying my beef was spatlese. Imagine my relief when the expected little dumplings actually showed up.

As for that bone-headed customer whose pronunciation differs from yours, rest assured that I won't make a big deal about correcting you. I'll get a big laugh out of it, sure, but it won't affect your tip. Attempting to correct me, on the other hand, is likely to draw rather more attention to the situation than is strictly necessary.

Can you pee in the ocean?

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Well, I hate to have to point this out, but I'm on the other side of the table, and get to hear all sorts of fun stuff drop from the mouths of presumably educated servers in very high end restaurants. Favorite examples:

pree fee (that's prix fixe to the rest of us)

broo nwa (brunoise takes a nice long "zzz" sound at the end)

vee shee swa (vichyssoise; see brunoise)

nee swa (as in salade nicoise; see brunoise)

broo shet a (the "sch" is "sk" in this instance)

I can't even approximate what happens to mille feuille.

On of my favorites was the evening I was informed that the dish accompanying my beef was spatlese. Imagine my relief when the expected little dumplings actually showed up.

As for that bone-headed customer whose pronunciation differs from yours, rest assured that I won't make a big deal about correcting you. I'll get a big laugh out of it, sure, but it won't affect your tip. Attempting to correct me, on the other hand, is likely to draw rather more attention to the situation than is strictly necessary.

Nice list, therese. There was a restaurant here once called La Niçoise - which everyone in Washington called Lonny Swah's.

I agree with others that correcting patrons at the table is a bad idea. That doesn't stop if from being a source of giggles at work. I didn't even get into the slaughter that French wine names get routinely.

Here's a free tip: none of the T's in Montrachet are pronounced. :biggrin:

Mark

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Shit, if the French can ban English words, why the hell don't we just ban French words???? :wink: C'mon, you think my 10th grade French 1 class taught me how to pronounce all these high-falutin' words? Just gimme the liver, on the fixed price menu, with some cold 'tater soup. Oh, a side of toast with the 'maters on it would be good. A glass of white wine would be fine.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Well, I'll be the first to admit that I struggle to pronounce certain French words (but I'm certain I at least pronounce foie gras correctly, not that I'd ever order it). I never studied the scratch-a-frackin language, so gimme a break, will ya? I'm not mispronouncing it, it's just my accent. :raz:

Do we poke equal fun at the English-speaking folks who can't pronounce English words? (I do!) Crayon. Aunt. Poem. Drawer. Ask. Coupon. Wash. Often. Nuclear. I bet we all mispronounce at least one of these words.

We need more German food. I know I can pronounce that stuff.

Sherri A. Jackson
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Here's a free tip: none of the T's in Montrachet are pronounced.  :biggrin:

Um... isn't the first T pronounced? I've always heard: [mõ-tRa-Se], and [mõ-Ra-Se] just doesn't seem right to me. (NB. I'm using a big "S" in place of the usual IPA symbol for "sh" which doesn't seem to work in Explorer; the big "R" means it is uvular).

One of my favorite mispronunciations, which I think is mentioned in one of Mario Batali's books, is when people say they want their pasta "al dante." As in, "please prepare my pasta in the style of the guy who wrote The Divine Comedy."

--

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Too funny... I love it!

I am new here and will take this opportunity to say how much I like eGullet.com and thank my good friend, the very talented Richard Pawlak, for telling me about it.

You have a true appreciation of good food and drink, and the humor is great. Lots of good writers, too!

Mark, Citronelle is one of the restaurants I always wanted to try but didn't get to when I lived up north. If I ever make a trip up, I will dine there. It's nice to "meet" you.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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. . . Crayon.  Aunt.  Poem.  Drawer.  Ask.  Coupon.  Wash.  Often.  Nuclear . . .

I don't know about the rest of you, but I pronounce all of these correctly.

It's "noo-queue-ler," right? As in the "noo-queue-las" of the atom? :blink:

--

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. . . Crayon.  Aunt.  Poem.  Drawer.  Ask.  Coupon.  Wash.  Often.  Nuclear . . .

I don't know about the rest of you, but I pronounce all of these correctly.

It's "noo-queue-ler," right? As in the "noo-queue-las" of the atom? :blink:

You are kidding, right? :unsure:

My father is from LA and my mother is from the Boston suburbs. Each parent pronounces every one of those differently.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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. . . Crayon.  Aunt.  Poem.  Drawer.  Ask.  Coupon.  Wash.  Often.  Nuclear . . .

I don't know about the rest of you, but I pronounce all of these correctly.

There's an alternate pronunciation for crayon??? :blink: (It's "ant" , not "awnt".)

Mark's correct. No Ts in Montrachet.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Let's not fergit joo-lu-ree.

Oh yes. :blink:

I just don't understand how people come up with certain pronunciations. Like how on earth does one get 'poim' from poem?

Ah well...pick your battles, right? :huh:

I'll think I'll go have some fwoo grass.

Sherri A. Jackson
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