Dining Etiquette Terms

Etiquette Scholar

A to D

à la
[ah lah]
"in the manner (or style) of"; the full phrase is à la mode de. Indicates type of preparation or a garnish.

à la carte
[ah lah KAHRT]
A menu term signifying that each item is priced separately.

[SIHV-iht, Fr , . see-VAY]
Culinarily, civet is a well-seasoned stew of furred game — usually rabbit — flavored with onions, mushrooms and red wine.

1. A chilled dish of fresh or dried fruit that has been slowly cooked in a SUGAR SYRUP (which may contain liquor or liqueur and sometimes spices). Slow cooking is important for the fruit to retain its shape. 2. Also called compotier, a deep, stemmed dish (usually of silver or glass) used to hold fruit, nuts or candy.

[kuhn-SERV, KON-surv]
A mixture of fruits, nuts and sugar, cooked together until thick, often used to spread on biscuits, crumpets and so on.

[KON-suh-may, kon-suh-MAY]
A clarified meat or fish broth. Consommé can be served hot or cold, and is variously used as a soup or sauce base. A double consommé has been reduced until it is half the volume (and has twice the flavor) of regular (or single) consommé.


Eaten plain or used in a sauce or COMPOUND BUTTER, coral is simply the ROE (eggs) of a CRUSTACEAN such as lobster or scallop. When cooked, it turns a beautiful coral-red color.

1. A general term referring to a thick puree or sauce, such as a tomato coulis. 2. The word can also refer to thick, pureed shellfish soups. 3. Originally, the term coulis was used to describe the juices from cooked meat.

Ice cream or sherbet with a topping of fruit, whipped cream and, traditionally, glazed chestnuts (MARRONS glacés). Classically, the dessert is served in a coupe dish, which is stemmed, and has a wide, deep bowl.

crab imperial
A classic American dish of crabmeat combined with mayonnaise or a sherried white sauce, spooned into blue-crab or scallop shells, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs and baked until golden brown.

crab Louis; crab Louie
A cold dish in which lump crabmeat on a bed of shredded lettuce is topped with a dressing of mayonnaise, CHILI SAUCE, cream, scallions, green pepper, lemon juice and seasonings. The crab can be garnished with a quartered tomato and hard-cooked egg. Credit for the origin of crab Louis depends on to whom you talk. Some attribute this dish to the chef at Seattle's Olympic Club, while others say it was created in San Francisco — either by the chef at Solari's restaurant or the one at the St. Francis Hotel. Whatever the case, today there are about as many versions of this favorite as there are cooks.

crème fraîche
[krehm FRESH]
This matured, thickened cream has a slightly tangy, nutty flavor and velvety rich texture. The thickness of crème fraîche can range from that of commercial sour cream to almost as solid as room-temperature margarine. In France, where crème fraîche is a specialty, the cream is unpasteurized and therefore contains the bacteria necessary to thicken it naturally. In America, where all commercial cream is PASTEURIZED, the fermenting agents necessary for crème fraîche can be obtained by adding buttermilk or sour cream. A very expensive American facsimile of crème fraîche is sold in some gourmet markets. The expense seems frivolous, however, when it's so easy to make an equally delicious version at home. To do so, combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. Crème fraîche is the ideal addition for sauces or soups because it can be boiled without curdling. It's delicious spooned over fresh fruit or other desserts such as warm cobblers or puddings.

A mixture of minced meat or vegetables, a thick white sauce and seasonings that is formed into small cylinders, ovals or rounds, dipped in beaten egg and then bread crumbs, and deep-fried until crisp and brown.

An edible container used to hold a thick stew, creamed meat or vegetable mixture, puree and so on. A croustade can be made from pastry, a hollowed-out bread loaf or pureed potatoes or pasta that have been shaped to form a casing for food. Before filling it with food, the container is deep-fried or toasted until golden-brown and crisp. Small filled croustades can be served as an appetizer or first course.

Often served as an appetizer, crudités are raw seasonal vegetables, frequently accompanied with a dipping sauce, such as BAGNA CAUDA.

A dessert of disc-shaped, nut-flavored MERINGUES stacked and filled with sweetened whipped cream or BUTTERCREAM. It's served chilled, often with fruit. See also MARJOLAINE.

Delmonico potatoes
Named after the 19th-century New York restaurant of the same name whose owner-chef created this dish. It consists of cooked and creamed diced (or mashed) potatoes topped with grated cheese and buttered bread crumbs, then baked until golden brown.

Delmonico steak
Another specialty made famous at Delmonico's (see DELMONICO POTATOES), this tender, flavorful steak is a boneless beef cut from the SHORT LOIN. Depending on the region, butcher and so on. It's also referred to as a NEW YORK STEAK. The Delmonico steak can be broiled, grilled or fried.


A small cup of black coffee; also: the cup to serve it

Denver sandwich
Also called a Western sandwich , this classic consists of an egg scrambled with chopped ham, onion and green pepper, sandwiched with two slices of bread and garnished with lettuce.

diplomat pudding
This cold, molded dessert consists of alternating layers of LIQUEUR-soaked ladyfingers (or sponge cake), jam, chopped candied fruit and custard (sometimes combined with whipped cream). Diplomat pudding is usually garnished with whipped-cream rosettes and candied fruit.

diplomat sauce
A fish stock-based VELOUTÉ SAUCE enriched with cream, brandy, LOBSTER BUTTER and truffles. It's generally served with fish and shellfish.

duchess potatoes
Cooked potatoes that are pureed with egg yolks and butter, then formed into small shapes or piped as a garnish and baked until golden brown. The term à la duchesse refers to dishes garnished with duchess potatoes.

[dook-SEHL, deu-SEHL]

A mixture of finely chopped mushrooms, shallots and herbs slowly cooked in butter until it forms a thick paste. It's used to flavor sauces, soups and other mixtures, as well as for a garnish.

E to M

Eccles cake
Named for the Lancashire, England, town of Eccles, this small domed confection has a filling of CURRANTS and other dried fruit mixed with sugar and butter and encased in a PUFF PASTRY shell.

1. In America, the term "entrée" refers to the main course of a meal. 2. In parts of Europe, it refers to the dish served between the fish and meat courses during formal dinners.

French for "between dishes," the word entremets on a menu refers to desserts. At one time, this word was used to describe small side dishes served between principal courses or with the main course.

filet mignon
[fih-LAY mihn-YON]
This expensive, boneless cut of beef comes from the small end of the tenderloin. The filet mignon is usually 1 to 2 inches thick and 1 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter. It's extremely tender but lacks the flavor of beef with the bone attached. Cook filet mignon quickly by broiling, grilling or sautéing.

flank steak
Long, thin and fibrous, this boneless cut of beef comes from the animal's lower hindquarters. It's usually tenderized by marinating, then broiled or grilled whole. In the case of London broil , the flank steak is cut and cooked in large pieces, then thinly sliced across the grain.

maître d'hôtel; maître d'
[MAY-truh (MAY-tehr) doh-TELL, may-truh DEE]
A headwaiter or house steward, sometimes informally referred to simply as maître d'.


1: a head steward of a large household (as a palace)
2: butler, steward
3: a person who speaks, makes arrangements, or takes charge for another ; broadly : the person who runs an enterprise <the majordomo of the fair>

A majordomo is a person who speaks, makes arrangements, or takes charge for another. Typically, the term refers to the highest (major) person of a household (domo) staff, one who acts on behalf of the (often absent) owner of a typically large residence. Similar terms include castellan, concierge, chamberlain, seneschal, Mayor of the Palace, maître d'hôtel, butler and steward. The term also refers, more informally, to someone who oversees the day-to-day responsibilities of a business enterprise.

Flecks or thin streaks of fat that run throughout a piece of meat, enhancing its flavor, tenderness and juiciness. Very lean cuts of meat are sometimes artificially marbled.

A soft, fatty tissue found in the hollow center of an animal's leg bones and, though not as plentiful, in the spinal bones. It isn't widely consumed in the United States, but marrow is considered a delicacy by many Europeans and is the highlight of the famous Milanese specialty OSSO BUCO. Marrowbones (those that contain marrow) can be purchased at meat markets and most supermarkets (though special ordering may be necessary). They should be wrapped, refrigerated and used within a day or two of purchase. Marrow is extremely light and digestible. It can be cooked in the bone (and removed afterwards) or it may be removed first and cooked separately. The common methods of preparation are baking or poaching, after which the marrow is often spread on toast and served as an appetizer. A special long, narrow utensil called a marrow spoon or scoop can be used to extract the marrow from the bone. Marrow is also added to soups for body and flavor. It has the same calorie count as beef fat and contains a small amount of protein.

One of the two main classifications of SHELLFISH (the other being CRUSTACEAN), mollusks are invertebrates with soft bodies covered by a shell of one or more pieces. Mollusks are further divided into GASTROPODS (also called univalves ), such as the ABALONE and SNAIL; BIVALVES, like the CLAM and OYSTER; and CEPHALOPODS, such as the OCTOPUS and SQUID. See also CONCH; CUTTLEFISH; MUSSEL; PERIWINKLE; SCALLOP; WHELK.

Mongolian grill
This audience-participation cooking is said to have originated during the time of Genghis Khan when his warriors in the field would sit around grills and enjoy cooking their own food. The basic approach is for each diner to dip thin slices of lamb (or other meat) into a ginger-soy sauce MARINADE before placing them on a hot grill (usually a large HIBACHI) set on the center of the table. Each individual cooks his or her meat (the Mongolian grill) according to personal preference. The grill is sometimes garnished with chopped scallions, mushrooms or watercress and eaten on plain buns.

Mongolian hot pot; Mongolian firepot
This is a kind of Chinese FONDUE, also known as Chinese firepot or boiling firepot . A giant communal pot of slowly simmering stock is placed in the center of the table and the participants are provided with a variety of raw, thinly sliced meats (lamb, beef, fish, poultry, etc.) and vegetables. Diners immerse pieces of their food into the simmering stock, cook it to their liking and, if desired, dip the food into one of a selection of CONDIMENTS. After the food is cooked, the rich broth is consumed by any who have room for it.

Belonging to the same fungus species as the truffle, the morel is an edible wild mushroom. Its spongy, honeycombed, cone-shape cap ranges in size from 2 to 4 inches high and in color from a rich tan to an extremely dark brown. The morel is widely applauded by gourmets, who savor its smoky, earthy, nutty flavor. In general, the darker the mushroom the stronger the flavor. Wild morels usually appear in specialty produce markets in April and the season can last through June. Cultivated morels may appear sporadically throughout the year. Choose fresh specimens that have a firm yet spongy texture. Imported canned morels can be found in gourmet markets year-round. Dried morels have a more intense, smokier flavor than fresh ones and have the advantage of being available year-round. The marvelous flavor of the morel needs little embellishment and this mushroom is best when simply sautéed in butter.

mountain oysters
Also called Rocky Mountain oysters and prairie oysters , these are the testicles of an animal such as a calf, sheep or boar. Those from a younger animal are best. Mountain oysters can be special-ordered through most meat markets. They should be used as soon as possible, preferably within a day of purchase. Though they're not terribly popular in the United States, testicles are considered a delicacy in Italy and France. They can be sautéed, deep-fried, braised and poached.

Developed as a health food by Swiss nutritionist Dr. Bircher-Benner near the end of the 19th century, muesli has since become a popular breakfast cereal. The German word muesli means "mixture," and this one can include raw or toasted cereals (oats, wheat, millet, barley, etc.), dried fruits (such as raisins, apricots and apples), nuts, bran, wheat germ, sugar and dried-milk solids. It is usually eaten with milk, yogurt or fruit juice. There are a number of commercial variations available in most supermarkets, usually labeled GRANOLA.


Archaeological findings indicate that this BIVALVE MOLLUSK (see both listings ) has been used as food for over 20,000 years. Europeans love mussels, which are cultivated on special farms to meet the high demand. Americans, however, have never been as enamored of mussels as they have of oysters and clams, and huge quantities along U.S. coasts go unharvested. There are dozens of mussel species, all of which have an extremely thin, oblong shell that can range in color from indigo blue to bright green to yellowish-brown. Depending on the species, the shell can be from 1 1/2 to 6 inches in length. The creamy-tan meat is tougher than that of either the oyster or clam but it has a delicious, slightly sweet flavor. The most abundant mussel is the blue or common mussel found along the Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Its shell is dark blue and 2 to 3 inches in length. The green-lipped mussel is imported from New Zealand (which is why it's also called New Zealand green mussel ) and has a large (3 to 4 inches long), bright green shell. Live, fresh mussels are generally available year-round. On the West Coast, however, the mussel season is November through April. This is because microscopic organisms (of "red tide" notoriety) make mussels unsafe to eat during the spring and summer months. Buy mussels with tightly closed shells or those that snap shut when tapped — otherwise they're not alive and fresh. Avoid those with broken shells, that feel heavy (meaning they're full of sand) or that feel light and loose when shaken (signalling that the mussel is dead). Shucked mussels should be plump, their liquid clear. Smaller mussels will be more tender than large ones. Fresh mussels, live or shucked, should be stored in the refrigerator and used within a day or two. Plain and smoked mussels packed in oil are also available. Mussels may be steamed, fried, baked or used as an ingredient in dishes like BOUILLABAISSE or PAELLA.

N to R

New York steak

Also known as New York strip steak and shell steak , this cut of meat comes from the most tender section of beef, the SHORT LOIN. It's the boneless top loin muscle and is equivalent to a PORTERHOUSE steak minus tenderloin and bone. Depending on the region, it's also marketed as Delmonico steak, Kansas City (strip) steak, shell steak, sirloin club steak and strip steak . This tender cut may be broiled, grilled or sautéed.

nouvelle cuisine [noo-vehl kwee-ZEEN]

A French term meaning "new cooking," referring to a culinary style, begun in the early 1970s, that moved away from the rich, heavy style of classic French cuisine toward fresher, lighter food served in smaller portions. The sauces are lighter because they're REDUCED instead of being thickened with flour. Nouvelle cuisine vegetables are quickly cooked and therefore are tender yet slightly crisp.

Olympia oyster [oh-LIHM-pee-uh]

Native to the Pacific Coast, the Olympia oyster is found primarily in the Pacific Northwest around Washington's Puget Sound. It's very small, seldom exceeding 1 1/2 inches. The Olympia has an excellent flavor and is a favorite for eating ON THE HALF SHELL. Because they are so small, it takes a fair number to satisfy most oyster aficionados.

on the half shell

A phrase commonly used to describe raw oysters served on the bottom shell only, usually on a plate of crushed ice or, in the case of cooked dishes such as OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER, on a bed of rock salt. Some oyster lovers eat these fresh oysters without any CONDIMENTS, sipping the oyster liquor from its bottom shell. Others adorn theirs with lemon juice, horseradish, tabasco sauce, cocktail sauce, ketchup or vinegar.


The oxtail was once really from an ox but nowadays the term generally refers to beef or veal tail. Though it's quite bony, this cut of meat is very flavorful. Because it can be extremely tough (depending on the age of the animal), oxtail requires long, slow braising. It's often used for stews or soups such as the hearty English classic oxtail soup, which includes vegetables, barley and herbs and is often flavored with SHERRY or MADEIRA


Though 18th-century satirist Jonathan Swift once wrote, "He was a bold man that first ate an oyster," this BIVALVE has been a culinary favorite for thousands of years. The hard, rough, gray shell contains a meat that can vary in color from creamy beige to pale gray, in flavor from salty to bland and in texture from tender to firm. There are both natural and cultivated oyster beds throughout the world. In the United States, there are three primary species of oysters that are commercially harvested — Pacific (or Japanese), Eastern (or Atlantic) and the Olympia. Each species is sold under different names depending on where they're harvested. OLYMPIA OYSTERS are rarely larger than 1 1/2 inches and hail from Washington's Puget Sound. The PACIFIC OYSTER (or Japanese oyster ) is found along the Pacific seaboard and can reach up to a foot long. Considered culinarily superior to the Pacific oysters are ATLANTIC OYSTERS (or Eastern oysters ), the most well known of which is the BLUEPOINT. Others from the Atlantic seaboard — named for their place of origin — include Apalachicola, Cape Cod, Chincoteague, Indian River, Kent Island, Malpeque and Wellfleet. In Europe, the French are famous for their BELON OYSTERS (which are now also being farmed in the United States) and their green-tinged Marennes oysters; the English have their Colchester, Helford and Whitstable oysters; and the Irish have Galway oysters. Fresh oysters are available year-round. Today's widespread refrigeration keeps them cool during hot weather, debunking the old myth of not eating them during months spelled without an "r." However, oysters are at their best — particularly for serving raw ON THE HALF SHELL — during fall and winter because they spawn during the summer months and become soft and fatty. Shipping costs generally prohibit movement of oysters far from their beds, limiting the abundant supply to local varieties. Live oysters are best as fresh as possible and therefore should be purchased from a store with good turnover. Reject those that do not have tightly closed shells or that don't snap shut when tapped. The smaller the oyster is (for its species) the younger and more tender it will be. Fresh, SHUCKED oysters are also available and should be plump, uniform in size, have good color, smell fresh and be packaged in clear, not cloudy oyster LIQUOR. Live oysters should be covered with a damp towel and refrigerated (larger shell down) up to 3 days. The sooner they're used the better they'll taste. Refrigerate shucked oysters in their liquor and use within 2 days. Oysters are also available canned in water or their own liquor, frozen and smoked. Oysters in the shell can be served raw, baked, steamed, grilled or in specialty dishes such as OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER. Shucked oysters can be batter-fried, sautéed, grilled, used in soups or stews or in special preparations such as dressings, poultry stuffings or appetizers like ANGELS ON HORSEBACK. Oysters are high in calcium, niacin and iron, as well as a good source of protein.

Pacific oyster

Also called the Japanese oyster , this species has an elongated fragile shell that can reach up to a foot across. It's found along the Pacific seaboard. Because of its size, the Pacific oyster is generally cut up and used in soups, stews and other cooked dishes.

pan-broil; panbroil

To cook meats or fish quickly in a heavy, ungreased (or lightly greased) frying pan over high heat. Drippings are poured off as they form.

periwinkle [PEHR-ih-wing-kuhl]

There are over 300 species of this conical, spiral-shelled UNIVALVE, MOLLUSK (see both listings ), but few are edible. Periwinkles, also called bigaros, sea snails or winkles , are found attached to rocks, wharves, pilings, etc. in both fresh and sea water. The most common edible periwinkle is found along the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America. It grows to about 1 inch in size and is gray to dark olive with reddish-brown bands. Periwinkles are popular in Europe but rarely found in the United States. They're usually boiled in their shells, then extracted with a small pick.

pismo clam [PIHS-moh]

This Pacific hard-shell clam is considered one of the choicest of its genre. Unfortunately, it's also becoming one of the scarcest. Pismos are tender, sweet and large — usually with a minimum shell diameter of 5 inches. The adductor muscle (which hinges the two shells) is so tender that it can be served ON THE HALF SHELL. The body meat can be steamed, fried or used in chowder.

porterhouse steak

A steak cut from the large end of the SHORT LOIN containing meat from both the tenderloin (the most tender cut of meat) and the top loin muscle. This is one of the best and most expensive steaks. See also BEEF.

prime rib

The term "prime rib" is often incorrectly used as a label for what is actually a RIB ROAST. Culinarily, the term "prime" actually refers to the highest USDA beef grade. It's only given to the finest beef, hallmarked by even marbling and a creamy layer of fat. Very little prime beef makes it past the better hotels and restaurants or prestige butchers. The best grade of beef generally found in supermarkets is USDA Choice. Therefore, although "prime rib" is how rib roast is often labeled, chances are that it's USDA Choice beef.

raclette [rah-KLEHT, ra-KLEHT]

1. A cow's-milk cheese from Switzerland that's similar to GRUYÈRE in both texture (semifirm and dotted with small holes) and flavor (mellow and nutty). It can be found in specialty cheese stores and many supermarkets. 2. A dish by the same name consisting of a chunk of raclette cheese that is exposed to heat (traditionally an open fire) and scraped off as it melts. (Electric raclette machines are also available.) The word raclette comes from racler , French for "to scrape." It's served as a meal with boiled potatoes, dark bread and CORNICHONS or other pickled vegetables.

ramekin [RAM-ih-kihn]

1. An individual baking dish (3 to 4 inches in diameter) that resembles a miniature soufflé dish. Ramekins are usually made of porcelain or earthenware and can be used for both sweet and savory dishes — either baked or chilled. 2. A tiny baked pastry filled with a creamy cheese custard.

razor clam

The most famous West Coast SOFT-SHELL CLAM, the razor clam is so-named because its shell resembles a folded, old-fashioned straight razor. It's best when steamed.

rib roast

A beef roast from the rib section between the SHORT LOIN and the CHUCK. The three most popular styles are standing rib roast, rolled rib roast and rib-eye roast. The standing rib roast usually includes at least three ribs (less than that is really just a very thick steak). It's roasted standing upright, resting on its rack of ribs, thereby allowing the top layer of fat to melt and self-baste the meat. A rolled rib roast has had the bones removed before being rolled and tied into a cylinder. Removing the bones also slightly diminishes the flavor of this roast. The boneless rib-eye roast is the center, most desirable and tender portion of the rib section. Therefore, it's also the most expensive. Many rib roasts are often inappropriately labeled PRIME RIB. In fact, they can't be called prime rib unless the cut actually comes from USDA Prime beef — rarely found in meat markets today.

rib steak

This tender, flavorful beef steak is a boneless cut from the rib section (between the SHORT LOIN and the CHUCK). If the bones are removed the result is the extremely tender rib-eye steak . Both should be quickly cooked by grilling, broiling or frying. See also beef; rib roast;

roe [ROH]

This delicacy falls into two categories — hard roe and soft roe. Hard roe is female fish eggs, while soft roe (also called white roe ) is the milt of male fish. The eggs of some CRUSTACEANS (such as lobster) are referred to as CORAL. Roe can range in size from 1 to 2 ounces to over 3 pounds. If the fish is small, the roe is cooked inside the whole fish. The roe of medium and large fish is usually removed and cooked separately. Most fish roe is edible but others (including that of the great barracuda and some members of the puffer and trunkfish families) are toxic. The choicest roe comes from carp, herring, mackerel and shad, but those from cod, flounder, haddock, lumpfish, mullet, perch, pike, salmon, sturgeon and whitefish also have their fans. Salting roe transforms it into CAVIAR. Roe is marketed fresh, frozen and canned. Fresh roe is available in the spring. It should have a clean smell and look moist and firm. The extremely fragile membrane that holds the eggs or milt must be gently washed before preparation. Roe can be sautéed, poached or, providing it's medium-size or larger, broiled. It can also be used in sauces.

round, beef

This section of the hind leg of beef extends from the rump to the ankle. Since the leg has been toughened by exercise, the round is less tender than some cuts. There are six major sections into which the round can be divided: the rump; the four main muscles (top round, sirloin tip, bottom round and eye of round); and the heel. The rump is a triangular cut taken from the upper part of the round. This flavorful section is generally cut into rump steaks or two or three roasts that, when boned and rolled, are referred to as rump roasts. Those with the bone in are called standing rump roasts. Pieces from the rump section are best cooked by moist-heat methods. The top round, which lies on the inside of the leg, is the most tender of the four muscles in the round. Thick top-round cuts are often called butterball steak or London broil , whereas thin cuts are referred to simply as top round steak . The boneless sirloin tip is also called top sirloin, triangle and loin tip . The better grades can be oven-roasted; otherwise moist-heat methods should be used. The bottom round can vary greatly in tenderness from one end of the cut to the other. It's usually cut into steaks (which are often CUBED) or the bottom round roast . The well-flavored eye of the round is the least tender muscle, although many mistakenly think otherwise because it looks like the TENDERLOIN. Both steaks and roasts from this cut require slow, moist-heat cooking. A cut that includes all four of these muscles is usually called round steak and those cut from the top (and which are of the best grades) can be cooked with dry heat. Near the bottom of the round is the toughest cut, the heel of the round. It's generally used for ground meat but can sometimes be found as a roast.

S to Z

The name applied to a family of sausages similar to CERVELATS. Both styles are uncooked but safe to eat without heating because they've been preserved by curing. Salamis, however, tend to be more boldly seasoned (particularly with garlic), coarser, drier and, unlike cervelats, rarely smoked. Salamis are usually air-dried and vary in size, shape, seasoning and curing process. Though they're usually made from a mixture of beef and pork, the KOSHER versions are strictly beef. Among the best-known Italian salamis are Genoa (rich, fatty and studded with white peppercorns) and cotto (studded with black peppercorns). The nonpork kosher salamis are cooked and semisoft. Italian-American favorites include Alesandri and Alpino. FRIZZES and PEPPERONI are also salami-type sausages. With the casing uncut, whole dry salamis will keep for several years. Once cut, they should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated for up to two weeks. Salami is best served at room temperature and can be eaten as a snack or as part of an ANTIPASTO platter, or chopped and used in dishes such as soups and salads.


modification of French salve, from Spanish salva sampling of food to detect poison, tray, from salvar to save, sample food to detect poison, from Late Latin salvare to save

skirt steak
Cut from the beef flank, the skirt steak is the diaphragm muscle (which lies between the abdomen and chest cavity). It's a long, flat piece of meat that's flavorful but rather tough. Properly cooked, skirt steak can be quite tender and delicious. It can either be quickly grilled, or stuffed, rolled and braised. Recently, skirt steak has become quite fashionable because of the delicious Southwestern dish, FAJITAS.

soft-shell clam; soft clam
This variety of clam actually has a thin, brittle shell. The soft-shell clam can't completely close its shell because of a long neck (or siphon) that extends beyond its edge. This long extension is why the soft-shell is also referred to as a long-neck clam. There are several types of soft-shells but the most prevalent are the STEAMER, RAZOR and GEODUCK CLAM.

soft-shell crab
A term describing a growth state of the crab, during which time it casts off its shell in order to grow one that's larger. Soon after the crab sheds its shell, its skin hardens into a new one. During those few days before the new shell hardens, these CRUSTACEANS are referred to as "soft-shell" crabs. In the United States, the blue crab (found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts) is the species most commonly eaten in its soft-shell state.

The French term for a steward or waiter in charge of wine. For hundreds of years, sommeliers were responsible for the cellaring and serving of wines for royalty. Eventually the tradition of the sommelier spread to restaurants, where such an individual is expected to have extensive knowledge of wines and their suitability with various dishes.

steak au poivre
[oh PWAHV-rh]
Steak that is covered with coarsely ground pepper before being sautéed or broiled. Steak au poivre is usually finished either by topping it with a chunk of sweet butter or by making a simple sauce from the pan drippings. Elaborate presentations often call for flaming (see FLAMBÉ) the steak with BRANDY. Also called pepper steak .

steamer clam
These East Coast soft-shell clams have a thin, brittle shell that doesn't close entirely due to the long, rubbery neck (siphon) extending from the body. Steamers are the smallest of the Atlantic soft-shell variety. They are, as their name indicates, delicious steamed. They're also suitable for batter-dipping and frying.

[taht-VAHN , , tahst-VAHN ]
A wine-tasting cup, usually worn on a chain or ribbon around the neck of a SOMMELIER.

T-bone steak
Cut from the center of the SHORT LOIN, this steak has a T-shaped bone that separates the small tenderloin section from the larger top loin. The porterhouse steak differs from the T-bone in that it contains a larger portion of the tenderloin.

[TRUHF-uhl, TROO-fuhl]
It's hard to believe that one of the rarest and most expensive foods in the world is located by pigs and dogs. This exceptional fungus grows 3 to 12 inches underground near the roots of trees (usually oak but also chestnut, hazel and beech), never beyond the range of the branches. The difficult-to-find truffle is routed out by animals that have been specially trained for several years. Pigs have keener noses, but dogs are less inclined to gobble up the prize. Once the truffle is found, the farmer (trufficulteur ) scrapes back the earth, being careful not to touch the truffle with his hands (which will cause the fungus to rot). If the truffle isn't ripe, it's carefully reburied for future harvesting. This methodically slow and labor-intensive harvesting method is what makes truffles so extremely expensive. Truffles have been prized by gourmets for centuries and were credited by the ancient Greeks and Romans with both therapeutic and aphrodisiac powers. A truffle has a rather unappealing appearance — round and irregularly shaped with a thick, rough, wrinkled skin that varies in color from almost black to off-white. Of the almost 70 known varieties, the most desirable is the black truffle, also known as black diamond , of France's Périgord and Quercy regions and the Umbria region of Italy. Its extremely pungent flesh is black (really very dark brown) with white striations. The next most popular is the white truffle (actually off-white or beige) of Italy's Piedmont region, with its earthy, garlicky aroma and flavor. Fresh imported truffles are available from late fall to midwinter in specialty markets. Choose firm, well-shaped truffles with no sign of blemishes. Truffles should be used as soon as possible after purchase but can be stored up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To take full advantage of their perfumy fragrance, bury them in a container of rice or whole eggs and cover tightly before refrigerating. The truffle fragrance will permeate the ingredients they're stored with, giving the cook a double-flavor bonus. Brush any surface dust off the truffle and peel the dark species (saving the peelings for soups). White truffles need not be peeled. Canned truffles, truffle paste in a tube and, to a limited extent, frozen truffles are also found in specialty stores. Dark truffles are generally used to flavor cooked foods such as omelets, POLENTAS, RISOTTOS and sauces, like the famous PÉRIGUEUX. The more mildly flavored white truffles are usually served raw by grating them over foods such as pasta or cheese dishes. They're also added at the last minute to cooked dishes. A special implement called a TRUFFLE SLICER can be used to shave off paper-thin slivers and slices of truffle. Dishes flavored or garnished with truffles are often referred to as À LA PÉRIGOURDINE.

varak; varaq
Edible, gossamer-thin sheets of pure silver or gold that for centuries have been popular decorations in India for special-occasion desserts, confections, nuts and rice dishes. Varak sheets, which are flavorless and odorless, can be found in Indian markets and cake decorating supply shops. The gold- and silver-leaf sheets usually come in packages of twenty-four, each section sandwiched between two sheets of paper. Varak sheets are so fragile that they dissolve easily with human touch and can be torn by the barest breath of air. For that reason, it's best to remove the top piece of paper from a sheet of varak and then invert the varak on top of the food to be decorated. The varak will stick to the food, and the paper can be peeled off. Varak will keep indefinitely if stored in an airtight container (to prevent tarnishing) in a cool, dry place. Also called vark.

veal Orloff
This classic presentation begins with a braised loin of veal carved into even horizontal slices. Each slice is spread with a thin layer of pureed sautéed mushrooms and onions. The coated slices are stacked back in place and tied together to reform the loin. Then the layered loin is smothered with additional mushroom-onion puree, topped with BÉCHAMEL SAUCE and grated Parmesan cheese and oven-browned for about 10 minutes.

veal Oscar; veal Oskar
Said to have been named in honor of Sweden's King Oscar II, who was especially partial to its ingredients, this dish consists of sautéed veal cutlets topped with crab or CRAYFISH meat and BÉARNAISE SAUCE. Veal Oscar is finished with a garnish of asparagus spears.

Waldorf salad
Created at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in the 1890s, the original version of this salad contained only apples, celery and mayonnaise. Chopped walnuts later became an integral part of the dish. Waldorf salad is usually served on top of a bed of lettuce.

Welsh rabbit; Welsh rarebit
This popular British dish consists of a melted mixture of CHEDDAR CHEESE, beer (sometimes ALE or milk) and seasonings served over toast. The cheese mixture can also be toasted on the bread. Welsh rabbit is usually served as a main course or for HIGH TEA, often accompanied with tomatoes. Welsh rabbit becomes a golden buck when topped with a poached egg.