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Culinary name

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Culinary names, menu names, or kitchen names are names of foods used in the preparation or selling of food, as opposed to their names in agriculture or in scientific nomenclature. The menu name may even be different from the kitchen name. For example, from the 19th until the mid-20th century, many restaurant menus were written in French and not in the local language.

Examples include veal (calf), calamari (squid), and sweetbreads (pancreas or thymus gland). Culinary names are especially common for fish and seafood, where multiple species are marketed under a single familiar name.


Foods may come to have distinct culinary names for a variety of reasons:

  • Evocation of a specific culinary tradition
    • Shrimp in Italian-American contexts is often called scampi
    • Florentine refers to dishes that include spinach
    • Squid is often called by its Italian name, calamari, on menus[10]
  • Other
    • In French, chestnuts are called châtaignes on the tree, but marrons in the kitchen
    • "Laver" is a culinary name for certain edible algae,[11] usually species of Porphyra such as Porphyra umbilicalis, although "green laver" may refer to species of Monostroma or Ulva; species of Ulva are also known as "sea lettuce"
    • Truita de patata (lit. 'potato trout') in Catalan cuisine, a potato omelette: "if you don't catch a trout, you've got to have something more humble for dinner -- something to pretend is a trout".[12]
    • Cappon magro (lit. 'fast-day capon'), a seafood salad

Humor and ethnic dysphemism[edit]

Humorous exaltation often takes the form of a dysphemism disparaging particular groups or places.[13] It has been observed that "Celtic dishes seem to receive more than their share of humorous names in English cookbooks".[14] Many of these are now considered offensive.[15] See List of foods named after places for foods named after their actual place of origin.

  • Welsh rabbit, melted cheese on toast. "Welsh" was probably used as a pejorative dysphemism,[13] meaning "anything substandard or vulgar",[16] and suggesting that "only people as poor and stupid as the Welsh would eat cheese and call it rabbit",[17][18] or that "the closest thing to rabbit the Welsh could afford was melted cheese on toast".[19] Or it may simply allude to the "frugal diet of the upland Welsh".[20]
  • Welsh caviar, laverbread, made of seaweed;[21]
  • Essex lion, veal;[22]
  • Norfolk capon, kipper;[22]
  • Irish apricot, apple, grape, lemon, plum, etc., potato;[22][15]
  • Scotch woodcock, scrambled eggs and anchovies on toast;[23]
  • Dutch goose, a stuffed pig's stomach in Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine;[24]
  • French goose, a kind of sausage stew;[24]
  • English monkey, melted cheese with breadcrumbs soaked in milk, served on toast or crackers;[25]
  • Albany beef, Hudson River sturgeon used as a substitute for beef.[26][27]
  • Sea kitten, fish. A renaming proposed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in the hope of dissuading people from eating fish, by likening fish to appealing companion animals.[28][29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. 'testicles'
  2. ^ Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh; Corbin, Pam; Diacono, Mark; Duffy, Nikki; Fisher, Nick; Lamb, Steven; Maddams, Tim; Meller, Gill; Wright, John (2016-12-15). River Cottage A to Z: Our Favourite Ingredients, & How to Cook Them. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4088-6365-7. s.v. 'sweetbreads'
  3. ^ "Fancy a slice of australus?". The Mail & Guardian. 2005-12-20. Retrieved 2023-01-16.
  4. ^ "Chinese gooseberry becomes kiwifruit: 15 June 1959". New Zealand History. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 9 June 2020. Retrieved 2023-01-16.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b Smith, Ronald D. (2020-11-11). Strategic Planning for Public Relations. Routledge. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-000-20136-9.
  6. ^ from a Provencal word for roosters' testicles, but homonymous with 'puppy love' Le petit Robert
  7. ^ Andre Simon, A concise encyclopedia of gastronomy, s.v.
  8. ^ Thompson, Megan (2019-01-29). ""If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em": University of Illinois serves invasive Asian carp for dinner". PBS Newshour. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  9. ^ Castrodale, Jelisa (2022-06-22). "What Is Copi? A New Name for an Invasive Fish". Food & Wine. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  10. ^ Wayne Gisslen, Professional Cooking, p. 446
  11. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, s.v.
  12. ^ Andrews, Colman (1997). Catalan Cuisine: Europe's Last Great Culinary Secret. p. 58. ISBN 1909808369.
  13. ^ a b Eric Partridge, Words, Words, Words!, 1939, republished as ISBN 1317426444 in 2015, p. 8
  14. ^ Palmatier, Robert Allen (2000). Food: A Dictionary of Literal and Nonliteral Terms. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. s.v. 'Scotch woodcock'. ISBN 978-0-313-31436-0.
  15. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary. June 2022. pp. s.v. 'Irish' A.5.b.
  16. ^ Kate Burridge, Blooming English: Observations on the Roots, Cultivation and Hybrids of the English Language, ISBN 0521548322, 2004, p. 220
  17. ^ Robert Hendrickson, The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, 1997, as quoted in Horn, "Spitten image"
  18. ^ cf. "Welsh comb" = "the thumb and four fingers" in Francis Grose, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1788, as quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. 'Welsh'
  19. ^ Roy Blount Jr., Alphabet Juice, 2009, ISBN 1429960426, s.v. 'folk etymology'
  20. ^ Meic Stephens, ed., The Oxford companion to the literature of Wales, 1986, s.v., p. 631
  21. ^ Ole G. Mouritsen, Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable, 2013, ISBN 022604453X, p. 150
  22. ^ a b c E.B. Tylor, "The Philology of Slang", Macmillan's Magazine, 29:174:502-513 (April 1874), p. 505
  23. ^ Laurence Horn, "Spitten image: Etymythology and Fluid Dynamics", American Speech 79:1:33-58 (Spring 2004), doi:10.1215/00031283-79-1-33 full text
  24. ^ a b Allen, Gary (2015-09-15). Sausage: A Global History. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1-78023-555-4.
  25. ^ Hill, Janet McKenzie (1898). The Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics. Boston Cooking-School Magazine. p. 57.
  26. ^ Palmatier, Robert Allen (2000). Food: A Dictionary of Literal and Nonliteral Terms. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. s.v. 'beefeater'. ISBN 978-0-313-31436-0.
  27. ^ "Oxford English Dictionary". www.oed.com. Retrieved 2022-08-14., s.v. 'Albany beef'
  28. ^ "What's a Sea Kitten? Look It Up!". PETA. 2010-05-06. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  29. ^ Ibrahim, Nur (2022-04-19). "Did PETA Try To Rename Fish 'Sea Kittens'?". Snopes. Retrieved 2023-01-20.


  • "Culinary terminology" in Oxford Companion to Food, 1st edition, s.v.
  • Andre Simon, A concise encyclopedia of gastronomy mentions 16 different 'culinary names' passim