Languages › French How to Read a French Menu Vocabulary Tips, Courses, Special Terms Share Flipboard Email Print Robert George Young / Getty Images French Vocabulary Pronunciation & Conversation Grammar Resources For Teachers by ThoughtCo Updated January 27, 2019 Reading the menu in a French restaurant can be a little tricky, and not just because of language difficulties. There may be important differences between restaurants in France and in your own country, including what foods are offered and how they are prepared. Types of menus Le menu and la formule refer to the fixed-price menu, which includes two or more courses (with limited choices for each) and is usually the least expensive way to eat out in France. The choices may be written on the ardoise, which literally means "slate." Ardoise can also refer to the specials board the restaurant might display outside or on a wall at the entrance. The sheet of paper or booklet that the waiter hands you (what English speakers call the "menu") is la carte, and anything you order from it is à la carte, which means "fixed-price menu." A couple of other important menus to know are: La carte des vins, which is the wine menuUne dégustation, which refers to a tasting menu, with small servings of multiple dishes (déguster means "to taste") Courses A French meal may include numerous courses, in this order: Un apéritif > cocktail, pre-dinner drinkUn amuse-bouche or amuse-gueule > snack (just one or two bites)Une entrée > appetizer/starter (false cognate alert: entree can mean "main course" in English)Le plat principal > main courseLe fromage > cheeseLe dessert > dessertLe café > coffeeUn digestif > after-dinner drink Special Terms In addition to knowing how French restaurants list their food items and prices, as well as the names of courses, you should also familiarize yourself with special food terms. Le plat du jour is the daily special (literally, "dish of the day"), which is usually part of le menu.Gratuit and offert both mean "free."The waiter will often add the word petit ("little") to his offer: Un petit dessert? Un petit café?When you're full, say: "Je n'en peux plus" or "J'ai bien/trop mangé." Other Terms To really feel comfortable ordering from the menu in a French restaurant, you'll need to learn a number of common terms. The list below includes almost all common terms you would need to know to impress your friends while ordering in French. The list is broken down by categories, such as food preparation, portions and ingredients, and even regional dishes. Food Preparation affiné aged artisanal homemade, traditionally made à la broche cooked on a skewer à la vapeur steamed à l'etouffée stewed au four baked biologique, bio organic bouilli boiled brûlé burnt coupé en dés diced coupé en tranches / rondelles sliced en croûte in a crust en daube in stew, casserole en gelée in aspic/gelatin farci stuffed fondu melted frit fried fumé smoked glacé frozen, icy, glazed grillé grilled haché minced, ground (meat) maison homemade poêlé panfried relevé highly seasoned, spicy séché dried truffé with truffles truffé de ___ dotted/speckled with ___ Tastes aigre sour amer bitter piquant spicy salé salty, savory sucré sweet(ened) Portions, Ingredients, and Appearance aiguillettes long, thin slices (of meat) aile wing, white meat aromates seasoning ___ à volonté (e.g., frites à volonté) all you can eat la choucroute sauerkraut crudités raw vegetables cuisse thigh, dark meat émincé thin slice (of meat) fines herbes sweet herbs un méli-mélo assortment un morceau piece au pistou with basil pesto une poêlée de ___ assorted fried ___ la purée mashed potatoes une rondelle slice (of fruit, vegetable, sausage) une tranche slice (of bread, cake, meat) une truffe truffle (very expensive and rare fungus) Typical French and Regional Dishes aïoli fish/vegetables with garlic mayonnaise aligot mashed potatoes with fresh cheese (Auvergne) le bœuf bourguignon beef stew (Burgundy) le brandade dish made with cod (Nîmes) la bouillabaisse fish stew (Provence) le cassoulet meat and bean casserole (Languedoc) la choucroute (garnie) sauerkraut with meat (Alsace) le clafoutis fruit and thick custard tart le coq au vin chicken in red wine sauce la crême brûlée custard with a burnt sugar top la crème du Barry cream of cauliflower soup une crêpe very thin pancake un croque madame ham and cheese sandwich topped with fried egg un croque monsieur ham and cheese sandwich une daube meat stew le foie gras goose liver ___ frites (moules frites, steak frites) ___ with fries/chips (mussels with fries/chips, steak with fries/chips) une gougère puff pastry filled with cheese la pipérade tomato and bell pepper omelet (Basque) la pissaladière onion and anchovy pizza (Provence) la quiche lorraine bacon and cheese quiche la (salade de) chèvre (chaud) green salad with goat cheese on toast la salade niçoise mixed salad with anchovies, tuna, and hard boiled eggs la socca baked chickpea crêpe (Nice) la soupe à l'oignon French onion soup la tarte flambée pizza with very light crust (Alsace) la tarte normande apple and custard pie (Normandy) la tarte tatin upside down apple pie Continue Reading How Has French Influenced English? 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