25 of the most confusing food terms, defined

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A “crudo” is defined as “a dish of raw fish or seafood, typically dressed with oil, citrus juice, and seasonings.”
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Flickr/T.Tseng

We’ve all been there – you’re at a restaurant, unsure what to order because you have no idea what a particular menu item is.

Thankfully, restaurant reservation site OpenTable has made it easy to navigate these tricky terms. Together with Harris Poll, OpenTable surveyed more than 2,000 diners to find out their perspectives on confusing jargon on menus.

While 29% of surveyed diners said that menus are more complicated than they need to be, another 56% responded that they worried ordering a menu item with an unfamiliar ingredient would ruin their meal.

The surveyors also presented diners with a list of menu terms, asking them if they knew the meaning behind each one. OpenTable then defined the 25 most-misunderstood menu terms, which we’ve recreated here.

Feel free to impress your friends and order away, knowing exactly what to expect from the kitchen.


25. Cremeux — “Dense, soft, classic pudding.”

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Flickr/Lou Stejskal

Source: OpenTable


24. Terrine — “A French meat loaf dish, similar to pâté, made with more coarsely chopped ingredients.”

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Flickr/Katherine Lim

Source: OpenTable


23. Semifreddo — “A partially frozen Italian dessert.”

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Flickr/Dale Cruse

Source: OpenTable


22. Croustade — “French culinary term for a pie crust usually made of flaky or puff pastry.”

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Flickr/Charlyne

Source: OpenTable


21. Crudo — “A dish of raw fish or seafood, typically dressed with oil, citrus juice, and seasonings.”

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Yelp/Yun Z.

Source: OpenTable


20. Pavlova — “A dessert consisting of a meringue base or shell filled with whipped cream and fruit.”

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Lesya Dolyuk/Shutterstock

Source: OpenTable


19. Primi — “Where your main course begins (but shouldn’t end). The items in this category are likely to include pastas of all shapes, sizes, and names.”

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Bar Primi

Source: OpenTable


18. Amuse bouche — “Single, bite sized appetizer served according to the chef’s selection and not ordered from a menu by the diner.”

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Yelp/Yang Yang Z.

Source: OpenTable


17. Romesco — “In Spanish (especially Catalan) cookery: a piquant sauce of red peppers, nuts, garlic, and other ingredients.”

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Flickr/jules

16. Lardo — “A unique cured pork product produced in Italy. It is made from the thick layer of fat directly below the skin of a pig; the fat is carefully removed and cured in salt and spices so that it can be stored for extended periods of time.”

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Flickr/Steven Depolo

15. A la plancha — “(Of meat or fish) pan-fried or cooked on a griddle.”

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Flickr/waferboard

14. En papillote — “A method of cooking the food in a folded parcel, usually made from parchment paper.”

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Flickr/William Beutler

13. Meuniere — “(Especially of fish) cooked or served in lightly browned butter with lemon juice and parsley.”

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Flickr/Kimberly Vardeman

12. Patatas bravas — “A Spanish dish of sautéed potatoes in or with a spicy tomato sauce, frequently served as a tapa.”

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Flickr/leo gonzales

11. Harissa — “A North African spice mixture containing chilli, cumin, garlic, coriander and olive oil.”

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Flickr/jules

10. Ballotine — “A piece of roasted meat which has first been boned, stuffed, and folded or rolled into an egg-like shape.”

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Flickr/Audrey Jr.

9. En brodo — “A beef or vegetable stock that is often used on its own as a broth or as the base for sauces, stews and more.”

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Flickr/Geoff Peters

8. Shiso — “An Asian plant of the mint family used as a culinary herb.”

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Flickr/Takanori Ishikawa

7. Guanciale — “A type of Italian cured pork made from the cheeks of a pig.”

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Flickr/Jeffrey_Allen

6. Gougere — “A puff of choux pastry flavored with cheese (usually Gruyère), often stuffed with a savory filling.”

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Flickr/Joy

5. Bibimbap — “A Korean dish consisting of rice topped with sautéed vegetables, chili paste, and beef or other meat, sometimes with the addition of a raw or fried egg.”

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Flickr/Stacy Spensley

4. Yuzu — “A round, yellowish citrus fruit with fragrant, acidic juice, used chiefly as a flavoring.”

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Flickr/H. Alexander Talbot

3. Piri piri — “Portuguese term for hot chilies or the hot sauce made from them.”

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Flickr/T.Tseng

2. Gochujang — “A savory, spicy, and pungent fermented Korean condiment made from red chili, glutinous rice, fermented soybeans, and salt.”

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Flickr/egg (Hong, Yun Seon)

1. Okonomiyaki — “Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients.”

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Flickr/Dom Crossley

Source: OpenTable