Deciphering French menus

Mar 12th, 2013, 02:07 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 3,745
Deciphering French menus

Some time ago I saw a Fodorite recommend a really good translation for French menus. Better than the index of any travel guide book.

Unfortunately, I did not bookmark that recommendation. Can anyone help? I really am not too adventursome i.e. calves brains, sweetbreads, pigeon, etc.

Thanks in advance
rncheryl is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 02:11 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2,996
It could have been the Marling Menu-Master for France. I've used the series in other countries.
Here is one past thread with much info, including recs for Marling Menu Master:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...pocketbook.cfm
yorkshire is online now  
Mar 12th, 2013, 02:13 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 448
The one we use is Marling Menu-Master. A very small pocket size booklet.
dgassa is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 02:20 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,451
If you can find it, the "What Kind of Food Am I?" for France is both excellent and witty. Also pocked-sized.
Underhill is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 02:29 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 92,032
It's easy enough to learn the words in French for fish, chicken, steak... whatever the things are you DO want to eat.
suze is online now  
Mar 12th, 2013, 02:31 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,800
"f you can find it, the What Kind of Food Am I? for France is both excellent and witty."

Does Anthony Newley sing the audio version?

maitaitom is online now  
Mar 12th, 2013, 03:45 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 4,238
I've used the MMM in the past, but find that a basic understanding, as suze says, for the type of food is just fine.

From there, a lot of what's said is the chef's interpretation.

You can probably pick up a copy at www.abebooks.com for next to nothing. Won't be new, but will be cheap.
Rastaguytoday is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 03:47 PM
  #8  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,092
I found the (free, downloadable) Patricia Wells menu reader invaluable:

http://www.patriciawells.com/glossary/
kja is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 03:56 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,882
I totally agree with kja. Patricia Wells explains how each dish might be prepared differently - depending on where you are in France. She also tells you that the same fish might be called a different name in a different region in France.

Invaluable!!!

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Mar 12th, 2013, 04:13 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,479
Ask your garcon (waiter)! It's France, after all, you can't go wrong.
aliced is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 04:41 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,577
I am also a fan of the "Eating and Drinking in France/What kind of food am I?" books. they fit in my purse and I could figure out almsot anything on a menu. Maybe not exact translations but easy enough to figure out what kind meat or sauce is on the dish. I'm kind of fussy eater - I don't like tomatoes, mushrooms and some other common foods so I always carried one of these books around with me. I hated being surprised with a plate full of something I didn't care for!
cls2paris is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 05:23 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,882
>> I hated being surprised with a plate full of something I didn't care for!<<

About 15 years ago, we went to a Michelin 2 star restaurant with our closest friends. The restaurant was on a lake and our male friend said that any fish in France is great and since we were next to a lake - the fish should be especially fresh. So he ordered what he thought was the local fish. They delivered a plate of raw calves liver to him.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Mar 12th, 2013, 05:29 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 110
If you have a smartphone, check into translation apps. We got WordLens for the iPhone for French. It translates written text into English and we plan to use it in restaurants amongst other things.
tarfan24 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 05:35 PM
  #14  
pdx
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,747
Ooh...so you can scan the menu and it will translate? That's a cool idea. I don't want to type the words in, but maybe I can surreptitiously wave my iphone over the menu.

In Italy I once ordered a red pepper dish and received a salted sardine. I wish I could remember what the word was that I mistook.
pdx is offline  
Mar 12th, 2013, 05:47 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,728
<>

Oh PUHLEEZE!!! It's been decades since any right-thinking person referred to a French waiter as "garçon." It's as rude as calling a waiter "boy" in America. Just don't go there!
StCirq is online now  
Mar 14th, 2013, 04:22 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,549
StCirq is right on. Any place that refers to its staff as "garcon" is trying to fool the tourists.
French menus speak their own dialects and words change from bistrot to brasserie to starred restaurant at the whim of the chefs -- a rascally breed, those chefs. I've gone out with French friends who were as baffled by a menu entry as me (and I landed a plate of calves' brains too.) On the bright side, you're eating French food, so where better to at least try to enjoy anything that shows up on your table.
Southam is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 05:28 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,168
The worst of all possible worlds is going someplace that thinks they are doing you a favor by giving you an English menu that is a computer translation from the local language.

We had this happen in Rome and spent a long time trying to figure out what "spiky lettuce" meant until we got an Italian menu and learned that it meant escarole.

The other advice is that the French word for "menu" is "carte", and "menu" means something else. You may get a quizzical look or two if you ask for one when you mean something else.
Ackislander is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 06:02 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,149
Oh, I know what you mean, Ackislander. Those English menus are useless. I always ask for a menu in the local language -- to find out what they really meant.

Last trip to France I loaded a French gastronomic dictionary on my Kindle. Sat at the restaurant table menu in hand looking up stuff. The waiter was amused.

To the OP, in France a menu is a fixed price meal of more than one course, maybe with some options. Usually very good and a good deal.
Mimar is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 07:33 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 21,608
They delivered a plate of raw calves liver to him.

I am extremely intrigued by this dish because raw calf's liver is not eaten in France to my knowledge. Can you elaborate on this dish, Stu?
kerouac is offline  
Mar 14th, 2013, 07:53 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,908
A translator will not work adequately for food menus--word to the wise. There are different usages, terms, etc. the Marling menu master is really good and well organized so you don't look like a dork trying to match up the wordings. Patricia Wells also has a glossary you can print off online.
I DID order liver in Avignon one time, and the menu wasn't translated, nor did our server speak English--and my French is spotty. He was VERY nice and concerned that I DID know I was ordering liver--interesting sign language explaining it!! And it was cooked!!
Gretchen is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:16 PM.