Research: Food Terminology #2

Thursday, January 12, 2017
Another upscale meal, another menu full of terminology that was either completely foreign to me, or that I'd heard of, but wanted to get a more precise understanding of. Let's tiptoe up to these advanced food concepts and enrich our culinary knowledge! First, let’s run through a few quick ones that may be unfamiliar to more timid eaters:

Brioche: A bread of French origin that is sometimes also referred to as a pastry, due to its high egg and butter content.

Aioli: An emulsion (like mayo), made of a base of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and egg yolks. An additional flavor is usually added (lemon aioli, basil aioli, etc.)

Mascarpone: A soft, easily-spreadable Italian cheese made from cream, coagulated by the addition of citric acid or acetic acid. When referring to mascarpone, please do not say "MAR-sca-pone".

Sweetbreads: The glands (usually thymus and/or pancreas) traditionally from a calf or lamb, though the term has expanded to cover more glands from more types of animals.

Tartare: A general term for dishes including raw meat or fish.

Now, let’s talk about some of the components of this particular meal that you probably don’t run across as often:

Arancini: Originating in Sicily, arancini are stuffed rice balls which are coated with breadcrumbs and fried. Generally, they are filled with meat sauce, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Peas are also a popular arancini stuffing. Naturally, there are countless variants. The one that inspired this entry was a squid ink arancini, which was wonderful.

Chouquette: Similar to a cream puff, chouquettes are a light, baked pastry, usually filled with a custard or mousse, and sprinkled with pearl sugar on top. The one we got for this meal was far bigger than a traditional chouquette, did away with the pearl sugar, and had a filling that utilized some pretty boozy eggnog.

Cardoon: Also called “artichoke thistle”. Native to the Mediterranean region, it belongs to a plant family that also includes globe artichokes. This meal included the buds, but the leaf stalks are also often eaten after being steamed or braised. Several popular soups and stews in Spain and Italy call for cardoon.

Sabayon: A light, airy custard that originated in Italy. As with a lot of foreign words, it has several spelling variants (zabaione, zabajone, zabaglione). It's made with egg yolks, sugar, and Marsala wine, and is usually served as dessert. This version was included in the main portion of the meal, incorporated pumpkin, and was served on pasta.

Tortelli: A square-shape filled pasta, similar to ravioli. It's tortellini's big brother, and there is actually a special type served in the Apuan region of Italy that once was only cooked on Shrove Tuesday. This one was a lot less restrictive, and was served di zucca (with pumpkin).