My wife and I spent years in the addictive grip of Food Network. That Chunky Monkey on our backs is finally getting supplanted by The Travel Channel, but we still record at least two hours of cooking shows a week on our DVR (Cutthroat Kitchen and Top Chef). In that time, I've learned a number of useful cooking terms that make me sound as if I can cook, which I sort of can. My wife is a wonderful cook, which is part of the reason we're gaining weight faster than a black hole in a meteor shower.
So. For your entertainment and edification, your..."entification" if you will, I offer the following useful glossary. Feel free to consult it any time you're watching a cooking show and wonder what the judges really mean.
acidity: lemon juice.
amuse bouche ("amuse boosh"): appetizer.
artisanal ("ar-TEEZ'n'l"): expensive.
Asian-inspired: containing soy sauce.
aubergine ("OH-ber-zheen"): eggplant.
authentic: made the way your vaguely ethnic grandmother used to make it, no matter how lousy a cook she was.
beignet ("ben-YAY"): doughnut hole.
brunoise ("broon-WAHZ"): finely diced vegetables.
cheftestant: this is not a word. Never say it.
CIA: a cooking school which teaches its students how to spy on more experienced chefs.
confit ("kohn-FEE"): meat suspended in its own congealed fat.
crème fraîche ("krem fresh" or "sour creem"): sour cream.
deconstructed: presented in an empowering "mix it yourself--what am I, a chef?" form.
Did you taste this?: a rhetorical question meaning, "Why does this taste like a bucket of mustard and taints?"
emulsion: salad dressing.
en papillote ("ahn poppy-OAT"): baked in paper.
falling off the bone: overcooked.
five spice: a blend of up to sixteen spices, preservatives, and unreadable Chinese packaging.
flank steak: a cow's groin muscles.
flavor profile: taste.
fleur de sel: expensive salt.
fondant: cake Spackle.
foodie: fat snob.
food blogger: fat snob with an Internet account and a smartphone camera.
gastropub: a bar with food and hipsters.
gluten: a protein which gives food a quality referred to as "edibility." Gluten causes an allergic reaction in 1 out of 133 Americans, or 1 in 3 Washingtonians.
gnocchi ("nyoh-kee"): dumpling.
gremolata: garlic, lemon, and parsley.
home cook: cook jealous of trained chefs.
kimchi: spoiled cabbage.
locally sourced: procured from some dude's yard.
Michelin star: where the rubber hits the road. Pronounced "mee-sh'lan star" if you have one, "foo foo" if you don't.
mirepoix ("mir-pwah"): a sautéed mix of carrots, celery, and onions used to make the kitchen smell as if someone really talented were cooking in it.
organic: composed solely of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and farm subsidies.
quinoa ("keen-wah" or "no thanks, I'm vegan"): an allegedly edible grain.
sustainable: not quite genocidal.
unctuous: fatty or oily. Used as a compliment when describing food, not so much when describing the chef.