Chefspeak

I usually find myself watching Saturday Kitchen (BBC's cookery programme) often while cooking myself. It's quite soothing, chopping things and half heartedly watching somebody else doing the same thing only much more efficiently. Occasionally though - it happened this morning - the linguistic quirks peculiar to chefs really get to me. It's the phrasal verbs - boil off, reduce down, why use one perfectly good word when two will do? - that irritate - as well as all those peculiar usages such as 'pan fry' (what other way is there to fry something? Well, I suppose you might count frying eggs on shovels or bacon on the boiler plates of engines.) and then there's the use of spurious words like 'jus' when there's a perfectly good English word available in 'gravy'.
And while I'm at it, there are other conventions. Meat is always described as 'rare' when any normal diner might label it 'raw' with the blood oozing onto the plate. Sprouts (of which I'm quite fond) are so undercooked that you just know it will be like chewing a mouthful of marbles. I've only seen one chef over all my years of watching cookery programmes admitting that he actually liked slightly overcooked sprouts - not, of course, boiled to within an inch of their lives but buttery rather than crunchy. Brave man. And while I'm in complaining mode, why does Masterchef have to show us the appalling sight of those two middle aged guys stuffing food into their mouths and chewing, in deeply nasty close-up. Yeuch. But I'm straying well away from literary territory here and into visual horrors.
Gary Rhodes. He's the best. He could make anything, even raw meat, seem madly appetising.

Comments

Amber Fraley said…
I think "pan fry" means to fry in a frying pan with a bit of oil as opposed to "deep frying" which is immersing something in hot oil. If one simply uses the word "fry" it could be mistaken for "deep frying." 'Course, I'm an American, so maybe that wording doesn't translate.

I know what you mean about redundancy, though. I get so tired of hearing "but yet" and other phrases.
Hi Amber, I take your point, but maybe it's an interesting distinction between the two countries - I think we tend to use 'fry' for things like eggs and bacon and 'deep fry' for the other process (eg for fish and chips) in the UK!
Amber Fraley said…
Nah, you're right, it's pretty much the same in both countries. :)