Some ‘delicious’ words from a six-course Valentine’s meal!

15 Feb

I can’t move.  After a six-course Valentine’s meal last night at the fabulous Pheasant in Keyston, even 12 hours on, I still feel stuffed.

The menu sounded heavenly – even though I didn’t understand all the words on it!

We started with an ‘amuse bouche’ of salted cod, which was wonderfully clean and crisp tasting.  Given that ‘bouche’ is the French for ‘mouth’, then this ‘amuse bouche’ did just want it said on the tin and whet our appetites for what was to come.

The next course consisted of lamb sweetbreads.  I had to look up what a sweetbread was as we weren’t sure what part of the lamb we were eating!  The OED describes ‘sweetbread’ as being: The pancreas, or the thymus gland, of an animal, esp. as used for food

The etymology of the word seems unclear – why sweet? why bread? – but it has been in use since the mid-16th century, with its first recorded use appearing in a Thesaurus of 1565:  Animellæ, the sweete breade in a hogge.

We then had oyster nage with cucumber linguine.  Again, I had to look up ‘nage’.  In Middle English, this word used to mean ‘buttocks’ – but Wikipedia is a little more helpful, and suggests it’s a flavoured liquid in which you’d poach delicate food, like an oyster.

The word derives from the French verb ‘nager’ – to swim.  So my little oysters are swimming in the broth as they’re being poached.

We went on to eat the most heavenly Beef Wellington, accompanied by pomme dauphinoise.  I’d always assumed that the latter dish was somehow connected to the Dauphin, which is the French term for the heir to the throne (or the equivalent of the Prince of Wales).  Perhaps a little more prosaically, the dish comes from (and derives its name from) the Dauphine area of France, close to the Italian border.

After the Beef Wellington, we managed a cheese course featuring a walnut ‘sable’.  Again, I was thankful to have my phone at hand!  I decided that there was an acute apostrophe missing and the word was actually ‘sablé’ – a round shortbread biscuit that comes from Normandy.  (This was what was on the plate in front of us).   I assume there may be a connection with the French word ‘sable’ (sand) – perhaps because of the colour or texture of the biscuit.

Finally, we somehow managed to find room for our dessert – many chocolate-y things on a plate.  Yum.  On the menu, it listed ‘cherry griottine’ – which seemed to be a word for cherries soaked in alcohol.  And boy did those cherries pack a punch!


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