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Can anyone recommend a good pocket sized menu decoder?

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While reading the menus RetiredMustang/Dave has posted on his Voyage of the Vikings live thread, I realize there are a lot of menu terms I don't understand. I have managed to learn that carpaccio means thin sliced raw meat and that Nicoise means it has black olives and anchovies. Other foreign terms leave me clueless. Ciliegine mozzarella and zucchini? White bean soup piemontese? Pumpkin and ricotta agnolotti? Boston pork buco?

 

While a HAL waiter can sometimes explain the dish, they sometimes say something as unhelpful as "It's good."

 

Is there a pocket glossary of dining terms? (I would not pull out a smart phone at the dinner table if I had one.)

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Larousse Gastronomique is one of the top printed food books on the planet - but it is not pocket sized.

Who knows, they may have an electronic version by now.

 

How can you find out?

 

Google is your friend - and it's free.

 

Google (and Larousse Gastronomique) can also help with spelling those perky terms, like "Bon Apetit"

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Deleted

 

 

 

 

Edited by JRG

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I just took a look at some of the menus after reading whogo's request -- my goodness there are a lot of French and Italian terms, particularly. 

 

I've studied Italian for six years and because I dine out frequently, my restaurant French is pretty good, but I can see that for those unfamiliar, the descriptions under the food items do not do a particularly good job of describing the item. They pre-suppose that you understand the terms.

 

To the OP's query specifically I have no good answer. But for those who DO have smart phones, this is one great use for them. Google translate has steadily improved through the years. If you type in a term, you do not even have to know what language it is -- the program can usually figure it out -- and it will give you the translation. 

 

There are a lot of good sources of information online -- often with pictures -- that explain at least some commonly encountered terminology for both French and Italian dishes. Perhaps OP could study some of these prior to cruising?

 

"Piemontese" means "in the Piedmont (a region of Italy) style. Anything with "-ese" at the end is generally the same, for example "Caprese" means "in the Capri style", or "Genovese" would be in the style of Genoa.  Spaghetti bolognese, a common menu item, means spaghetti with a sauce in the style of Bologna. 

 

Italy is really a country of very distinct regional styles, rather than a unified whole. Much of its cuisine is based on regional cooking rather than national dishes.

 

"Agnolotti" is a type of stuffed pasta, like a ravioli but usually a little lighter.

 

Edited by cruisemom42

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If you have any questions or doubts ask your steward. They are there for you and will be happy to help you out. Don't feel intimidated in any way. If you have questions about what dinnerware, silverware or glassware to use just ask. All of the staff on HAL is pretty wonderful.

 

Don't worry you'll have a wonderful time,

Michael

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I hope translating is worth your effort.  I’m no foodie but the menu descriptions seem a bit overwrought to me.  I sometimes ordered a dish based on an one of the listed ingredients, only to find that item virtually nonexistent.  Now I tend to pick dishes based on just the main item (eg the meat or fish).

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Thanks for the all the comments. I am not a picky eater. I have been happy with the ingredients in most everything I have ordered on Holland America, lamb with black olive gravy being a notable exception. I don't know if it would help me, don't know if I will buy it, the only pocket glossary I have found is this one: https://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Menu-France-Italy/dp/191002340X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

 

 

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You don't have to do your translating at the table. You can see menus in advance if you're on a ship with the interactive "Navigator" system. Or go old-school and stop by the MDR, where the menu should be posted somewhere near the doors.

 

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1 hour ago, SetAnOpenCourse said:

I hope translating is worth your effort.  I’m no foodie but the menu descriptions seem a bit overwrought to me.  I sometimes ordered a dish based on an one of the listed ingredients, only to find that item virtually nonexistent.  Now I tend to pick dishes based on just the main item (eg the meat or fish).

 

The tendency to have OTT descriptions/names for foods drives me crazy.

 

I don't remember which cruise it was, but I recently ordered a starter "apple walnut salad with frisee." Since apple and walnut were listed before the lettuce, I was expecting something like Waldorf salad on or next to a little bit of the lettuce. But no, it was lots of frisee (which I find annoying and awkward to eat) and a scattering of a few bits of walnut next to 4 or 5 paper-thin slices of apple. So why was the ingredient listed LAST the main ingredient???? It was actually frisee with an apple and walnut garnish.

 

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The pocket guides sound useful....to a certain extent. But looking at some of the HAL entrees, not all of the items are really "traditional" cuisine of the countries in question, but somewhat of an invention!

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I listen to the waiter recommendations & usually go with them.  They know what's good and what's not based on previous feedback.  If you don't like what you get, you can always have them bring something else.

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3 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

I just took a look at some of the menus after reading whogo's request -- my goodness there are a lot of French and Italian terms, particularly. 

 

I've studied Italian for six years and because I dine out frequently, my restaurant French is pretty good, but I can see that for those unfamiliar, the descriptions under the food items do not do a particularly good job of describing the item. They pre-suppose that you understand the terms.

 

To the OP's query specifically I have no good answer. But for those who DO have smart phones, this is one great use for them. Google translate has steadily improved through the years. If you type in a term, you do not even have to know what language it is -- the program can usually figure it out -- and it will give you the translation. 

 

There are a lot of good sources of information online -- often with pictures -- that explain at least some commonly encountered terminology for both French and Italian dishes. Perhaps OP could study some of these prior to cruising?

 

"Piedmontese" means "in the Piedmont (a region of Italy) style. Anything with "-ese" at the end is generally the same, for example "Caprese" means "in the Capri style", or "Genovese" would be in the style of Genoa.  Spaghetti bolognese, a common menu item, means spaghetti with a sauce in the style of Bologna. 

 

Italy is really a country of very distinct regional styles, rather than a unified whole. Much of its cuisine is based on regional cooking rather than national dishes.

 

"Agnolotti" is a type of stuffed pasta, like a ravioli but usually a little lighter.

 

I would bet that "Genovese" would mean some type of pesto, "Caprese" would be that typical tomato, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic involved, and "Bolognese" is good old tomato and meat sauce (I doubt HAL uses boar...).  Not having traveled in the Piedmont, I am not sure what typical item that would involve.   Oh - nicoise also has potato.   One of favorite salads - tuna, olives, potatoes, haricot verts, lettuces... yum!

 

I'm actually making some panzanella for my take-to-work dinner today - those cileigine mozz balls, cut up Kumamoto tomatoes, basil, old bread from the restaurant (the manager gives me a loaf once a week), and some balsamic.  I add an avocado just because I like avocado..

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Thanks, seachef318, that is just the ticket, available for Kindle, too. I downloaded a sample, aamsul (see kokam) to bacalao (the Spanish term for dried salt cod). It was fun just reading through the sample.

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My very first order on a ship was a shrimp cocktail, and even that was totally different from what I expected. (Google images of "shrimp cocktail" and "garnalencocktail" and you'll see that there's hardly any resemblance between the Dutch and apparently rest of the world version) 

 

I really wouldn't feel being treated like a child when the waiter would have a menu available with the same pictures as can been seen in the galley. A picture is worth a thousand words, and waiters have more to do.

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2 hours ago, cruisemom42 said:

The pocket guides sound useful....to a certain extent. But looking at some of the HAL entrees, not all of the items are really "traditional" cuisine of the countries in question, but somewhat of an invention!

 

Yes.  I think they are taking "fusion cuisine" to a whole new level -- sometimes successfully; sometimes not.

 

In August, DH and I actually got a kick out of re-reading the menu descriptions after we were served meals.

So creative -- both the descriptions and the ultimate creations!

 

We've had really good luck just asking the waiter, "What's good tonight?"  They know!

 

Still, it can't hurt to brush up on culinary terms.  I studied French, and that used to be very useful in deciphering menus.  That really isn't the case anymore.  I wish that I were more comfortable with Italian.

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28 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

I think they are taking "fusion cuisine" to a whole new level -- sometimes successfully; sometimes not.

 

In August, DH and I actually got a kick out of re-reading the menu descriptions after we were served meals.

So creative -- both the descriptions and the ultimate creations!

 

I agree with your thoughts.  I wish the culinary experts would get away from the fad of making a "tower" of the food that is plated.  This Summer on both the Westerdam and the Coral Princess there seemed to be a bit less of that happening as in the past. 

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32 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

I wish the culinary experts would get away from the fad of making a "tower" of the food that is plated. 

Yes! Yes, yes, yes, and yes! Why on earth can't a meal be plated properly, with the meat/fish to one side, potato to the other side, and vegetable above the potato. 

The way the chefs plate the food, all stacked one on top of another, makes it look more like the scrapings from the dishes after the meal is done. Most unappetizing. 

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1 hour ago, AncientWanderer said:

 

We've had really good luck just asking the waiter, "What's good tonight?"  They know!

 

 

The problem with doing this is that sometimes I don't want what the waiter recommends and then I have a dilemma -- let's say the waiter recommends the fish and I don't want it; if I order the beef instead, will it not be good?  Will I regret it?  Should I order the recommended dish, even if it wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice otherwise? :classic_unsure:

 

This is why I really do not like the idea of charging for a second entree. If I go with my first choice and it really isn't up to snuff, I won't be stressed because I know I could order something else in its place with no penalty.

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14 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

The problem with doing this is that sometimes I don't want what the waiter recommends and then I have a dilemma -- let's say the waiter recommends the fish and I don't want it; if I order the beef instead, will it not be good?  Will I regret it?  Should I order the recommended dish, even if it wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice otherwise? :classic_unsure:

 

I understand your dilemma.  I'd add another thought.  If I don't order what the waiter recommends, will he/she be offended?

 

Now, I politely listen--not very closely, I'll admit--to what the recommended entree of the evening is.  But, I'll order whatever it is that appeals to me for my dinner.  I do this whether I am in the MDR or a specialty restaurant aboard ship.

 

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, rkacruiser said:

 

I understand your dilemma.  I'd add another thought.  If I don't order what the waiter recommends, will he/she be offended?

 

Now, I politely listen--not very closely, I'll admit--to what the recommended entree of the evening is.  But, I'll order whatever it is that appeals to me for my dinner.  I do this whether I am in the MDR or a specialty restaurant aboard ship.

 

 

 

 

 

27 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

The problem with doing this is that sometimes I don't want what the waiter recommends and then I have a dilemma -- let's say the waiter recommends the fish and I don't want it; if I order the beef instead, will it not be good?  Will I regret it?  Should I order the recommended dish, even if it wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice otherwise? :classic_unsure:

 

This is why I really do not like the idea of charging for a second entree. If I go with my first choice and it really isn't up to snuff, I won't be stressed because I know I could order something else in its place with no penalty.

 

I'm always a little afraid it's what they've got to much of and the waiters are told to "push" that item. MANY years ago on QE2, I was walking around on the last day, taking pictures. I went into my dining room and a waiter approached me, so I said I was just going to take a few photos. And that was OK. While I was there, I got to hear the chef briefing the waiters. He said to push the fruit soup because they had a lot of whatever fruit it was left and he wanted to use it up.

 

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45 minutes ago, cruisemom42 said:

 

The problem with doing this is that sometimes I don't want what the waiter recommends and then I have a dilemma -- let's say the waiter recommends the fish and I don't want it; if I order the beef instead, will it not be good?  Will I regret it?  Should I order the recommended dish, even if it wouldn't have been my first (or second) choice otherwise? :classic_unsure:

 

This is why I really do not like the idea of charging for a second entree. If I go with my first choice and it really isn't up to snuff, I won't be stressed because I know I could order something else in its place with no penalty.

 

 

In actuality, the conversation goes more like, "How is the fish tonight?"  They never really say that it's bad, but the waiters are really good about suggesting an alternative, if they can't honestly recommend the fish.  More often than not, I kick myself if I ignore their advice!

 

The idea of charging for the second entree was on my mind a lot during our most recent cruise.  There were piles of plates at surrounding tables.  It was a bummer.  In fairness, portions were truly small, and I like a smallish portion.  I kind of wish there hadn't been so much opposition to the charge.  The cruise line always wins in the end.  They will make their profit.

 

But that's a dead horse and I probably shouldn't have brought it up here.

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2 minutes ago, AncientWanderer said:

 

 

In actuality, the conversation goes more like, "How is the fish tonight?"  They never really say that it's bad, but the waiters are really good about suggesting an alternative, if they can't honestly recommend the fish.  More often than not, I kick myself if I ignore their advice!

 

The idea of charging for the second entree was on my mind a lot during our most recent cruise.  There were piles of plates at surrounding tables.  It was a bummer.  In fairness, portions were truly small, and I like a smallish portion.  I kind of wish there hadn't been so much opposition to the charge.  The cruise line always wins in the end.  They will make their profit.

 

But that's a dead horse and I probably shouldn't have brought it up here.

 

No worries, the blame lies with me. 

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