100 Culinary Terms To Help You Talk, And Cook, A Lot Smarter

So you think you know the real meaning of "spa" and "mother?" Think again. Food Republic is here to help brush up your kitchen vocabulary with a composite of 100 of our best Words of the Day. Click on a word to view the entire definition, with a suggestion on how to best use it in the kitchen. Oh, and be sure to add some hawaij or epazote the next time you jaccart your fresh batch of nutraceutical chewettes.


Abattoir (n.) – A slaughterhouse.

Agemono (n.) – The Japanese culinary term for that which is fried.

Albumen (n.) – Another name for "egg white."

Anadromous (adj.) – Describing fish ascending rivers from the sea for breeding.


Bagoong (n.) – A fish sauce condiment traditionally found in the Philippines.

Beitzah (n.) – Another name for a hard-boiled egg.

Bokashi (n.) – An ancient Japanese "no-odor" composting method.

Burbot (n.) – A slimy, eel-shaped fish that goes by many names.

Butterfly (v.) – To slice a cut of meat lengthwise in order to cook without drying out.


Carboy (n.) – A huge glass jar that holds fermenting brew made at home.

Champ (n.) – A dish made with potatoes, milk, butter and chopped scallions.

Chesty (adj.) – Used to describe tea that has been improperly packed or stored.

Chewettes (n.) – Medieval talk for small meat pies.

Cleptobiosis (n.) – An act of stealing food from the same species.


Danderfunk (n.) – A pudding made by sailors using crumbled crackers and molasses.

Devein (v.) – To remove the dark dorsal vein (as in shrimp).

Donabe (n.) – A Japanese pot made out of clay used over an open flame.

Dulse (n.) – A kind of dried seaweed flake snack food in some parts of the UK and Europe.


Ebrious (adj.) – Inclined to drink in excess, tipsy.

Epazote (n.) – A Mexican herb with a robust taste and a gasoline-esque odor.

Escabeche (n.) – A spicy marinade made from vinegar, onions, peppers and spices.

Exocarp (n.) – A fruit's outermost shell, skin or otherwise protective layer.


Farctate (n.) – The process of overeating and feeling stuffed.

Fatback (n.) – The flavorful layer of fat along the backside of a pig.

Food Desert (n.) – A place where fresh, healthy food is unaffordable or inaccessible.

Foxy (adj.) – Used to describe wine with a musky flavor.

Frogmore (n.) – A seasoned stew made with potatoes, sausage, corn and shrimp.


Gastropod (n.) – A family of mollusks consisting of a shell and a single muscle.

Gavage (n.) – The method of force-feeding to fatten an animal and enrich its liver.

Grissini (n.) – A long, thin piece of crisp, toasted bread typically served with pasta.

Guanciale (n.) – A type of Italian bacon prepared with pig's jowl or cheeks.

Guar Gum (n.) – A natural food thickener, similar to cornstarch.


Hard Crack Stage (n.) – A candy-making stage when the sugar mixture reaches 310°F.

Hawaij (n.) – A Yemeni spice blend used on a variety of fish, meat and lamb dishes.

Haystack (n.) – A dish made up of starchy foods with fresh vegetables and protein.

Hoki (n.) – A coldwater fish typically found in European markets.

Hootenanny (n.) – An easy-to-make puffy pancake, perfected by the Amish.


Irradiation (n.) – A process of exposing food to ionizing radiation to control bacteria.

Isinglass (n.) – A form of gelatin derived from the air bladders of sturgeon.


Jaccart (v.) – To pierce a piece of meat with a needle to tenderize it.

Jaggery (n.) – A natural sweetener made by crystallizing sugar cane juice.

Jamun (n.) – A berry found in India that changes from green to pink to black.

Jeroboam (n.) – A large bottle of wine, otherwise known as the "double magnum."

Jicama (n.) – A crisp, sweet root cultivated in South America for centuries.


Kipper (v.) – To cure small, oily fish (typically herring).

Kishke (n.) – A Jewish dish that translates to "intestine."

Kissing Crust (n.) – When a loaf remains soft due to its baking proximity to another.

Knolselderijstamppot (n.) – A Dutch dish with mashed potatoes and celery root.

Kumis (n.) – A beverage made of fermented mare's milk native to Central Asia.


Lactobacillus (n.) – A type of bacteria that causes decomposition or fermentation.

Lame (n.) – A baking tool used to allow baking baguettes to expand lengthwise.

Locule (n.) – A seed compartment, usually in an ovary of a fruit.

Lovage (n.) – A plant whose leaves are used as herbs and the roots as vegetables.


Mannish Water (n.) – Jamaican soup with goat offal, green bananas and vegetables.

Marlborough Pie (n.) – One of the oldest "all-American" pies, served at Thanksgiving.

Mother (n.) – A substance that develops in fermenting liquid.

Muffaletta (n.) – A type of submarine sandwich originating in New Orleans.

Mugwort (n.) – A bitter, hoppy flavoring agent used in dishes in Europe and Asia.


Nappe (n.) – The ability of a liquid to "coat the back of a spoon."

Nougat (n.) – Candy made from nuts, honey, sugar and egg whites.

Nutraceutical (adj.) – Used to describe foods proven to provide health benefits.


Oenophile (n.) – A lover of wine, also known as a wine "connoisseur" or "aficionado."

Omakase (n.) – Phrase meaning "I'll leave it to you," allowing the chef to choose the fish you're served at a sushi restaurant.

Omuraisu (n.) – A Japanese rice omelet served with ketchup.

Ort (n.) – A scrap of food left over from a meal.


Parson's Nose (n.) – The triangular stub where tail-feathers grow on poultry.

Pizza Peel (n.) – Giant flat utensil used to transfer pizza to and from baking stone.

Potlikker (n.) – The liquid left behind after boiling a pot of collard greens.

Pozole (n.) – Soup or stew traditionally made in Latin America that means "foamy."

Psito (n.) – The Greek method for roasting meat in the oven.


Quadriller (n.) – Marking the surface of foods on the grill with a crisscross pattern.

Quenelle (n.) – A three-sided scoop of something soft enough to mold.


Raclette (n.) – A traditional Swiss dish best known as "fondue" in the U.S.

Reinheitsgebot (n.) – The "German Beer Purity Law," which originated in 1516.

Rennet (n.) – A combination of enzymes often used in the production of cheese.

Ristra (n.) – An arrangement of dry chilies, usually hung by string.

Rosewater (n.) – The by-product of distilling rose petals and water for perfume and food and drink flavoring.


Shigging (n.) – Standing near a cook with intentions of stealing cooking techniques.

Sippets (n.) – Small cubes of bread fried with herbs and butter used to garnish soup.

Spa (n.) – Heavily used in Boston, translates to "soda fountain."

Spider (n.) – Also known as a "skimmer." A flat mesh basket used with a deep-fryer.

Sweetmeats (n.) – Another name for "candy."


Tasso (n.) – Spicy cured pork cut into strips.

Teff (n.) – The world's tiniest grain, from Ethiopia. Full of protein, iron and calcium.

Tobiko (n.) – The Japanese word for "flying fish roe."

Trussing (n.) – The process of tying meat with butcher's twine to keep it uniform.

Tsoureki (n.) – A sweet, egg-enriched bread that is a staple of Greek cuisine.


Ultra-Pasteurized (adj.) – Describes milk or cream heated very high, then cooled.


Varak (n.) – Edible thin sheets of pure silver and gold used for dessert decoration.

Vegucate (v.) – To understand what it takes to be a vegan.

Velouté (n.) – White sauce thickened by cream and butter. A French "mother sauce."

Viticulture (n.) – The study and practice of cultivating grapes.


Weakfish (n.) – A fish named for its inability to intimidate or beat up any other fish.

Winnowing (n.) – The process of separating grain from chaff.

Wort (n.) – The sweet liquid product of mashed grains (i.e. unfermented beer).

Wurstvergiftung (n.) – German word that translates to "sausage poisoning."


Xerophagy (n.) – A type of fast in which one eats only dry foods with no cooking oils.

Xylitol (n.) – A 100% natural sweetener extracted from bark, fruits and vegetables.


Yumasetta (n.) – A casserole of ground beef, canned soup, noodles and Velveeta.


Zester (n.) – A kitchen appliance used to remove the outer part of citrus fruit peel.

Zwieback (n.) – A dry toasted slice of bread that means "twice-baked" in German.