Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Word of the Day

New Word of the Day: poireau.

Lunch in the cafeteria is really pretty much like lunch in any university cafeteria. They may serve different things here in France, but the quality is pretty much the same. Generally I get whatever the main dish of the day is, unless it just looks too awful (or I have tried it unsuccessfully) and then I get a steak-frites from the grill. A steak-frites is a plate overflowing with fries with a grilled hamburger patty. They cook it until it might maybe be liberally called medium-rare, so I don't get it often. Anyway, yesterday was a day in which I was willing to get the main dish of the day, noodles and two slices of ham. I chose not to get what I originally thought was green beans. I love green beans, but many years of eating school lunches has taught me to avoid them in cafeteria situations. However, one of my lab friends, Victor, got them and said what do you call these in English?

On closer inspection I could see they were not in fact cut-up green beans, and I had to admit I had no idea what they were. He tried to explain.

Victor: They're vegetables.
Me: Not any vegetable my mother cooked.
Victor: They're white on the bottom and the top is green leaves.
Me: Gee, that narrows it down.

Thus we turned to The Great Google. Google translate failed us though. All it gave us was that the french poireau is poireau in english. Liars. Maybe British english, but that is not a word I am familiar with in American English. We turned to Wikipedia knowing it would at least give us a picture.

photo by Philippe.OSSWALD
Leeks. Thank you Alton Brown for teaching what they look like. I was right, my mother has never cooked leeks. Not a common veggie in American school cafeterias. Maybe next time they serve them I might be brave enough to give them a shot, but frankly they really didn't look that great.


  1. No I have never cooked Leeks, they look like giant green onions.

  2. They're in the same family as onions and garlic. Again, thank you Alton Brown.