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What's Cooking?

The mention of French cuisine conjures up images of mouthwatering food prepared with loving care. How do ordinary French people manage to produce delicious meals every day? One of the key ingredients to success is how you cook the food. In this lesson, you will learn various expressions associated with cuire (cooking). À vos fourneaux! (Let’s get cooking!)

 

As mentioned earlier, the generic verb for “cooking” is cuire. In the video below, JB explains how he prefers to cuire ses légumes ensemble (cook his vegetables together) for his ratatouille:

 

En effet selon certaines traditions il faut les cuire séparément ou tous ensemble. Moi, je préfère les cuire tous ensemble.

Indeed, according to certain traditions, you have to cook them separately or all together. As for me, I prefer to cook them all together

Captions 16-18, JB La ratatouille

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As for Lucette, who is making apricot jam, she uses the expression faire cuire, which means the same thing as cuire (to cook):

 

Dans le temps, on les faisait cuire dans la bassine en cuivre,

In past times, we used to cook them in a copper basin,

Caption 6, Lucette La confiture d'abricots

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Lucette puts her apricots in une cocotte de cuisson (a cooker), a kind of Dutch oven for slow cooking: 

 

Je vais les mettre dans la cocotte de cuisson.

I'm going to put them in the cooker.

Caption 30, Lucette La confiture d'abricots

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On its own, the verb mettre usually means “to put," but mettre à cuire is yet another equivalent to cuire and faire cuire. Having said that, note that in the context of the video below, mettre à cuire departs from its usual meaning and translates as “to bake” since it’s implied that the food is going in the oven:

 

Et nous allons la mettre à cuire

And we're going to bake it

Caption 89, Christian Le Squer Comment cuisiner les figues

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In fact, there is no concise French equivalent of the verb “to bake”! You have to say cuire/faire cuire au four (literally, “to cook in the oven”). Watch JB bake a delicious Mirabelle plum tart in the video below:

 

Il s'agit de la faire cuire au four

It's a matter of baking it in the oven

Caption 36, JB La tarte aux mirabelles

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On the other hand, the verb enfourner is much more concise than its English translation, “to put/load into the oven." This skilled baker is going to enfourner les madeleines (put the madeleines in the oven):

 

Steven va à présent enfourner les madeleines.

Steven is now going to put the madeleines in the oven.

Caption 57, Lionel L'usine de madeleines de Liverdun - Part 2

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Then again, English has a verb for “steaming,” which doesn’t exist in French. You have to use the construction cuire + noun + à la vapeur (literally, “to cook with steam”):

 

Cuire les légumes à la vapeur permet de conserver les vitamines.

Steaming vegetables helps preserve vitamins.

 

Not only can you use the verb cuire to talk about steaming and baking, but you can also cuire at various temperatures: à feu doux (on low heat) or à feu vif (on high heat):

 

Tout dépend de la chaleur du feu; il faut toujours le faire à feu doux.

It all depends on the stove temperature; it always has to be done on low heat.

Caption 40, Alsace 20 Grain de Sel: Au Caveau de l'étable à Niederbronn-les-Bains

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Je fais revenir le tout à feu vif pendant trois minutes.

I brown everything over high heat for three minutes.

Caption 24, JB La ratatouille

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After browning (faire revenir) everything, JB turns down the heat to mijoter (simmer) his ratatouille:

 

Je laisse encore mijoter pour une quinzaine de minutes.

I let it simmer again for fifteen minutes or so.

Captions 38-39, JB La ratatouille

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You'll often see mijoter or its synonym, mitonner, in the expression mijoter/mitonner de bons petits plats, which translates as “cooking up nice little dishes." Yet no expression in English quite conveys the love, care, and time that goes into mijoter/mitonner des bons petits plats, which is exactly what the chef and his staff are doing in the video below:

 

En effet, le chef et l'équipe de cuisine s'emploient à leur mitonner de bons petits plats chaque jour.

Indeed, the chef and the kitchen staff are working on cooking up nice little dishes for them every day.

Caption 22, TV Tours Défendre les fromages au lait cru

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If spending hours in the kitchen is not for you, you can resort to le micro-ondes (the microvave). The grandmother in the video below needs a little technical help with son micro-ondes (her microwave):

 

Rien... savoir comment marcher le micro-ondes.

Nothing... just how to work the microwave.

Caption 66, Le Jour où tout a basculé Mes grands-parents sont infidèles - Part 7

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The word “microwave” only exists as a noun in French. If you want “to microwave," you have to again resort to the construction cuire + noun: cuire/faire cuire au micro-ondes (literally, "to cook in the microwave”):

 

Faire cuire au micro-ondes 5 à 10 minutes suivant la puissance du four. Mélanger.

Microwave for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the oven. Mix.

 

In conclusion, whatever cooking method you may prefer, you’re likely to use the verb cuire (to cook). Yabla cooking videos will help you mijoter de bons petits plats (cook up nice little dishes) while learning French. Thank you for spending time in our Yabla “kitchen”! Stay tuned for another lesson on kitchen-related vocabulary. 

 

À vos fourneaux! (Get cooking!)

 

Vocabulary

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