Words to avoid: Tartar

Raw meat and eggs will be delivered to your plate if you order Tartar. It’s a rather innocuous word, kind of funny and inviting. Vegetarians however should avoid this menu item.

Steak tartar is a common menu item in bistros.  It can be served two ways, prepared and unprepared. Those who like to play with their food will get the unprepared version. Raw diced beef will be delivered with an assortment of herbs and a raw egg. It’s their job to mush it all together.

Tuna Tartar is becoming fashionable in the raw-beef aware restaurants of America. You won’t see that often in Paris, just the formerly happy cow variety.

Similar words that can cause confusion are tarter (the sauce normally used on fish) and tartine (a slice of bread with butter or sometimes melted cheese and other goodies).

Confit vs. Confiture


You will find various gelatins, jellies, pates, and other gelatinous delicacies in Paris. There are two terms that you need to keep separate: confit and confiture.

Confit typically refers to a fat based method of preserving meats. The most famous is duck confit and in particular a duck leg in confit. The Duck leg is preserved in duck fat and then seared for a crispy skin before serving.


Confiture, on the other hand, is what we’d call preserves, jams, and jellies in english. There is a wonderful world of confiture in France. Look for home made bottles of confiture at farmers markets and patissiers. Favorite flavors include cerise and framboise.

A bottle of seasonal, artisinal confiture makes a great gift for friends in the states. I usually bring home several bottles to enjoy a croissant and coffee and think of times in Paris.

Fruits de Mer

You may be tempted to order Fruits de Mer on a Paris menu. You’d be surprised when the plate that arrives is filled with oysters, clams, mussels, and other shell fish. Fruits de Mer, or Fruits of the Ocean, are the same as Shellfish in English.