Gastronomic terms to learn to sound like an authentic foodie

Get the most from your food-focussed adventure and brush up on these gastronomic terms to understand the lingo of the top chefs around the world

To fully immerse yourself in the culture of a place, you must sample the local gastronomy. It is the number one rule of travel. So, if you are hungry for a foodie adventure, read on. We have searched far and wide to deliver you exclusive gastronomic experiences that will tickle your tastebuds. From exploring sun-kissed vineyards in the Canary Islands to having lunch prepared by a private chef in the south of Spain, elevate your culinary skills with the help of experts. But, to ensure that you get the most from your travels, it’s time to learn some of the key gastronomic terms. Discover our dictionary full of chef’s lingo and indulge your senses in a full-blown culinary hideaway. 

Savour tasty food in different languages

It is difficult not to be seduced by the gastronomic offering on display in pockets of paradise around the world. From the picturesque olive groves of Mallorca to the zesty deliciousness of freshly picked oranges in Seville, Spain alone is a foodie paradise. Mexico boasts a world-famous cuisine bursting with flavour. France has set the global standard for gourmet dining and has provided us with many of the culinary words that we use today. Food has the power to create everlasting memories that we will forever associate with a specific time and place. For those venturing to the volcanic island of Tenerife, learn how to cook like a professional with an in-room chef. Travellers in Cadiz can rustle up a Paella in the famous Arrozante restaurant. And, if you find yourself in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, don’t pass up the contemporary Chef’s Table fine dining experience complete with a tasting menu and wine pairings. 

The A-Z of the gastronomic terms to learn for your travels

If you are going from feast to feast on your travels, it is worth keeping a gastronomic dictionary up your sleeve. Between deciphering menus and making friends with up-and-coming chefs, knowing a few keywords will help you savour every experience that little bit more. Afterall, according to statistics, 80% of travellers research the food and drink in their chosen destination before arrival. 

Afterall, according to statistics, 80% of travellers research the food and drink in their chosen destination before arrival

So, to make sure you dive head first into foodie paradise, we have created the ultimate guide to culinary vocabulary, broken down into sections to make it even easier to use.

Bring your foodie adventure to life by learning some gastronomic terms

French food words

There is no better place to start when compiling your foodie dictionary than with French cooking words. Whether you decide to spend your honeymoon enjoying a gourmet feast or simply enjoy fine dining abroad, here are some of the essentials that you will need to know wherever you go.

Bain Marie

This is one of the most common French gastronomic terms. A bain-marie is essentially a hot water bath that slowly cooks food and protects it from direct heat. It is normally used to melt chocolate, make a custard, and cooking sauces. 


A thickened shellfish soup. This is one of the French culinary words that you will often see on a menu. A bisque has a creamy texture and is commonly made with lobster, crab, or prawns.


Bouillon is a fancy word for food like broth. Fish, meat or vegetables are simmered in water and then removed. The stock that is left is called Bouillon. It can be eaten on its own or used as a base for another sauce.


Most of us will be familiar with this gastronomic term. Canapé is a small appetizer with a dried bread base and a topping of your choice. Most commonly served at parties.


This is the French way to say Sirloin steak

Hors d'Oeuvres

Hors d’Oeuvres is how the French describe the first course or the starters on a menu.


A thickener added to sauces that has been made from melted butter and flour.


A dish that has been cooked in a pan with sloping sides and that is higher than it is wide. This name can be used to describe the pan itself or the food prepared inside it.


A rich and creamy sauce made from butter, flour cream and stock. Velouté is one of the key gastronomic terms to add to your dictionary as this is one of the “mother sauces” of French cooking. 


A posh way to describe a puff pastry case that contains a creamy filling, usually chicken or fish. These are commonly served at dinner parties as canapés. 

Japanese cuisine is full of gastronomic terms to learn

Japanese food words

Asian cuisine is having a moment with street food stalls, matcha tea bars and fancy sushi restaurants popping up all over the place. It appears the world cannot get enough of the exotic flavours and curious culinary combinations.

It appears the world cannot get enough of the exotic flavours and curious culinary combinations

But, let’s admit it, Japanese food names can feel like tongue twisters. To help you enjoy the experience, we have put together a Japanese food words list: 


No Japanese meal is complete without Gohan. This is one of the Japanese gastronomic terms used to describe soft, fluffy, slightly sticky white rice


You may have seen little reddish balls on top of some Japanese dishes. This is Ikura or salmon roe. Just like caviar, these fish eggs give an exotic finishing touch to your food.

Kobe beef

A famous type of wagyu beef from the Tajima strain of Japanese Black cattle originating from the Hyōgo region. It is prized for its well-marbled texture, tenderness and juicy flavour.


Maki is Japanese culinary slang for something rolled. It is normally used to refer to fish and vegetables laid on top of a bed of rice and seaweed, or what we would call a sushi roll. So, if you like eating sushi, you now know that you like eating maki.


Miso is a strong salty paste made from soybeans, rice, or barley and a koji culture which causes the mixture to ferment and become Miso.


A delicious dish of raw fish sliced into 1cm thin strips and eaten with soy sauce.


A word used to describe vinegared dishes. Typically used to describe a salad of sliced vinegared cucumber.


This is one of the Japanese gastronomic terms becoming more and more popular. It is used to describe a wheat free / gluten free soy sauce.


A deep-fried crispy coating typically found in prawn and vegetable dishes. It was introduced to the Japanese by the Portuguese in the 16th century.


A great word to add to your eating out vocabulary. Wasabi is Japanese horseradish. This bright green paste adds a spicy kick to any Japanese dish.


Yakitori is one of the fancy gastronomic terms used to describe a Japanese BBQ. Yakitori is skewered pieces of chicken or vegetables coated in a spicy sauce and grilled.

Japanese cuisine is full of gastronomic terms to learn

Mexican food words

Mexican food is playful, fun and devilishly delicious. With bags of flavour and extra helpings of cheese, what’s not to love? Yet, did you know that Mexican cuisine is one of the oldest in the world? That’s because the people of Mexico were one of the first civilisations to develop agriculture. Corn and chocolate are two of the popular foods that Mayans produced which have now become staples in our everyday diets.

Corn and chocolate are two of the popular foods that Mayans produced which have now become staples in our everyday diets

If you are visiting Mexico, be sure to visit a local food market to see the zesty food culture first-hand. You will want to brush up on your Spanish, especially the words to describe delicious food, so that you can eat like a local. Here are a few gastronomic terms to get you started.


A Mexican appetiser that consists of a deep-fried burrito. If you thought burritos couldn’t get any tastier, try them deep-fried.


A typical Mexican breakfast dish made from tortilla chips, shredded chicken bathed in a spicy red or green chili sauce with sour cream and avocado.


This is one of the Mexican gastronomic terms used to describe a smoke-dried red ripe jalapeño chili pepper. This is used to make smoked, spicy sauces.


Corn tortillas with a filling of your choice and coated in a spicy red or green sauce. 


This is one of the fun food words to describe corn tortilla wraps filled with strips of grilled meat and vegetables.


Frijoles, or refried beans, are rich in protein, this is a plate that cannot be missed when it comes to Mexican food. 


A traditional Mexican savoury sauce made with a base of chili and chocolate.