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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fish and Seafood on Menus in France; the Variety is Incredible.

Behind the French menu
Bryan G. Newman
Updated December 2017.
Bar, Bar Commun, Loup, Loup de Mer.
The European Sea Bass, Sea Bass, Bass
French chefs along with the French people, have always had an open love affair with fish and seafood. That love may be seen in countless recipes that were, and still are, created in their thousands. The French love of fish and seafood is consummated, in mainland France, in more specialist fish and seafood restaurants, per capita, than any other western nation. The choice of fish and seafood in France’s fish restaurants is staggering; to their wide variety add France's unique and extensive selection of wines and cheeses; these additions allow for the creation of dishes that other nations can only dream of.

Cod with charred poblano sauce
and purple Peruvian potato fondant.
This is not a post about one particular fish or one particular member of the seafood family. This is an introduction to the fish and seafood that have links in this blog. French cuisine has so much to offer, and this is a reminder not forget, when considering where to dine in France that the fish and seafood they prepare is very special.
Menus of even of even relatively small French restaurants that do not specialize in fish still often have one or more fish dishes on their menu. For visitors from the UK and North America, even those limited choices may still include a fish that is rarely seen in the UK and probably never in North America.
Click the links below,  they include many of France's favorite fish and seafood:

Aiguillat, Saumonette, and Rousette

Aiguille, Aiguillette or Orphie.
Alose or Grande Alose

Anchois - Anchovies, the Fish.
Barbue - Brill, the Fish.
Bar or Loupe - European Sea Bass. 


A bouillabaisse ready to serve.
Photograph courtesy of nyaa_birdies_perch.
Boutargue or Poutargue
Brochet - Pike, the Fish.

Photograph courtesy of nicolas.kennis.
Cabillaud and Morue – Cod.

Photograph courtesy of the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs

Carpe – Carp.
Dorade or Dorade Royale – Gilthead.
Dorade Coryphène – The Pompano Dolphin Fish
Dover Sole or Sole Française.
Églefin, Eglefin, Aiglefin, and Haddock
Espadon – Swordfish.

Catching Swordfish in the Eastern Mediterranean
Fera, Féra, or Palée du Léman – Broad Whitefish.
Lotte or Baudroie
Maigre – Meagre.
Mulet and Mulet Dore on French Menus.
Merlan – Whiting.
Omble Chevalier

Artic Char.
Pageot, the fish – Sea Bream.
Perche, Perche Commune.

Rascasse - The Scorpion
Rouget Barbet and Rougets de Roche
Saint-Pierre - John Dory.
Sandre – Zander or Pike-Pearh.
Sardine, Sardine Commune  - Sardines.

Grilled Sardines in France

The Atlantic Salmon
Silure or Silure Glane - France’s favorite catfish.
Sole Limande

Catching lake trout
Algue or Algue de Mer – Seaweed.

Amander de Mer – the Sea Almond.

The sea almond on sale in a French market.
Photograph courtesy of Vergile Vebrel
Anguille, Anguille d'Europe
Bulot, Bourget or Buccin.
Calmar, Calamar, Chipirons, and Encornets – Calamari.
Caviar  and Esturgeon.
Cocktail de Fruits de Mer

A Conger Eel looking out from its cave
and considering a possible main course for dinner.
Coques - Cocques
Coquilles Saint-Jacques and the Vanneaux or Pétoncle
Cuisses de Grenouilles

The Edible Brown Crab
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Crevettes – Shrimps and prawns.

Huitres II Oysters II
The Langouste, the rock lobster on the Left
the Homard, the two clawed lobster is on the right
Langoustine – The Dublin Bay Prawn or Scampi.
Moules - Mussels in France.
France borders the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea; to those borders add the oceans and seas that border France's five overseas departments and its many administered territories. These oceans and seas provide France with fishing rights greater than all the other countries of Europe combined. To these fishery resources add mainland France's hundreds of freshwater lakes, streams, rivers, and its immense aquaculture industry. France's fishermen and fisherwomen are working 24/7, and they are working very hard. The result is a diversity of fish that is truly astounding.

The Pink Shrimp
Visitors to France will have heard or read that the majority of French men and women enjoy a daily glass, or two, of red wine. Their daily intake of red wine has been proven to contain unique antioxidants that are good for the heart; with that knowledge the French now enjoy their red wine even more. In fish restaurants, the product looking after the hearts and the health of the French citizenry is not their many superb white wines which do not contain the same antioxidants; like the rest of us the French only occasionally drink red wine with fish. In fish restaurants, looking after the health of the diners are essential fatty acids that come from fish Omega-3.  Today, France competes only with Iceland, Japan, Spain and Portugal with the amount of fish eaten per capita. Omega-3 is helping to keep French citizens healthy. Fish, French cuisine, and good health are inseparable.

Usually my search for the correct English names for the fish offered in France’s restaurants, along with the origins and information behind certain recipes, begins with lunch or dinner. Those searches included many mangled French and English discussions with Maitre D's, waiters and waitresses, and occasionally with the chefs themselves. I visited fish restaurants, sometimes just to see their menus, I visited fish markets, and on a few occasions the port-side fish markets in fishing villages. When I later double checked the information that I had acquired, I learned again and again that the French citizenry certainly do know their fish and seafood.

Local names for a fish sometimes make it to menus of the larger restaurants and can confuse the visitor.  So do not be surprised when occasionally your French-English dictionary offers no help. The multiplicity of different names for a single fish is not unique to France. Most other countries have more than one name for a particular fish; the UK, the USA, Germany, Spain, and Italy all have more than one name for many popular fish. In France, some of the names come from old French, old French dialects; others come from Basque, Spanish, the Occitan language and its dialects. I still, occasionally, needed the help of professional ichthyologists; ichthyologists are those who study fish and they also search for or know the correct English names along with the Latin. That professional help with fish names and other bits of fishy information came mostly from Froese, R., and D. Pauly. Editors. 2011. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication.
Bon Appétit – Enjoy!

Searching for words, names or phrases on French Menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" and search with Google. Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 400 articles that include over 3,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017.
For more information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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