Saturday, January 5, 2019

Menthe – Mint. Mint, Garden Mint, in French Cuisine.

from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan G. Newman
 BehindtheFrenchmenu@gmail.com
 
Mint
www.flickr.com/photos/jxson/8289500341/

Menthe or Menthe Anglaise – Mint, Spearmint or Garden Mint is the mint most often seen in French and other Western European cuisines as well as those from North America.  Menthe Poivrée, peppermint, is a stronger hybrid of spearmint and the mint most used in desserts, pastries, and tea. Mélisse, Lemon Balm, is another close relative of spearmint and with its lemon and mint tang is used for salads, marinades, mayonnaise, herb vinegar, fish dishes, and fruit salads.   (Lemon Balm is also an ingredient of Benedictine, Chartreuse, and other French liquors).
  
Fresh raspberries, ice-cream,
and
Menthe Fraîche – Fresh mint.
  
Mint is everywhere in French cuisine and beginning with cocktails you may find France’s venerated anis (pastis), licorice-flavored libations, flavored with mint syrup.  Mint accented salads and soups, especially cold soups, may follow as do mint entrees (the French first course).  French main courses, the plat principal, are studded with mint sauces.  Roast lamb may be offered with Sauce à la Menthe Anglaise, English mint sauce, though Sauce Palois created from Sauce Béarnaise with mint replacing the tarragon and served warm is much more popular.  Whitefish dishes are perfect for mint accents with both spearmint and peppermint also used for decoration and to flavor fruit sauces and fruit salads.
   
Mint on French Menus:

Cocktail de Crevettes Sauce au Brandy et Menthe, Chiffonnade de Laitue – A shrimp cocktail served with a brandy and mint sauce on a bed of lightly sautéed lettuce. Chiffonade translates as rags in a French-English dictionary, but on a menu, it will indicate thin strips of lightly sautéed vegetables.  Chiffonades may include uncooked strips of vegetables that garnish other dishes or describe thin strips of smoked salmon, cured hams or other finely cut fish or meats. (BTW the first  recipes for seafood cocktails on French menus were imported from the USA). 
  
Green cucumber & mint gazpacho soup
 


Côtelettes d'Agneau Accompagnée de la Sauce à la Menthe et des Pommes de Terre Rôties - Grilled lamb chops served with a mint sauce and accompanied by roast potatoes.
   
with pea and mint crusts ready for the oven.
    
Filet de Dorade Royale Salsa Mangue, Menthe et Gingembre – Filet of Gilthead Seabream served with a mango salsa flavored with mint and ginger.
   
Profiteroles Menthe Pépites de Chocolat et son Chocolat Chaud  –  Profiteroles, French choux puff pastry balls with sweet, custard or ice-cream fillings covered with mint chocolate chips and a hot chocolate sauce.  (Pépites in your French-English dictionary may correctly translate as nuggets, but chicken nuggets including those Chicken McNuggets offered in the over 1,000 branches of McDonald’s France, will be on the French menus as Croquettes de Poule).
  
Day trip with traditional English fish and chips
Accompanied by mushy peas with a mint accent,
with a small serving of Tatar Sauce.
www.flickr.com/photos/cityfoodsters/18703607854/


Soupe de Fruits Rouges à la Graine de Vanille et Menthe Fraîche – A cold dessert soup made from red fruits and flavored with vanilla pods and fresh mint.
 
At the end of the meal a number of the mint family members may be offered in infusion or tisane, a herbal tea,  recommended to aid the digestion.
  
Sprig of flowering mint.
www.flickr.com/photos/mustangjoe/37513894771/

The popular North American and UK mint jelly often offered with lamb will never be seen in a French home or restaurant. It would be considered worse than ketchup which, however,  more and more frequently does make French restaurant children’s menus. Every chef can make a fresh mint sauce, a bottle is not required.
   
Mint Martinis
www.flickr.com/photos/viclic/1506721012/

Mint has many other family members including Apple Mint, Pineapple Mint,
Orange Mint and Chocolate Mint.

Spearmint in the languages of France’s neighbors:
 
(Catalan - mentha spicata), (Dutch -  aarmunt, groene munt), (German - grüne minze), (Italian - mentastro verde), (Spanish - hierbabuena), (Latin - mentha spicata).
  
Peppermint in the languages of France’s neighbors:

(Catalan - menta pebrera), (Dutch - pepermunt), (German – pfefferminze), (Italian – menta piperata), (Spanish – mentha piperita), (Latin -  mentha piperita).

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Bryan G. Newman

Behind The French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2019.

For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman
at
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