Culinary Name

Culinary name is the name of an ingredient when used in the kitchen for preparing food, as opposed to their names in agriculture or in scientific nomenclature. Some are used because they sounds more attractive than the real name, or because a cheaper ingredient can be linked with a more expensive one. The culinary name may also refer to a way of cooking or to a region, or using a particular ingredient.

Additionally, name given on a menu may be different from the culinary name. For example, from the 19th until the mid-20th century, many restaurant menus were written in French and not in the local language. Examples include veal (calf), calamari (squid), scampi (Italian-American name for shrimp), and sweetbreads (pancreas or thymus gland). Culinary names are especially common for fish and seafood, where multiple species are marketed under a single familiar name.

Foods may come to have distinct culinary names for a variety of reasons: Euphemism (the idea of eating some foods may disgust or offend some eaters regardless of their actual taste, e.g. testicles are often called Rocky Mountain oysters, prairie oysters, lamb fries, or animelles); Attractiveness (the traditional name may be considered dull, undistinctive, or unattractive, e.g. kiwifruit, a renamed Chinese gooseberry, which references its fuzzy brown skin; Mahi-Mahi is actually the dolphinfish but was renamed so as to avoid confusion with dolphin meat; the Patagonian toothfish is marketed as the Chilean sea bass).

Another reason for using a culinary name is for: Grouping of a variety of sources under a single name (‘tuna’ includes several different species); Evocation of more prestigious, rarer, and more expensive foods for which they are a substitute (lumpsucker roe is called lumpfish caviar; cassia bark is called cinnamon; langostino is sometimes called lobster; in North America, many flounder species are called soles); Evocation of a specific culinary tradition (shrimp in Italian-American contexts is often called scampi; Florentine refers to dishes that include spinach; Squid is often called by its Italian name, calamari on menus); or Social differences (beef, veal, pork, mutton, and venison were the words used by the French-speaking lords in post-Conquest England).

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