(Quick note to my Colonial fans… Not PONZI, that’s quite different, poncey is a UK slang word that kind of just means pretentious)
At this time of year, those of us who find ourselves gainfully employed may well be attending Works Christmas parties – Fun filled affairs that can see the best of us laid low by alcohol-fueled bad decisions, ill-informed liaisons and more blurred photocopies of freshly waxed genitals than you can shake a staple remover at.
Many of us will attend formal meals at venues that we would not normally consider eating at. Of course, the hotels/restaurants see the whole shebang as a bit of an advert / opportunity to show how inventive their chefs are… Mostly this involves combining foods that don’t traditionally go together, like turkey and chocolate, or cooking things in unusual ways like deep frying baby carrots, then giving them a French sounding name that no-one really understands.
To this end, I decided to publish a quick ‘Poncey menu to Real English’ translator to help you understand your menu choices (or if you’ve already had your Christmas meal, what it was that you were complaining was cold, without knowing that it was actually supposed to be, cold)
This post was suggested by my good friend Smoulder Wolf.
Ballotine – A bird sausage. Kind of… Well, more like a Kiev I suppose when you think about it, but instead of garlic butter, it’s filled with minced up bits of the same bird, mixed with its own rendered fat… Which is why the give it a poncey name, because like brawn… When you know what it is, it loses some of its magic (Did you know that the Colonials call Brawn ‘Head Cheese’?)
Balsamic – Has had vinegar splashed on it… No, seriously, that’s it. OK, the vinegar was (probably) made from cooked grapes and not barley, like the stuff you put on your chips. But you can buy Balsamic Vinegar in Lidl now, It’s not the Waitrose only condiment that it once was.
Candied – Covered in bottled syrup, or stuck in a frying pan with some refined sugar and heated until the sugar melts, because that’s massively good for you.
Duxelles – Minced finely… in between chopped and pureed – Used where you want to hide the use of cheap ingredients in plain sight, but you also want them to be identifiable under low light conditions. “Ere, Michelle, is that the Parfait of Gressingham Chipmunk or the Duxelles of Hand-picked Sanddingham field mushrooms?”, “I don’t know, and neither can I find my Playboy thong. Chablis, me old flower.”
Fricassee – Cut into chunks, fried, then served in some kind of sauce, or a jus, if you’re a total knob-end. It’s the sort of thing you’d make for yourself in a dirty frying pan with a tin of spam and a tin of plum tomatoes after you get home from the pub. You can tell the firemen, when they’ve finished damping down the remains of your maisonette, “That were a porc fricassee avec la tomate jus what caused that blaze, Trevor.”
Fondant – Now, you have to be careful with this one, it can mean different things. If you’re talking about a dessert, it means a type of thick paste, often chocolate, that’s usually used as a base. If you mean fondant potatoes, They’re right lush… imagine potatoes cut into cylinders, then roasted whilst being repeatedly basted with stock until eating them tastes like an angel has performed an unnatural sexual act on your tongue.
Infused – Boiled with. If you want to make ‘Succulent potatoes, infused with jasmine’ then bang some jasmine in the water you’re boiling them in – I mean don’t obviously, it’ll make them taste like a rancid dachshund’s had a widdle in them, but that’s the general idea – potatoes taste like potatoes, that’s a lot of their basic charm in my opinion.
Jus – Pron: Djew… Juice… It’s what people who can’t make gravy do instead of gravy to serve with meat. See also: flavoured water, or piss.
Mousse – We all know what ‘Mousse’ is, right, I mean the dessert, you can buy little plastic tubs of it almost anywhere chilled food is sold. But, what’s a carrot mousse you say? That’s easy, you just get some carrot flavoured baby-food, then pump SodaStream gas through it until it doubles in size. It is purely a way of making food go further. It’s an option that could easily be used by the benefit receiving masses to make their weekly food ration last longer. I see a bright future in ‘Big Mac Mousse’ and suchlike.
Parfait – Weird one this, It’s a French word, that doesn’t mean what it actually means in France. In poncey UK restaurants, it means a ‘Paste’ as in meat paste, especially designed for and by the hard of chewing. However in France, it’s kind of like ice-cream, often with alcohol in it. So pretentious that it’s actually gone around the whole ‘Fake French’ idea and come in the wrong way. Which is just like a Frenchman if you think about it.
Shaved – Calm yourselves, it’s not what you’re thinking… It’s a way of thinly slicing things using a vegetable peeler. It’s what happens when you give someone with OCD a carrot to prepare. “It’s not quite perfect, I’ll take a bit more of this side… Oh no, now it’s not symmetrical when viewed from this angle.” – And thus were shaved vegetables invented.
Triple-Cooked – Stuck in the deep fat fryer three or more times. Another cooking technique brought to you by the Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons of the UK Benevolent Fund. Each ironic tiny galvanised bucket full comes with its own set of defibrillator paddles.
Warm – An adjective that shouldn’t really need to be added to hot food, but they feel it gives things a more ‘homely’ feel, usually interchangeable with tepid and the slightly depressed customer exclamation of.. “Oh.” Most often applied to: Bread rolls & mince pies. Most often a complete lie.
Apart from all these wonders, you can ‘Poshen’ food up a treat by using some other meaningless adjectives like ‘Farm-Fresh’ or ‘organic’ or ‘hand-picked’. And you can go a long way to improve the general provenance by naming the geographical area where the food was grown, reared, horrendously slaughtered, or the exact breed or variety (ten extra house points for using the words ‘heritage’ or ‘vintage’ unironically.)
So there we go, an easy-peasy go-to guide for people who want to decode their Christmas menus.
Merry Christmas Everybody