How to Order Foreign Foods

Jul, 13, 2013

Why is it that the best restaurants are always French or Italian and you have to be able to speak those languages to order? Some restaurants, usually in tourist areas of foreign cities, will supply an English menu, or you may find and English translation in smaller type next to the native appellation. But it’s still a good idea to learn a little French and Italian so you can understand those menus and order in those languages.

My suggestion is that you read through the following list of common French and Italian dishes and foods and choose ten from each list to memorize. You can ask a friend to help you with the pronunciation, or find a pronunciation site on the Internet to hear the words pronounced by native speakers. Or, you can simply point at the menu to show the waitperson which dish you want. Either way, you’ll be able to order your favorite foods in both languages.

Instant French
1. Bisque = thick, creamy soup
2. Boeuf = beef
3. Bouillabaisse = fish stew
4. Café = coffee
5. Cassoulet = bean stew
6. Crepes = thin pancakes
7. Croque-monsieur = a grilled ham and cheese sandwich
8. Foie Gras = duck or goose liver
9. Framboises = raspberries
10. Fromage = cheese
11. Haricots verts = green beans
12. Jambon = ham
13. Oeufs = eggs
14. Pâtissierie = pastries
15. Pommes frites = French fries
16. Poisson = fish
17. Poulet = chicken
18. Salade verte = green salad
19. Sorbet = sherbet
20. Vin = wine

And of course, the indispensables:

Please = s’il vous plâit
Thank you = merci
Check, please = l’addition, s’il vous plait

Instant Italian
1. Calamari = squid
2. Cannelloni = stuffed pasta (also manicotti and ravioli)
3. Dolci = dessert
4. Formaggio = cheese
5. Frittata = omelet
6. Fritto = fried
7. Gelato = ice cream
8. Latte = milk
9. Marinara = a tomato sauce
10. Pane = bread
11. Panna = cream
12. Pignoli = pine nuts
13. Polenta = cornmeal
14. Pollo = chicken
15. Prosciutto = cured ham
16. Salumi: cured meats, including salami
17. Scampi = lobsterette or large shrimp
18. Risotto =rice dish
19. Torta = tart
20. Vitello = veal

Italian indispenables:

Please = prego
Thank you = grazie
Check, please = il conto, per favore

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and

Follow Lisa Mirza Grotts on Twitter.[/author_info] [/author]

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