It is night time in Paris just off the Champs-Elysée.
You’re sitting in a bistro which is still decorated with some
Christmas decorations even though it’s January.
Your waiter approaches and you order the steak frites.
Waiter: “Quelle cuisson votre viande? Bleu? Saignant? A point?”
Last year I had a delicious dinner with fellow travel bloggers Sue Reddel and Diana Laskaris from Foodtravelist.com. We ate at L’Etoile 1903, a classic French bistro located a stone’s throw away from the Arc de Triomphe. I ordered the steak frites—-yes, steak with fries. I know enough French that fortunately I didn’t freeze when the waiter asked me this question. [ In this post I have two infographics which you can download as PDFs or save in Pinterest.]
Ordering Steak In France
Here’s an infographic on how to tell your waiter how you want your meat cooked. It might be helpful on your next trip. [Note: The French tend to serve meat a little more rare than we would expect, so keep this in mind].
Your waiter will ask: “Quelle cuisson votre viande? Bleu? Saignant? A point?”
Translation: “How do you like your meat cooked? Blue? Rare? Medium Rare?”
What these terms really mean and to understand the “tenderness”:
Hold your thumb to forefinger as if making the OK symbol
- Touch the soft pad under the thumb with your other forefinger.
- This is what “Bleu” (singed on the outside, raw inside; bloody, almost not cooked) would be like; grilled for 1 minutes on each side
- Rare—-touch the thumb to the middle finger, the bump gets a bit taut
- this is what rare meat feels like
- bloody, very rare
- an à point steak is perfectly cooked.
- this is a medium rare steak in French—touch your thumb to the ring finger
- this is medium but in France it is usually a little closer to rare
- medium has the core temperature is 63- 65 C
- while the term “à point” is used more often to refer to medium, if you really just want medium and not close to rare, ask for “cuit”
- well cooked
- touch your thumb to your pinky; firm
- this is well done in French or “Americaine”
Choosing Your Steak Infographic
Sauces To Accompany Your Steak
The steak (entrecôte) I ordered was accompanied by two sauces (Graine de Moutarde and Béarnaise) and it reminded me of the three sauces I learned how to make at École des Trois Ponts, a language/cooking school west of Lyon. [My experience is detailed in the post, Ecole des Trois Ponts].
If you are travelling to France and want to have something special, be sure to get a steak WITH at least one of these sauces. Yes, they are rich, but delicious and perfect accompaniments to steak.
Sauce #1: Bernaise
Ingredients: vinegar, shallots, tarragon, white pepper, butter, egg yolks
Sauce #2: Bordelaise
Ingredients: red wine, shallots, butter, veal stock
Sauce #3: Graine de Moutarde
Ingredients: white wine, mustard, cream