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What is..and how do you PRONOUNCE it?

Trish42 Jan 27, 2006 08:21 AM

now that i know i wont be laughed at for asking questions, here goes another: ( and yes, i know i can google it but i would rather have chowhounders answers than some computers...)

what is cassoulet and how do you say it? cass-o-let?
is it always the same thing?

TIA :)

  1. c
    Chris Weber Jan 27, 2006 08:30 AM

    Cass - ooh - lay is from southwestern France.

    Believe it or not, it is the predecessor of wienies and beans. Okay, now throw out that mental image.

    Is it always the same thing? You're kidding, right?

    There are 3 (primary) schools of thought on cassoulet, based on geography. These are from the cities of Toulouse, Castelnaudry and Carcassone.

    These people are serious about it, like Americans argue about chili recipes.

    In a nutshell it is meat, maybe confit (will that be your next question?), and beans. Good stuff when done right, a yawner when not. The only time I had it in one of the 3 cities, at a Michelin starred restaurant no less, it was a yawner.

    Now go google it for the details.

    1. s
      Sherri Jan 27, 2006 10:15 AM

      Anyone who has ever tried to learn French knows that for every "rule" there are a zillion exceptions. Having said that, here is a pretty handy "rule" for French pronunction:
      When a word ends in a consonant (G,L,T etc) do not pronounce the consonant - "cassoulet" = cass-ou-lay or "Paris" = Pair-ee not Pair-iss or "gigot" = gee-go.
      When a word ends in a vowel (a,e,i, etc)you pronounce the preceeding consonant - "saute" = saw-tay or "poularde" = pool-ard.

      Hope this helps. Please remember this is a general rule - there will be exceptions.
      (Apologies to all linguists for the oversimplification and phonics butchering.)

      4 Replies
      1. re: Sherri
        Chris Weber Jan 27, 2006 01:53 PM

        Here's a big exception.

        In the south of France, they do pronounce the ends of words.

        And saw-tay is English pronunciation, not French, which would be sew-tay. Cheers.

        1. re: Chris Weber
          Sherri Jan 27, 2006 10:54 PM

          You are absolutely correct -- I am a better linguist than typist. Thanks for catching my error.

          The Provence endings seem to add a complimentary "ing" sound to almost everything ..... and that is another entire story.

          1. re: Chris Weber
            Baskerville Oct 7, 2013 09:58 AM

            When you offered "sew-tay" as the proper pronunciation for "sauté," I read it phonetically (rhyming with "threw") as opposed to the traditional verb "to sew." I was about to jump in here and screech, "IT'S NOT 'SEW-TAY'—IT'S 'SOW-TAY'!" but then I realized that I'm the doofus reading things the wrong way. :)

            ...and then, of course, you could pronounce "sow" like the verb, or like the female pig, and introduce an entirely new wave of confusion. Perhaps we could go with SO-tay?

            ...you know what? English is far too confusing. Let's just all learn French instead.

            1. re: Baskerville
              linguafood Oct 7, 2013 10:19 AM

              I think saw-tay is closest, actually. Without the heavy LI accent, of course '-D

        2. t
          Tugboat Jan 27, 2006 03:16 PM


          Slow cooked bean and meat dish. It can have duck, or other meats.

          1. a
            Andy P. Jan 27, 2006 07:43 PM

            Hi Trish42-san,

            Great question! I didn't know that this was a dish from Southern France.

            It is a cold, wet weekend here in Portland, and cassoulet is now on the menu!!!!

            By the way, keep asking great questions. There is always somebody, (like me) who is appreciative of the answer.


            1. j
              Jim Leff Jan 27, 2006 09:12 PM

              Trish, one of the purposes of Chowhound is to provide a non-snobbish place where we can fill in each other's gaps of knowledge. I have LOTS of gaps, myself, and revel in having a place where I can ask "dumb" questions without drawing snobby derision.

              So I'm incredibly embarrassed by the reception you received (which has been deleted). Please accept my apologies. Speaking to you and all reading along: please don't EVER hesitate to ask naive questions on Chowhound. If you happen to draw condescending, bristling replies, just ignore them. For the most part we're not like that here.

              Again, I'm awfully sorry. We strive to be the sort of site where anyone can ask anything without getting slammed. But every once in a while, the moon goes into a certain phase and some ordinarily friendly posters turn imperious and feel compelled to dictate how others ought to post. Ugh.

              If anyone has comments, please address them to Site Talk. We now return this discussion to cassoulet, however the heck you pronounce it....


              17 Replies
              1. re: Jim Leff
                Chino Wayne Jan 28, 2006 10:57 PM

                "however the heck you pronounce it...."

                Why, in my neck o' the woods we pro-nounce it "pork 'n beans". After all isn't cassoulet's origins as French peasant food, and aren't we all (except for maybe, Cole Porter, Fred Astair, Cary Grant, Lauren Bacall, and Leona Helmsley) descended from peasants).

                Or is it just Leona Helmsley who isn't descended from riff raff?

                Anyhoo, all this talk about a perceived fru-fru French bean casserole has me thinking about dogs and beans, so my next stop will be the Home Cooking board to post my renditon of that French-American classic, hot dogs and beans.

                Link: http://www.indefatigable-indolence.or...

                1. re: Chino Wayne
                  Mary Hopkins Jan 29, 2006 01:27 PM

                  That is true. My French grandmother made cassoulet out of leftover sausages and meats. Our family is not rich and it is just a casserole with beans.

                  Mr. Leff, thank you so much for speaking up. I have been reading the boards a long time and have been afraid to post because of people like those unfriendly posters that make people like me feel unwelcome on the board. Thanks to you this is my second post. If you will tell off some of those snobs on my local board, I would post there too.

                  I have a dumb question too. What is amuse bouche? I read about it, but I never see it on menus? We don't eat at fancy restaurants often.

                  1. re: Mary Hopkins
                    CF addict Jan 29, 2006 02:16 PM

                    "Mouth amuser." It's the little dish/bite the chef sends out gratis at the beginning of the meal.

                    And there are no dumb questions....

                    1. re: CF addict
                      Mary Hopkins Jan 29, 2006 02:22 PM

                      Thank you, for the quick response. Just like Trish42 said, it is so much easier to ask friendly Chowhounds than trying to search on the web.

                      1. re: Mary Hopkins
                        CH Addict Jan 29, 2006 02:28 PM

                        My pleasure, Mary! I should add that mignardis are the free little sweets they send out AFTER the meal. This can range from a simple chocolate or macaroon to an entire cart of sweets (Masa's in SF) from which you can choose little cakes, cookies, even lollipops!

                        1. re: CH Addict
                          Junie D Jan 29, 2006 04:04 PM

                          Thanks. I didn't know there was a name for that. Now, how do you pronounce mignardis?

                          1. re: Junie D
                            Joel Teller Jan 29, 2006 04:24 PM

                            "mignardis" is a French word meaning something small or delicate, I think.

                            Pronounced something like:
                            mean-yard-ee (the final "s" is silent). The emphasis is on the last syllable.
                            But the "R" is pronounced with a throaty sound.

                          2. re: CH Addict
                            Jeremy Newel Jan 29, 2006 06:02 PM

                            I have seen these listed on the menu as "mignardises". Note that this is the plural form of a feminine noun. This would be pronounced "meen-yar- deez", slight accent on the last syllable. The singular (without the final s) would be pronounced in the same way. Sorry to nitpick.

                            1. re: Jeremy Newel
                              CH Addict Jan 29, 2006 06:20 PM

                              You're right. Wasn't paying too much attention when writing. Thanks!

                            2. re: CH Addict
                              yayadave Jan 29, 2006 09:03 PM

                              We were once served small cones of sherbet in the middle of a meal as a “palate cleanser.” That was in California. Do I have to say? It was a small amusement.

                          3. re: CF addict
                            Karl Jan 29, 2006 10:44 PM

                            This is what I always thought and I have never seen it listed on the menu. However, last week in a restaurant in Hawaii, several were described as such and listed on the menu with prices. Took the fun out of the whole concept of a free taste by the chef.

                            1. re: Karl
                              Ch Addict Jan 29, 2006 10:57 PM

                              Honey, that's not an amuse bouche. That's an hors d'oeuvre! Shame on them for calling it that and charging!

                              I guess there is nothing in the phrase per se that says it has to be free but in restaurants it's free. Let's keep it this way!

                              Link: http://www.wordsmith.org/words/amuse-...

                          4. re: Mary Hopkins
                            Jim Leff Jan 29, 2006 09:57 PM

                            "If you will tell off some of those snobs on my local board, I would post there too."

                            If you notice anything angry, inappropriate, suspicious, commercial, or otherwise problematic, please help the Chowhound Team keep this the best possible site by cluing them in. Email the URL to webmaster@chowhound.com, and someone will take a look. Note that we're not looking for just a Mr. Rogers warm/fuzzy tone. We like opinionated people and outspoken opinions. Just not when it gets personal, intolerant or bossy.

                            Also, bear in mind that the site is so friendly and generous that the cranky people stick out extra much. The friendlier it gets, the more this infinitessimal minority sticks out. Don't let them spoil the experience for you.


                            1. re: Jim Leff
                              Mary Hopkins Jan 30, 2006 03:19 PM

                              Thank you again. I will email Chowhound if I see something like that. I did not read the posts that you deleted, but they must have been awful for your stern post.

                              My dad says that another person cannot embarras you. Only you can embarras yourself. Your quick response shows you care about posters. I hope the people who were so mean are the ones you embarrased.

                            2. re: Mary Hopkins
                              Fleur Jan 30, 2006 03:49 AM

                              "amuse bouche" or "amuse guele" is something served when you first sit down in a fine French restaurant to tease the palate,which is its almost literal translation. Often it is a little spoonful of something served beautifully.

                              It is served to welcome you to the restaurant and prepare you for the wonderful meal to follow.

                          5. re: Jim Leff
                            Trish42 Jan 29, 2006 09:07 PM

                            THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!

                            1. re: Jim Leff
                              klyeoh Aug 21, 2012 11:54 PM

                              "We strive to be the sort of site where anyone can ask anything without getting slammed"

                              That's why I liked Chowhound :-)

                            2. y
                              yayadave Jan 27, 2006 11:11 PM

                              Well, you asked a decent question and said up front why you didn’t just google it up. The lack of definition in the subject line is a problem. Don’t know from that if you are asking about fois gras or Mardi Gras or grand curvee. If you scroll down one of the boards looking for something particular, you’ll see how annoying this is. That means that you are not the first person to write a nebulous subject line.

                              You got some good answers that you can follow up. Three cities in South western France argue about whose cassoulet is “right” just like we argue about chili. It usually has duck confit and sausage and beans. It never, never has seafood. Some of the recipes I’ve seen take days to make, or at least a full day. Seems like something you could do on a snowy week-end. It also seems that some of the recipes call for putting a cracker crust on, then baking it for a while, then stirring the crust in and adding another crust, etc. I get the feeling that this may have been developed as what we would call “depression food.” It probably started out as beans with a little meat/poultry added for flavor.

                              There have been some really interesting threads on the Home Cooking Board about cassoulet and recipes/procedures for making it. There are also discussions about making confit. That doesn’t mean I know how to make either confit or cassoulet.

                              One thing I’ve noticed in many of the discussions I’ve read about cassoulet is that Mylanta may be involved.

                              1. o
                                opinionatedchef Jan 29, 2006 06:41 PM

                                trish- if i read the posts correctly, no-one answered your pronunciation question:
                                cass-oh-lay'. many learned posts about its origin and makeup, but to get more detailed, there are usually 2 types of cassoulet- one that includes lamb and one that does not. other than this difference, they all should contain :duck, sausage,white beans, garlic, white wine,tomato. delicious winter comfort food from the Toulouse region of france. When you see cassoulet listed on an american menu, however, remember that some chefs like to play with the naming of their dishes, some might take non-traditional ingredients and prepare a bean stew-type styled dish, not necesarily an authentic cassoulet.

                                1. f
                                  Fleur Jan 30, 2006 03:44 AM

                                  Pronounced Cass oo lay, this dish from the SW of French,Toulouse, the famous Castelnaudry,Carcassone area etc, is a long cooked casserole with a base of small white beans. Different regions do it differently. It is usually delicious.

                                  Café des Artistes in NY does an excellent cassoulet.

                                  1. m
                                    Mr Grub Jan 30, 2006 11:40 AM

                                    Aah, cassoulet -- high on the list of French gifts to the palate.

                                    Many restos in France, esp. those specializing in SW France cuisine, used to keep a pot of cassoulet on the fire ad infinitum, adding to it the day's best leavin's, letting it simmer overnite, then continuing
                                    to serve it the next day.

                                    The estimable & departed St Pere in Paris had an exemplary cassoulet. In the US, Le Central in SF used to have a cassoulet pot going forever, but not certain they still do. The health cops probably got them.

                                    1. s
                                      stilllearning Dec 10, 2010 05:19 PM

                                      The reason you never see amuse bouche on the menu is that you cannot order it. The chef makes it for the guests, usually the same thing for everyone on a given night. It is usually tiny, beautiful to look at and a simple intro to the treats you have in store. So, it's more "amuse" in the sense of entertain rather than "make you laugh"

                                      1. t
                                        toomuchfat Dec 11, 2010 04:16 AM

                                        Kuh Soooo Lett

                                        A dish rendolent with beans and fatty meats. Produces very dense, stinky farts that, some say, you can cut with a knife and serve with epoisse and durian.

                                        Great to serve in overheated small rooms with poor ventilation.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: toomuchfat
                                          salad man Oct 7, 2013 07:37 AM

                                          your pronunciation is slightly better than your breeding

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