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Pronouncing "bain marie"?

chowser Nov 23, 2008 11:04 AM

I've always pronounced this like bahhn with a nasal n, like pain (bread) and never thought about it. But, on Top Chef, Tom Colicchio called it "bane" marie. So, I looked it up and see everything from bane, ban, bine, bin. Merriam Webster's audio is ban marie. Is one correct? Or is this tomato, tomahto?

  1. rabaja Nov 23, 2008 11:20 AM

    Bane is right in my book, and that's what everyone calls it at work.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rabaja
      givemecarbs Nov 23, 2008 01:03 PM


      1. re: rabaja
        manraysky Nov 25, 2008 02:43 PM

        In every kitchen I ever worked in, it was called pronouced that way.

      2. Bryn Nov 23, 2008 11:39 AM

        Here in Canada we pronounce it Bane.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Bryn
          KevinB Nov 23, 2008 05:59 PM

          Not sure what part of Canada you're from, but my family (Montreal, Toronto, and Hamilton) has always called it a "bahn" marie. I mean, would you call the bathroom the "salle de bane"?

          1. re: KevinB
            Bryn Nov 24, 2008 06:06 AM

            Alberta. I was just kidding though, because it says in my profile I'm from alberta, thus ruining all credibility.

            1. re: Bryn
              Blueicus Nov 24, 2008 02:20 PM

              I've only heard it being called a "ban marie" out here in Lake Louise.

          2. re: Bryn
            lagatta Nov 25, 2008 02:22 PM

            Some of us are French-speaking, and pronounce it correctly, Bryn.

            The problem is how to render the sound in English for people not familiar with linguistics notation. I'd say the Simpsonic "meh" gives some idea of the nasal sound in French.

            1. re: lagatta
              janetmweiss Nov 25, 2008 06:56 PM

              Whoa! I'm dismayed at how many people are saying to pronounce the n! I've been speaking French since kindergarten and you definitely DO NOT say bane or bahn.

              I'm with you. Before even reading the replies to the original post, I was thinking, "The best way to spell this phonetically for an English speaker would be 'beh'"

              1. re: janetmweiss
                Bryn Nov 26, 2008 06:45 AM

                I pronounce it like that but with an n. "Beh-n" a very soft n. I asked my francophone friend from montreal and he pronounced it like that to.

                1. re: janetmweiss
                  lagatta Nov 26, 2008 06:50 AM

                  Of course, if they do know how to pronounce "pain" (bread, not suffering), bain rhyrmes with it.

                  My comment to Bryn is because he is Canadian. All Canadians learn the opposite official language in school. That does not mean that anglophones or francophones are necessarily fluent in the other language, but should be able to pronounce it somewhat. Think names of hockey players? There must be a Sylvain somewhere...

                  The exact "tone" of the nasal changes according to accent - I have a friend from the south of France, and his pronunciation is different from a Parisian's, a Belgians or ours, but it is basically that "ain" sound.

            2. l
              lvecch Nov 23, 2008 01:19 PM

              I'm with Merriam-Webster's ("ban"). This is the vowel sound that follows the French, and it's the pronunciation I've always heard.

              1. BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 23, 2008 02:50 PM

                "Ban" is the most correctly French -- technically a bit closer to "bahn," as in the French-inspired Vietnamese sandwich -- but I've heard all the others as well. Might as well just say "baked in a water bath."

                3 Replies
                1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                  Pat Hammond Nov 23, 2008 04:13 PM

                  The Food Lover's Companion shows "bahn". I've always just slurred over it, in a combo between ban and the "bahn" of bahn mi. Reminds me of the different 'a' sounds one can use in pronouncing "flan".

                  1. re: Pat Hammond
                    chowser Nov 23, 2008 04:52 PM

                    Hmm, it's hard to tell what people mean, online. I pronounce banh, as in banh mi, like pawn. I pronounce bain, with the schwa sound as in ban but barely pronounce the n sound, like pain as in pain du chocolat. Unless you say pan du chocolat.

                    The one I really don't get is the bine marie. Unless you're Australian, maybe.

                    1. re: chowser
                      Das Ubergeek Feb 26, 2009 11:28 AM

                      Well, I say "pain AU chocolat", because "pain du chocolat" means that the bread is literally made of chocolate -- and it comes out in Parisian French, approximately, as "pann oh shaw-koh-LAH", as bain-marie is approximately "ba(n) mah-REE" with a nasalised vowel.

                      When I'm talking in Savoyard, though, it becomes a bit more like "pang oh shaw-ko-lah" and "bang m'REE", but not as bad as the Marseillais accent.

                2. a
                  adamshoe Nov 23, 2008 02:58 PM

                  I'm with the ban crowd , too. Though I've heard lots of kitchen crew and chefs call it a bane, or even weirder, a bay-marie. Could be all those CIA instructors don't speak French? The bathroom, en francais, is the Salle de Bain (pronounced "ban". Why would you say it differently just cuz it's followed by "marie"? Adam

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: adamshoe
                    nummanumma Dec 2, 2008 10:59 AM

                    errr...no, the word for bathroom is not salle de ban. It is prounounced Behn, with a light 'n', it is hard to spell actually, but it is most assuredly not ban, as in lifting a ban on something.

                    1. re: nummanumma
                      Will Owen Dec 2, 2008 03:28 PM

                      Unless you're asking for the public restroom, in which case it's "les toilettes". NOT "la toilette", as I discovered to my chagrin. I almost had the waiter fooled until I dropped that clunker; said "Ou est la toilette?" instead of "Ou sont les toilettes?" and he smirked and said, in English, "Downstairs!"

                  2. e
                    Erika L Nov 23, 2008 05:10 PM

                    Another vote for ban. As for those CSA instructors, maybe they're among those who believe that the general rule of French pronunciation is that final consonants are always silent?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Erika L
                      chowser Nov 23, 2008 05:18 PM

                      The final consonant isn't quite silent as much as skimmed, unless there's a vowel after it. Cousin vs cousine, in cousine, you pronounce the n more but cousin isn't as much. I pronounce it like vin; not vin or van but vahhn.

                    2. a
                      Agent Orange Nov 24, 2008 07:02 AM

                      I say bain like pain, train, demain, or salle de bain. The nasal short "e" sound. Frankly, I'm not sure if I've heard or recognized it said anywhere; I think I've only ever read it. If I said that at work though (where we don't use bains-marie), I'd be laughed right out of the kitchen.

                      I've said this on Chowhound before, but our attempts at rendering pronunciations (in French of all western languages) in English are pretty much futile. "Vahhn" to me would rhyme with "yaawwn". As it is, English pronuncation rules are completely random and illogical.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Agent Orange
                        Das Ubergeek Feb 26, 2009 11:30 AM

                        Thank you for writing "bains-marie" and not "bain-maries". It's one of my many grammatical pet peeves when people write things like "attorney generals" or "queen regnants" instead of "attorneys general" and "queens regnant".

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek
                          KevinB Feb 27, 2009 04:19 AM

                          Of course, given their tendency to lay down the rules, "mother-in-laws" is correct, no?

                      2. chowser Nov 24, 2008 07:54 AM

                        This is how I've always pronounced it:


                        If you type in bain marie, you can hear it spoken. But like Agent Orange, I hadn't heard it spoken until I heard Tom Colicchio say bane marie which is what caught my attention. It's hard to write the pronunciation of the "ain" sound since there isn't an equivalent in English.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chowser
                          macca Nov 25, 2008 04:36 AM

                          Interesting- and the English and Frenh pronuciations are different, so looks liks bane and bahn are both correct.

                        2. rockandroller1 Nov 24, 2008 09:05 AM

                          mr. rockandroller says in all the kitchens he's worked at, "bain" rhymes with "sane" or "train."

                          1. Sam Fujisaka Nov 24, 2008 09:22 AM

                            bonn ma ee

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                              jarona Nov 24, 2008 10:54 AM

                              I'm more with Sam Fujisaka..only...

                              bah(n) ma ee

                              1. re: jarona
                                Sam Fujisaka Nov 26, 2008 03:57 AM

                                I agree.

                            2. greygarious Nov 24, 2008 11:51 AM

                              "Ban", with a barely-pronounced N. As in "Au Bon Pain" and the TV commercials for Bain-de-Soleil. In commercial kitchens, "bane" is common - as is "ain't", with the same vowel sound. Both incorrect, albeit for different reasons! Common does not necessarily equal correct.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: greygarious
                                chowser Nov 24, 2008 01:44 PM

                                Thank you--bain de soleil is exactly what I was thinking but it's so hard to get across online w/out audio.

                              2. s
                                smartie Nov 24, 2008 02:32 PM

                                the n isn't really pronounced in French when the next word starts with a consenant. Bain is pronounced to rhyme with vin (French for wine) and rhymes with Boursin and pain (bread). It's almost a silent n.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: smartie
                                  Das Ubergeek Feb 26, 2009 11:32 AM

                                  Only in certain parts of the Francophonie. You'll find in Geneva and its surrounding areas that bain and pain rhyme, and Boursin and vin rhyme, but vin and pain do not rhyme. In Geneva and Savoie, the old trite "un bon vin blanc" doesn't encompass all the nasalised vowels, but "du pain et un bon vin blanc, hein?" does.

                                2. v
                                  Val Nov 24, 2008 03:10 PM

                                  WWJD? What would Julia Do? Probably 'bahn' marie...I'll bet you anything...I've always heard "bahn" for the pronunciation...maybe even check with Jacques Pepin...there may be a youtube on this....must investigate...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Val
                                    Will Owen Nov 24, 2008 05:56 PM

                                    Julia would pronounce it properly French, as her French was impeccable. Mine is minimal, but my wife's family, in whose bosom I constantly am, speak mostly (or in one case entirely) French, and so my accent's pretty good...and I have this attitude that when I'm using a French word I'm speaking French (except for a few place names like Paris or Brussels). So it's "ba(n) ma(French R)ie".

                                  2. Caroline1 Nov 24, 2008 04:41 PM

                                    You have to consider the source. Colicchio also insists that coq au vin only be made with an old rooster. Everyone has some holes in their "cultural literacy." But I am amazed at how many holes he has in his culinary literacy! It is a French word.. Your pronunciation is French. Don't worry about it.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                      Will Owen Nov 24, 2008 06:00 PM

                                      I think Colicchio's being historically correct there, about the rooster I mean, but you sure wouldn't want to cook such a bird using a modern coq au vin recipe. Those have all been re-jiggered to accommodate modern store-bought chickens, which are practically baby chicks. I think the old CAV recipes were more back-of-the-stove, all-day affairs.

                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                        Caroline1 Nov 24, 2008 11:06 PM

                                        I did a lot of research on it when the controversy came up as a result of his dissing the contestant who learned to make the dish as a child from her French grandmother. I was very hard pressed to find a recipe that called for a rooster. Even the two oldest sources I could find (Larousse Gastronomique circa 1961, Encyclopedia of Grastronomy, circa 1906) both call for a young chicken. In fact, Ali-Bab (nom de plum of Henri Babinski), in his Encyclopedia of Gastronomy, says in his opening remarks for the coq au vin recipe, "The dish goes back to the sixteenth century. It was known at that time under the clarionlike name of coq au vin, and it was prepared very rapidly, in the presence of numerous guests, in front of a huge crackling wood fire, in the old "Hostelleries" of France. But, since it can perfectly well be prepared with a young hen, as well as with a young rooster, and since, in the long run, it is a ragout, it would be preferable to call it "ragout de poulet au vin." He then calls for "a young, tender chicken" in his list of ingredients. Larousse and Julia Child also call for a young chicken. As I said, it's simply a gap in Calicchio's culinary literacy. We all have them.

                                        1. re: Caroline1
                                          Sam Fujisaka Nov 25, 2008 02:46 AM

                                          How do you pronounce "Calicchio"?

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                            chowser Nov 25, 2008 03:35 AM

                                            I think I'll start pronouncing it collie che' oh.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                              Caroline1 Nov 25, 2008 06:16 AM

                                              In Italian, a "ch and a "cc" and single "c" followed by any vowel EXCEPT an "i" are pronounced as a hard "k." A double "cc" and single "c" followed by an "i" are pronounced as "ch" as in "chow" (ciao). So it's kuh-LEE-kee-oh, with the "kee-oh" pronounced as close to one syllable as you can, or almost but not quite "kyoh." Undoubtedly there are variant pronunciations as far as accented syllables go in Italy, depending on the region.

                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                Sam Fujisaka Nov 25, 2008 07:36 AM

                                                As you know, it was a facetious, rhetorical, asinine, jackassian question.

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                  Caroline1 Nov 25, 2008 07:44 AM

                                                  Yup. How does it feel to have one leg longer than the other? '-)

                                                  Actually, I figured it might help someone, even though I knew you know. And I KNEW the mods wouldn't let my first answer through... It was "Often wrong." Hey, I wear the B-word proudly!

                                                2. re: Caroline1
                                                  chowser Nov 25, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                  C's an g's are soft after an "i" or "e" but ch and gh is always hard. Pesche is paskay. Pesce is peyshee. Leche is laychay. Just got back from italian class and my mind is spinning.

                                                  I'm just giving Tom Colicchio's name a hard time because he's Americanizing bain.

                                                3. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps Nov 25, 2008 04:18 PM

                                                  I just pronounce it "pompous douchebag."

                                                4. re: Caroline1
                                                  chowser Nov 25, 2008 03:34 AM

                                                  This is interesting. I'd heard that coq au vin (how does Tom Colicchio pronounce "vin"?) was made with roosters, too. I've only had it with poulet.

                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                    Will Owen Nov 25, 2008 10:36 AM

                                                    "It was known at that time under the clarionlike name of coq au vin, and it was prepared very rapidly, in the presence of numerous guests, in front of a huge crackling wood fire, in the old "Hostelleries" of France."

                                                    A-HA! I will therefore concede the point. Thank you for setting us straight - I'd thought it was another of those creaky old Grandmere recipes.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      KTinNYC Nov 26, 2008 01:48 PM

                                                      I'm re-watching the coq au vin episode as I type and Andre Soltner agrees with Colicchio. I believe Soltner.

                                                      1. re: Caroline1
                                                        sfumato Feb 26, 2009 08:27 PM

                                                        I see your young chicken and raise you a rooster. Try Richardin's L'Art du bien manger (1913), wherein he describes having coq au vin in Puy-de-Dôme and being surprised that an old rooster could taste so good. The recipe he encounters there= old rooster, Auvergne wine, bacon, garlic, mushrooms and onions.

                                                        Harold McGee agrees, too, about the rooster bit, and adds that blood is often used to thicken the sauce.

                                                        I just looked, and Julia Child calls for a fryer chicken, which means small but not necessarily very young.

                                                        And, more obviously, "coq"=cock=rooster. As it would be pretty stupid to kill your rooster before he's done at least a few years of stud duties (not too many, to avoid excessive inbreeding), it would make sense to kill him when he's a bit older and then braise him to tenderize the meat.

                                                        I think this is good evidence that it's very difficult to say an old recipe is DEFINITIVELY one thing or another, with no exceptions.

                                                        Anyway, my France-educated mother has always said it with Steady Habits' explanation below. Writing it out, not being trained in those crazy linguistic symbols, would probably be useless on my part.

                                                  2. greygarious Nov 25, 2008 06:51 AM

                                                    Maybe this will help: saying "ban" without letting your tongue touch the roof of your mouth will create the barely-uttered "n" that is the French pronunciation. French spelling has a rather spendthrift attitude toward letters, using lots of 'em and pronouncing far fewer. I had a friend who named her poodle Phaedeaux :-)

                                                    1. fresnohotspot Nov 25, 2008 07:02 AM

                                                      I know pronunciation still matters, but sometimes we just start to accept the mutated forms. Look what we have done with "croissant".

                                                      17 Replies
                                                      1. re: fresnohotspot
                                                        KevinB Nov 25, 2008 07:05 AM

                                                        Are you suggesting there's something wrong with "kroy-zahnt"?!

                                                        1. re: KevinB
                                                          fresnohotspot Nov 25, 2008 07:59 AM

                                                          that's how I say it after a couple bottles of mehr-lott.

                                                          1. re: fresnohotspot
                                                            Samalcious Nov 25, 2008 10:36 AM

                                                            After your beef served with au jus?

                                                            1. re: fresnohotspot
                                                              Will Owen Nov 25, 2008 10:41 AM

                                                              My experience is that the combination of a hard C, a French R and "wa" uttered all at once is about the hardest thing an Anglophone mouth can do. I can do it now OK, but I still have to sort of sneak up on it; if I think about it I just can't. Now, if you want a really tough exercise, try saying "croix rouge"!

                                                              1. re: Will Owen
                                                                KevinB Nov 25, 2008 11:06 AM

                                                                Reminds me of junior high school French; we had a student who had recently transferred to Toronto from Australia. Our teacher worked quite hard with him, trying to get him to pronounce "Raoul" correctly. Over and over, she'd make him say "Rah, reh, ree, row, roo", all with the correctly rolled French "r", which he could do then. Then she'd say "Raoul", and he'd reply, sounding much like a wounded dingo, "Ah-rule". Although many of us suspected he was just taking the piss out of her, we laughed just the same.

                                                          2. re: fresnohotspot
                                                            queencru Nov 26, 2008 04:35 AM

                                                            Good point. Once we bring a word into our language, it tends to take on a new pronunciation. I have yet to hear anyone here pronounce "karaoke" correctly, and when I lived in Japan, it took me a while to figure out what a "rabusta" was (lobster). Soon I got over it and got by.

                                                            1. re: queencru
                                                              Caroline1 Nov 26, 2008 05:06 AM

                                                              Hey, then you could probably understand bigtuna27 in the Ask Sushi Man thread! '-)

                                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                                bigtuna27 Nov 26, 2008 08:09 AM

                                                                Hi Caroline 1 Was I that bad?

                                                                1. re: bigtuna27
                                                                  Caroline1 Nov 26, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                                  It was great fun, but the give-away was that people who speak English with a heavy accent never spell English with a heavy accent. They just make grammatical errors, usually following the rules/sentence structure of their native language. But thanks for the party and stick around! '-)

                                                                  1. re: Caroline1
                                                                    OCAnn Nov 26, 2008 10:09 AM

                                                                    I know a few Japanese folks who spell English phonetically. It's even funnier to watch them pronounce the word repeatedly, cock their heads in thought, then spell it out.

                                                                    And I kinda hope that bigtuna continues with his very good Engrish. BTW, Engrish.com is a funny site....

                                                                    1. re: OCAnn
                                                                      queencru Nov 26, 2008 12:55 PM

                                                                      Typically Japanese students learn pronunciation through katakana (the syllabary for foreign words) and then translate that directly into English, coming up with such classics as "Makudonarudo" for McDonald's. I would not be surprised if someone wrote "burogu" for "blog." My Japanese students had some creative spelling, let me tell you!

                                                                      1. re: queencru
                                                                        Caroline1 Nov 26, 2008 01:35 PM

                                                                        Well. however Big Tuna spells things, he's brought us all a little sunshine. Fun guy!

                                                                  2. re: bigtuna27
                                                                    Sam Fujisaka Nov 26, 2008 08:24 AM

                                                                    That first sentence start up with "brog" ("blog") was the giveaway.

                                                                2. re: queencru
                                                                  Sam Fujisaka Nov 26, 2008 05:11 AM

                                                                  The problem for most people who largely speak only one language is a bit of an inability to hear the sounds of other languages. When I offered "bonn ma ee" above, I inadvertantly assumed that people would hear in their heads a French 'n". Lots of people in Colombia complain that English is not pronounced as it is spelled, but refuse the idea that the letters of the English and Spanish alphabets are pronounced differently. Most CANNOT and many refuse to pronounce "Dana" as we do in English. My poor daughter has to introduce herself in Spanish as "Denna". Then there are Americans who speak Spanish but can't hear how "ll" and "rr" are prnounced outside of Mexico ("ll" is "ly" as in "million" in the Andes and "rr" ranges from trilled to "zzh" throughout Latin America).

                                                                  Worse yet when languages are not the easy and similar Romance and related languages. Some have difficulties with tones (on which meaning depends for languages like Thai and Viet) or with accent (on which meaning depends in Tagalog) or with sounds that don't exist in English (from clicks to reduced terminal vowel sounds to apico-alveolar fricatives) or that have new sound combinations ("m'zuri" or "m'chuzi" in ki-Swahili).

                                                                  Anyway, try these: "Baka bakka vaca" = "maybe a stupid cow" if prnounced correctly in Tagalog, Japanese, and Spanish, respectively; but will probably sound like "maybe, maybe, maybe" said by a Tagalog, or "stupid, stupid, stupid" spoken by a Japanese...

                                                                  Or "Khao kao cow"... anyway ,yakity, yakity, yak

                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                    fresnohotspot Nov 26, 2008 07:04 AM

                                                                    - always good to read your posts Sam, slow morning, huh.

                                                                    Have a Happy Turkey Day in Cali. Don't forget to let the Fresno hounds know when you can get back here, we'll share some larb and pho.

                                                                    1. re: fresnohotspot
                                                                      Sam Fujisaka Nov 26, 2008 07:33 AM

                                                                      Doug, thank you and best wishes also. I'm in the process of going back and forth on line booking tickets for my next trip to DC. Will let you all know: laab, pho, Armenian and Basque too!

                                                                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                      ricepad Dec 2, 2008 11:22 AM

                                                                      Just the other day, I was cut off in traffic by another driver and blurted out, "BAKA!" My daughter, who speaks more Spanish than she does Japanese, asked me, "Why did you just call that woman a 'cow'?"

                                                                3. mogo Nov 27, 2008 05:59 AM

                                                                  'Bain' is not quite like 'ban' in English .., it's a bit nasal and the n doesn't get sounded out. But it is *definitely* not 'bane'!

                                                                  This website has a really cool text-to-speech function. Choose a French voice from the drop-down menu. There is a Canadian French option as well -- Québecois French is a little 'twangier' than Parisian French.


                                                                  1. mogo Nov 27, 2008 06:03 AM

                                                                    ... and here is another example of how to pronounce "bain" (2nd example on the page). Click the speaker icon to listen:


                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: mogo
                                                                      FoodFuser Dec 9, 2008 08:09 AM

                                                                      Here's a third audio:


                                                                    2. greygarious Nov 27, 2008 06:37 AM

                                                                      S'il vous plait... assez...ARRETE - maintenant! ...Merci buttercups ;-)

                                                                      1. almansa Dec 10, 2008 01:20 PM

                                                                        I'd rather hear my cooks say ban marie than bane marie, as it is hits closer to the target. My Brazilians can say it fairly well, as Brazilian Portuguese, like French, has similar nasally rendered inflections.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: almansa
                                                                          Steady Habits Dec 13, 2008 08:38 AM

                                                                          Right. No long "a". If someone is unfamiliar with French, if they will "baaah" like a sheep with a cold and stick a very delicate "n" sound on the end, they'll come as close as they probably can. The trick to the "n" sound is starting it,as we Americans usually do, but stopping before we touch our tongues to the roofs (rooves?) of our mouths in making the hard "n" sound.

                                                                          1. re: Steady Habits
                                                                            toodie jane Feb 23, 2009 09:30 AM

                                                                            Bingo! best expl. yet!

                                                                            I was going to say it is like making the gong buzzer sound "aanHH!!" used when calling a friend on a mistake.

                                                                            1. re: toodie jane
                                                                              Das Ubergeek Feb 26, 2009 11:36 AM

                                                                              I used to teach French and I explained it as the "Family Feud" sound. AAAAAAAA(n)!

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