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Nov 23, 2008 11:04 AM

Pronouncing "bain marie"?

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?

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

    2 Replies
      1. re: rabaja

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

      2. Here in Canada we pronounce it Bane.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Bryn

          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

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

            1. re: Bryn

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

          2. re: Bryn

            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

              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

                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

                  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. 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. "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

                  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

                    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

                      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. 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

          , 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

                      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!"