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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

                    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

                      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. 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

                      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. 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

                        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

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

                      2. 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

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

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

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

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

                              bah(n) ma ee

                            2. "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

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

                              2. 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

                                  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. 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

                                    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. 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

                                      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

                                        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: Sam Fujisaka

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

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              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

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

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  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

                                                  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: Caroline1

                                                  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

                                                    "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

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

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        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. 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. 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

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

                                                        1. re: KevinB

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

                                                            1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                              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

                                                                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.

                                                          1. re: fresnohotspot

                                                            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

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

                                                                1. re: bigtuna27

                                                                  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

                                                                    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

                                                                      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

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

                                                                  2. re: bigtuna27

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

                                                                2. re: queencru

                                                                  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

                                                                    - 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

                                                                      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

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


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

                                                                      1. 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

                                                                          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

                                                                            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

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