Listed below are some explanations of the cuts which are butchered differently from what you may be used to, along with some useful direct translations.


• Bacon if thinly sliced is poitrine, or belly, preserved with salt. The French tend to slice their poitrine fairly thickl, in order to make lardons, so you need to ask for the slices to be ‘fine’ (pronounced ‘feen’). Bacon is rarely injected with water in France, so you get more for your money, it tastes better and crisps-up easily. Not the same as the packets called ‘bacon’ – these are brined, trimmed pork.

Echine – meaning shoulder, encompasses the blade bone and spare ribs.
Plat de côtes – where the hand and belly meet
Côtes – where the carré comes from, and is made up of loin chops. Basically, rack of pork.
Filet – in France, is from the hind loin area. The English fillet is from the part which the French call jambon, or ‘ham’.
• If you want your joint with crackling, this should be no problem for your local butcher, but you may need to order it in advance. Ask for the joint ‘avec la couenne’ (pronounced la ‘quwen’).
joues – cheeks.

Chicken, duck, goose and others:

Here is some useful vocabulary:

Poulet – chicken (probably ex-layer, and the ‘normal’ age to buy one).
Poulette – young chicken.
Coq – cockerel.
Pintade – guinea fowl.
Dinde – turkey.
Volaille – fowl/ poultry.
Cuisses – thighs.
Magret – breast.
Carcasse – carcasse for making stocks and soups.


Gigot d’agneau – leg of lamb.
Echine – shoulder.
Côtes – chump.
Collet – scrag (end).
Poitrine/ poitrail – breast
Côtelette – chop. usually from the rack of lamb, where the British cutlet comes from.
Jarret – can mean shank or shin.
Selle d’agneau – saddle.


Bifteck/ steak – steak.
– undercut – from the skirt, textured with long muscle fibres.
– fillet.
– same
Steak à hacher
– used for steak tartare and steak haché. Steak haché looks like a burger, but is simply this high quality steak minced up and pressed together. It is usually freshly done, which is why people are happy to eat them rare. Not comparable to a beef hamburger.
Romsteak/ rumsteak
– rump steak.
– sirloin
– ribeye.
Tournedos/ filet mignon
– tenderloin steak usually cut almost as high as it is wide. basically a chunk of tender steak, usually served quite rare unless otherwise requested (see ‘Steak Doneness’) You can get ‘tournedos’ of lamb, too.

Other beef:

Tête de veau – head
Langue de bœuf – beef tongue
Gîte (à la noix) – topside
Queue – tail
Cou – neck
Tranche – meaning ‘slice’, implies a steak of any meat other than beef.
Filet/ longue/ aloyau – all words for loin. Loin chop is ‘côte première’.

Any meat that says ‘à poêler’ means ‘for frying’.

Read more: how to order steak in France

10 of the best French foods

France for foodies

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