English Equivalents to French Pastries & Sweets

It can be tricky finding English equivalents of French foods.  I know this for a fact because we had to work for a whole week translating a French kids song about a bunch of pastries and sweets.   The song is called Il était un’ dame Tartine.  (Click the link for the song lyrics and translation with recording.)  Here are the equivalents we came up with:

Tartine – Open-face Sandwich or simply a Slice of Bread with something spread on top (like a slice of bread and butter).

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Praline (French) – Sugared or Candied Almonds i.e. almonds caramelized in sugar.

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Pralines Roses – Some French Pralines are colored red.  Monique wrote from France, "Most of our pralines aren’t red, only some are the "pralines roses" ones. Regular pralines are caramel colored (see photo above)."

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Croquets – Biscotti – hard long cookies, often made with nuts.

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Crème de lait – The Cream-top of Milk – in other words, the cream that rises to the top of unprocessed whole milk.  I’ve seen the milk referred to as "Cream-on-top" milk or "Cream-top" milk.

David Solomons told me he called it "top of the milk" with his family as a child in England. 

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Biscuits – Cookies

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Anis – Anise tastes similar to licorice. It’s not actually related to licorice but has similar-tasting flavouring compounds.   I’m including Anise here because it’s in the song.  The song could be referring to anise flavored sweets found around the world or a French liquor named Anis.

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Pastilles – Hard Candy, Suckers (FYI the French word pastille can also refer to throat lozenges).

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Raisiné – Grape Preserves – A preserve half way between jam and compote (stewed fruit) made with black grapes.

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Croquignoles – Crunchy Cookies

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Pâtés Chauds – Mini "Pies" usually made with puff pastry and stuffed with minced meat or shredded vegetables.

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Gimblette – Ring-shaped Cookies – They look like bagels but they’re sweet.

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Fromage blanc – Fromage blanc referred to Cottage Cheese (when the song we were translating was written).  Now it’s smooth. Monique wrote from France, "We call ‘fromage blanc’ any curd cheese but we add words to specify the type. What you call ‘cottage cheese’ would be ‘fromage blanc en faisselle’.  When I was a child, ‘fromage blanc’ was cottage cheese or quark cheese.  What we call ‘fromage blanc’ now is smooth. The smooth forms came much later when the dairy industry became bigger."

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Tarte au fromage blanc (below) is like cheesecake.

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Galette – Flat round French cake

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Vol-au-vent
– Stuffed puff pastry cups – the littler ones are puff pastry canapés.

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Nougat blanc
– White Nougat is a confectionary made with honey, almonds and egg whites.

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Nougat noir – Black Nougat is a confectionary made with honey, sugar and toasted almonds.  Monique wrote, "When I was a child, a bar of nougat noir + a slice of bread would make a 4pm snack."

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Charlotte – A cake made with cookies or slices of cake all around the sides and the bottom of the pan.  Then it’s filled with any creamy filling, like custard, and sometimes also fruit.  Then you put in the fridge to set then turn over on a dish to serve.

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Massepain – Marzipan is Almond Paste with Sugar.  It’s used to make confections, icing on cakes, etc.

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Compote – Stewed Fruit

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Craquelin – Cup-like Crackers from Bretagne, France

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Pâte d’abricots – Apricot Paste is like candy.  It’s made with puréed cooked apricots, cooked again with its own weight of sugar until thick.  (See Recipe for Apricot Paste.)

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Pomm’ cuites au four – Baked Apples

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Petits gâteaux – Cupcakes

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Brioche – A highly enriched French pastry with a high butter and egg content.

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Note: I tried to link the photos to their original sources.  Most are from Wikipedia, some I took.

Many thanks to Monique Palomares (who works with me tirelessly on the French and Spanish versions of Mama Lisa’s World) for helping me with the English translations of these French treats.  We welcome alternatives to these translations.

-Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 at 9:18 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Cuisine, Dame Tartine, English, France, French, French Cuisine, French Kids Songs, Languages, Recipes of the World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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