Nut roast

nuts and boltsI spent last Monday interpreting in East Sussex. After a busy day, we all ended up in a lovely pub with an interesting history in Lewes to have dinner and talk about forthcoming projects. Little did I know that a major incident had only just been averted thanks to the keen eye of the British lead partner.
A few days earlier, a menu had been sent to the French partners so they could make their choice for dinner. For the main course, one of the options was “nut roast”, which was translated as rôti de noix. The problem was that, in French minds, rôti is almost inevitably associated with meat, and noix happens to be a cut of meat: “eye” in English. So the meat-loving French all picked the nut roast. Thankfully, the British project lead knew that her counterpart wouldn’t be impressed with a meat-free dinner, so she made sure he was served a good old steak-frites. The others got their nut roast (which I translated in French as terrine végétarienne) and enjoyed it.
The translation of cuts of meat is generally very difficult and I haven’t managed to find a good English to French glossary on this subject. If you know of one, I’d be grateful if you shared it with me, otherwise I’ll have to compile one myself!
Nuts (and bolts) photo by paulmoody
Thanks so much to my Twitter buddy @falena84, who gave me links to a beef glossary.
Also on Twitter, @neliafahloun chirped in with a very nice post on buying meat.

By | 2016-10-18T15:48:57+00:00 February 1st, 2010|Words|8 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. brian February 1, 2010 at 11:11 am

    I agree, meat questions, and food in general, can be extremely complicated – it’s difficult to find a suitable 2 or 3 word term to translate many dishes on a menu without explaining exactly what it is in brackets!
    For example, the simple Catalan snack “pa amb tomaquet”, translated as bread with tomato, or tomato bread, goes nowhere near conveying the simple but tasteful snack which everyone enjoys over here with their “tapas”!

  2. céline February 1, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Brian, your comment really makes me want to book a holiday in Barcelona…

  3. Patricia February 1, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Céline, if you ever find a good glossary, let me know! When I first came back to France, I had such a hard time explaining to my local butcher what I wanted that he took me inside his freezer to pick out cuts myself. Well, that didn’t help — I recognize cuts when they are already prepared, not when a whole side of beef is hanging there. Gave up meat for a while after that….

  4. Daniel February 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    Canada is a good place to look! The federal government here has a meat cut manual in (of course) English and French:
    et en français:
    The links are for beef here but there is info for other animals as well, here:
    (all the pages can be toggled between English and French)
    I’m not a butcher but I’d imagine there would be differences between British English and N. Am. English, as well as le français de la France et le français du Québec.
    Actually, they have a lot of useful information (for translators and the like): there is a fairly large database of names for fish and seafood:
    Again with the same caveats about differences across the pond.
    Hope this helps!

  5. céline February 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Hi Daniel, thanks a lot, I wish the same resources were available in français de la France. It’s such a shame that the Académie française is such a cumbersome and outdated institution that it wouldn’t in a million years be able to provide information of such quality.

  6. Crug February 3, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Problem is that actual meat cuts are different in the UK and France ( let alone the words to name them!). When I worked in London yeas ago, there was a boucherie française in South Kensington for the French ex pats who could not get used to the way Brits cut animals… As far as I am concerned, meat tastes the same whatever way it is cut! But then I am (almost) vegetarian…

  7. Elizabeth Adams February 19, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    It’s true – cuts of meat are actually different in different countries. I have a “map” for how to cut up cows, pigs and sheep in Russian, and I suppose if I found something similar in a U.S. cookbook it would be possible to put together a glossary. Thank goodness ribs are always just ribs!

  8. Focalist September 5, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    The constantly updated “Food Lexicon” at is making a good stab at dealing with this area — where, more often than not, what is called for is not so much a translation as an explanation!

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