This section is from the book "The Art Of Naming Dishes On Bills Of Fare", by L. Schumacher. Also available from Amazon: The Art of Naming Dishes on Bills of Fare.
But if the four dishes are simply called Cochon de lait, russe then it is unintelligible and not correct. And if all the following for the same chestnut pudding are called Pouding am-bassadrice, Pouding castellane, Pouding Cas-tellane, Pouding Castillanc then this surely is a nonsense.
A thick volume could be filled with detailed information which would make the men of the trade marvel at the medly of culinary names. The writer of this treatise has ascertained in one case that 59 different names in four languages were found in books and on table cards for one and the same dish and only 11 of them described in some measure the right thing. One does not need to wonder at this if one observes how names of dishes are sometimes treat-et by professional men. It happens a thousand times that the real designations are purposely left out in order to make room for others which satisfy the vanity of certain persons. Some cooks prepare dishes a little differently from given recipes and give them a new name. Often they are given mysterious, fantastic and unheard of names which have no right to be linked with culinary designations. The result is that the culinary language of today is so rich that all compiled names would fill as many volumes and as large as th(ose of the Encyclopaedia Brjtanica. Seventy-five per cent of these names belong in the waste basket. To understand this statement one only needs to take several cook books and bills of fare and compare the meaning of some style designations and it will be seen that many of them have exactly the same meaning, though the names are entirely different. One must come to the conclusion that style designations are of value only if they have an unchangeable meaning, otherwise they remain that which most of them are today, riddles. After going through a dozen books I was unable to find hundreds of names which appeared on bills of fare. There is for instance: Carbonade a la nivernaise. Is there any one who can tell me what this means? Carbonade to some people means a roast, no matter if of beef or of any other animal; to others it means a cutlet or a chop, mainly of pork. Then why not call it so? And if a sauce is meant by a la nivernaise call it Nevers Sauce; if a complicated garnish Nevers /style/; if only one kind of vegetable leave out the expression entirely and write with Carrots, with Turnips, etc. That is intelligible naming while the former is a riddle which changes the bill of fare into a useless scrap of paper.
It is of course understood that in some cases it is best to call some dishes by names which do not indicate the real ingredient to all guests. A guest, for instance, is fond of ram's stones (wedder stones) will also understand this by the designation L a m b's f r y. This name covers in a way a "public secret" and saves some guests from being shocked. And if the genius of a chef disguises onions, garlic, and other things that are not liked by many in such a masterful way that no one will suspect the real thing but turn haters of such dishes into admirers, it would certainly be foolish to mention the items on bills of fare.
Because the cooks use certain rules in cooking and follow up certain practical ways in preparing great and perfect dishes from a few elements into a numberless variety, they also would do a great thing by helping to apply certain rules in the naming of dishes. If this is not done, then the time is not far distant when the entire naming will lead to extremes by calling dishes by style names only. To some extent this is already done, and should be avoided. We cannot demand that guests shall take a special course in order to study culinary expressions, that they may be able to understand a bill of fare. If the chefs think it practical to use short technical expressions in the kitchen let them do so, but then they also must allow us to be practical in the dining room, which means that the dishes should first of all be named with their main ingredients and styles of preparation. That is what the guests want.
As we approach the end we cannot help mentioning that there are some hotel and restaurant men who try their best to offer their guests dishes in plain English. That sometimes wrong translations and foreign words appear on their bills of fare is mainly due to the fact that the right names are not known. To this the dictionaries that will follow and the little work on hand may be a help.
To sum it up there is shown a way here of briefly naming dishes and making them intelligible without the possibility of mistaking one dish for another. But to make the rules a standard arrangement would need first of all the help of the chefs, stewards, etc. They have in the future an easy but very gratifying work before them. What is suggested here is the harmonious working of the makers of bills of fare and the dining-room management, and the understanding of the practical appliance of intelligible writing. Less trouble in the dining room means less trouble in the kitchen; and the whole is to the advantage of the gues.ts, the kitchen and restaurant employees and also to the proprietors i or whom if saves much money, as it stops the waste of food to a large extent. It is to their mutual benefit. Therefore let the aim be:
intelligible bills of fare for guests in plain English by naming the dishes with the principal ingredients and principle styles of preparation.