Flightless Fred’s Linguistic Lessons


Many of you may have already read today’s breaking Mauritius news (it’s about a dodo bird  named Flightless Fred). You may also be aware that I recently escaped the confines of working America for an extended vacation to Mauritius, a one-of-a-kind paradise island.  See above pic.

I will certainly be adding additional culinary details from my travels to make you all (and my present self) jealous. But for now, good ol’ Flightless Fred made me remember a basic food question I had after much dining out in Mauritius, where they happen to speak French.

In the U.S., any restaurant fancier than Applebees refers to main courses as entrees. I always assumed “entree” was a fancy French word for main course. BUT NO! In French, as I learned from Mauritian menus, entree actually means appetizer! So what gives?

Webster says that entree is either French for “entering” or American for “main course,” but offers no reason for the blatant contradiction. Are we doing this just to piss off the French? Was entree the original Freedom Fries? Can anyone offer any insight?


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  • Matt July 5, 2007  

    In English, the entree was originally the “entry” to the second main course. It was a “made dish” (i.e., one comprising multiple ingredients) served between the fish and the meat dishes. I move that the fact that Americans eat all (most) of their meal from a single dish that they adopted the custom of referring to that as the entree.

  • BS July 5, 2007  

    I think you may be on to something – thanks for the info, Matt.

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