Next to ordering coffee, buying meat seems to be one of most difficult things for recent arrivals to get used to and comfortable with. The simple reason for this is that French cuts of meat are different from British or American cuts. There are many more of them and they tend to not totally correspond to a lot of what we Anglos are used to.
Below are two diagrams of how Americans and British cut their meat and following that is the French cuts for you to compare.
- British Beef Cuts – Image from Wikipedia
Now, when you order your Entrecote with fries at your local brasserie you know where it comes from on the cow. As you can see from the diagrams above, the British block that whole section under “serloin” and the Americans divide it between Ribs and Serloin but in France, you have Entrecote, Faux-Filet and the Rumsteak that are all very different cuts and can’t just be lumped into the “steak” category.
One of the meats that the French take most seriously is pork. Just yesterday I ordered a fish dish and it came with little pork sausages. Below are the comparison diagrams for your future pork purchases:
- British Pork Cuts – Image from Wikipedia
In French, filet mignon is most commonly a pork tenderloin but it could also be veal so make sure you read the menu carefully or ask the waiter just to make sure you know what you are getting.
Veal, Rabbit and lamb are a whole different ball game so we will have to touch on that later. What do you usually buy at the bucherie? How does your meat buying different in France than in your home country?