Back in the economic heyday of the 2000s, I pulled off some fairly common food—and I would charge an arm and a leg for it. One of my particular favorites was a dish I called lamb chorizo, battered and fried, with organic white bean cassoulet and whole grain French moutarde.
First, a battered chorizo. The batter? Simply light cornmeal, eggs, flour and water.
Next, the cassoulet: onions cooked down and combined with beans, herbs and spices and a whole bunch of bacon fat. That would cook for awhile and then voila, cassoulet. I called it French chili.
Moutarde? That's a fancy word for mustard.
Why am I divulging this information? Simple. Menus are written to confuse dinners. Terms like “sous vide," “verjus” and “Lyonnais” are used to baffle dinners and to make otherwise boring items seem exciting. Sous vide means "boil in a bag." Verjus just indicates that grape juice was used in cooking. Lyonnais is simply "cooked with onions."
So the fancy dish that I was charging over $18 per plate for was a corn dog with mustard and chili.
Diners can avoid being taken advantage of. If you don't know what something is on a menu, ask questions. Don’t be afraid you'll look foolish because you don't know what bechamel sauce is. Just ask. You'll actually get better service if you show some interest in the food. Servers and chefs respect that.
But don't think that I employed word-smithing at the expense of taste and flavor. My corn dog with mustard and chili was awesome.