By in Food

Fun With Words: 'Brochette'

Have you ever eaten a brochette? You probably have, even though you may never have heard the word. You may have called it a skewer, or possibly a kebab. But let me tell you about the word we used in Quebec, because it has an interesting story behind it.

We were taking with an acquaintance last summer at the market, and he said something light-hearted about shish kebabs. I believe he was wondering aloud if the “shish” referred to the vegetables, as he had recently seen a “kebab” that consisted only of meat.

He wasn't expecting an answer, but he got one! The thing is, the Wolf and I each spent several decades living in Montreal and being able to enjoy a wide range of different world cuisines. The Wolf learned a lot about Middle Eastern foods, when as a young man he worked in a restaurant owned by a Lebanese family. So he was able to educate the gentleman about the differences between different sorts of skewered meat dishes, shawarma, gyros, and a whole bunch more!

We like our food, and we like our words. In several languages! The Wolf can even manage to carry on simple conversations in Arabic. But like me, he's most likely to call a skewered meat dish a “ brochette .”

To cook something “ en brochette ” means to put it on relatively small skewers (not on a spit, as you might if you were roasting a whole chicken , which is the bigger guy – the “ broche ” with no diminutive.) The actual brochette is the skewer itself, and it's also the name used in French to describe the skewered food. Brochettes are a common fast food in the Montreal area, where you can readily find them in pizzerias and in delicatessen-style restaurants.

A brochette can be made from cubes of beef or lamb, though you'll probably find many more made with chicken or pork. Sometimes they are also made with seafood, such as shrimp . The brochette can be made with just meat, or it can include vegetables as well.

The most popular type of brochette in Quebec has got to be souvlaki, a Greek kebab that is frequently served in a wrap of pita bread. The meat is removed from the skewer after cooking, and wrapped in the pita along with fresh vegetables and a garlic sauce made from yogurt, tzatziki . This is a popular food among students and commuters, alike, and is usually very affordable.

| | | | | | |

Image credit: Brochette by Jon Sullivan/Wikipedia (public domain)

Image Credit »

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


somedsatisfied wrote on October 22, 2014, 1:51 AM

Very interesting. I did not know the story behind the word.

MegL wrote on October 22, 2014, 3:07 AM

And there I always thought a brochette was a type of bread! Sounds tasty.

idyll wrote on October 22, 2014, 6:04 AM

thanks for making this post from which we can learn your culture and tradition. never knew that kebab is also called as brochette.

Donna_Thacker wrote on October 22, 2014, 8:37 AM

I learned a new word and some new information. Thanks for telling us about this word. I love learning new things.

Feisty56 wrote on October 22, 2014, 8:40 AM

There must be many interesting and lively conversations in your home! You and the Wolf seem well-matched. I learned more than a few things from this post.

carolscash wrote on October 22, 2014, 10:13 AM

I rarely ever eat kabobs, but I have had them a couple of times. I really have never hear that word and thanks for sharing the meaning behind it.

momathome wrote on October 22, 2014, 10:47 AM

I'd heard the term before but never knew what it was referring to. Around here we typically call them shish kebabs, it's amazing how many different things people call the same dish!

paigea wrote on October 22, 2014, 1:52 PM

I did not know that about the word. Very interesting to learn the story behind words and recipes.

Isabella wrote on October 22, 2014, 2:57 PM

Coming from Quebec and growing up in Montreal, most of my life, i relate to brochettes. How do you do a BBQ without brochettes. So easy to make even your children can participate. Typically all you need is, onions, peppers, mushrooms, the meat of your choice cut into bite size cubes. That's it ... you have a BBQ!

BarbRad wrote on October 22, 2014, 9:50 PM

That sounds delicious, and I wish I weren't reading about it when I'm hungry but can't eat for a couple of hours.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 22, 2014, 9:55 PM

We have a related word in English too: brooch! The first time I heard the word "broche" in French it was from a veteran who was getting set to have his medals mounted on a single pin.

Ruby3881 wrote on October 22, 2014, 9:57 PM

It is extraordinarily yummy! Especially with the tzatziki good & thick...

BTW, you're thinking "baguette" - which is the long stick-like French bread :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 22, 2014, 10:03 PM

I have a bunch more to share! I'm glad you enjoyed learning about the French language :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 12:26 AM

I'm so pleased you enjoyed reading about brochettes! I have lots more words I want to share with you - and if you've got requests I may be able to explain some of those too!

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 12:33 AM

His witty conversation was one of the things that drew me to him when we were courting, Donna! And yes, we have some really interesting discussions in our home on an almost daily basis :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 12:47 AM

I have lots more words coming for you! Some have to do with foods and drinks, but others are places and even concepts that we use in English all the time :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 12:48 AM

Isn't it neat that some foods are eaten in dozens of places around the world? They have different names and maybe slightly different flavours, but at the heart they're the same good foods :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 9:20 AM

I love the history of food! A lot of our cooking terns come from French, so I gain an added dimension to my understanding of what they mean. It's fun to share this knowledge too!

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 9:21 AM

Now I'm wishing the weather were warmer! I have a sudden urge to BBQ, Isabella :)

Ruby3881 wrote on October 23, 2014, 10:55 AM

LOL, I had the same problem when I read Isabella's comment! Now I'm wanting to fire up the BBQ :)

momathome wrote on October 23, 2014, 1:50 PM

Ruby3881 Even in the US, a dish might be called one thing in one region and something completely different in another. I've seen people talking about exactly the same dish but not know it because where they grew up it was called one thing but where the other person was from it was called something different.