mace – lacy outer covering of nutmeg, used to enhance flavour
macerate – to soften fruit by soaking in liquid
mackerel – firm-fleshed ‘oily’ sea fish
magret – (Occitan French) boneless breast of the moulard duck which has been force fed to produce foie gras
Maid of honour – small almond-flavoured custard tart, traditionally made with a lemon curd and cream cheese filling
Maillard reaction – a complex chemical reaction at heat between amino acids and reducing sugars
mai tai – (Tahitian: maita’i, “good”) alcoholic cocktail made from golden rum, orange Curaçao, sugar syrup and orgeat syrup
Malbec – red grape variety, mostly used in Argentinian wines in recent years
Manchego – sheep’s milk cheese from the Mancha region of Spain
mandoline – manual vegetable slicer (“mandolin” is the musical instrument)
mantecato – (Italian: “creamed”) cooked until creamy, eg the action of beating butter and Parmesan into risotto
marble – to gently blend two foods (or colours) to create a pattern, usually cake or chocolate
marbling – fat deposited within muscle tissue in a cut of meat, eg a high-quality steak will have a lot of marbling
Margarita – tequila-based cocktail
marinade – seasoned liquid or paste for flavouring and tenderising raw meat, game, poultry and fish
marinate – to soak food, eg meat or fish, in a marinade, to tenderise and add flavour
marjoram – savoury herb used to season dishes, especially in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Similar (and related) to oregano and synonymous in some cultures (where marjoram is called “sweet marjoram” or “knotted marjoram” to distinguish it from its relatives)
Marmite – brand name for yeast extract, a by-product of the brewing industry, used as a savoury spread or as a meat stock substitute
marquise – a rich chocolate dessert made with dark chocolate, butter, sugar, cocoa powder, eggs and cream.
marrow – a member of the squash family, along with melon and cucumber. It’s a courgette (zucchini) that’s been allowed to mature before picking.
Marsala – fortified wine produced in the region of the city of Marsala in Sicily, Italy.
masala – (Hindi) spice mix, eg garam masala
matcha – (Chinese/Japanese) premium powdered green tea
matelote – (from French: matelot, “sailor”) a fish stew made with wine
marzipan – confection consisting primarily of sugar or honey and almonds. Often used under cake icing.
medallion – food served in a round or oval shape, especially meat or poultry.
membrillo – (Spanish: “quince”) a ‘cheese’ made from quince fruits, quince paste
merguez – a red, spicy mutton- or beef-based fresh sausage originally from North African but now also popular in Europe
Merlot – red grape variety
mesquite – tree from America, the wood of which is popular for barbecuing
meunière, à la – (French: meunier, “miller”) lightly floured food cooked in butter and served with butter and lemon
mignonette – (French) condiment usually made with minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar. It is traditionally served with raw oysters.
milk – a pale liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for infant mammals before they are able to digest other food. Humans drink milk from a variety of animals, eg, cows, sheep, goats, camels, etc. Milk can also be produced from plants, eg coconut, soya bean.
millefeuille – (French: “thousand leaves”) layers of puff pastry alternated with sweet or savoury fillings
millet – a small seeded grass native to Africa and Asia, used for both human and animal consumption
mince – food preparation technique to cut food into small pieces. Minced beef is also known as ground beef, particularly in the US.
mint – culinary herb with several varieties
mirepoix – (French) diced vegetables (usually carrot, onion, celery) and sometimes also ham or bacon, used to flavour sauces, stocks and soups
mirin – sweet Japanese rice wine, used as a condiment
mise en place – (French) ‘putting in place’. It refers to the set up of small items of food and equipment required before cooking,
miso – (Japanese) fermented soya bean paste with salt and the fungus aspergillus oryzae (kōji), used as a condiment and to flavour soup
mitsuba – green leaf native to Japan, used as a herb
mix – process of combining two or more ingredients
mizuna – (Japanese) mustard leaf used in salads
moelle – (French) beef bone marrow
mojito – (Spanish: diminutive of mojo, “wet”) alcoholic cocktail made from fresh mint, sugar or sugar syrup, fresh limes, white rum, sparkling water and crushed ice.
monté – (French) coagulation, to enrich by incorporating butter, egg yolks,cream
moules marinières – (French) dish made by cooking mussels in white wine or dry cider with shallots and garlic
moussaka – (from Greek: mousakás) a Greek dish based on potatoes or aubergines (egg plant)
mousse – (French: foam) used to describe the light airy texture of a dish achieved by the addition of whisked egg whites
mousseline – (French: “muslin”) a light fish or meat mousse, made light by the addition of whipped cream or beaten eggs
murgh – (Hindi, Bengali) Indian term for chicken
Muscat – white grape variety used in wine making
mushroom – edible fungus, both cultivated and wild
mushimono – (Japanese) steamed dish
mussel – edible shellfish, often farmed
mustard – condiment made by mixing the ground seeds of the mustard plant with a combination of ingredients usually including water, vinegar and flour. Comes in various varieties and strengths.