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#ThatTranslatorCanCook week 46: creamy beetroot verrines

This week’s source recipe was Verrines de betterave et fromage frais – most closely translated as beetroot and fresh cheese verrines. But the recipe name is a matter for debate…


Verrine – to translate or not to translate?

Verrines as are pretty common in France. As Food and Wine explains, ‘Most Paris bistros serve at least one verrine: a multi-textured salad or dessert layered in a glass.’ And French Girl Cuisine advises they’re bang on a trend – a fashionable way of serving appetisers, main dishes, and desserts.

But should verrine be translated? Well, along with the above, several English websites and recipes use the French term, including Food Republic and The Great British Bake Off. It also appears in the Larousse Gastronomique.

To me, all this was a pretty convincing argument for keeping the French term. Besides, if I were to translate it, what on earth could I call it?

Aside from the dish itself, the French term verrine means ‘small glass’, or ‘glass jar’ (so it refers to the vessel and its contents). But ‘beetroot and fresh cheese appetiser in small glasses’ or something similar doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?

Another argument for retaining the French term is that using French words in English texts tend to add a certain allure. This is especially true when it comes to any area in which the French are traditionally thought to excel, such as food, wine, fashion, or style. But this can be overdone, especially when using what have become well-worn clichés.

The title – word-for-word or more creative?

There’s a whole separate discussion to be had about fromage frais that I don’t have time to get into right now. But suffice it to say that I decided ‘fresh cheese’ was not a good option here. Instead, I decided to go slightly more creative, and describe the dish itself. So I opted for ‘Creamy Beetroot Verrines’ in the end.


No cooking to speak of this time as I used pre-cooked beetroot. We ate these for lunch instead of as a starter, so I dished up generous portions, and served with salad and bread. They’re creamy, garlicky, a little tangy yet also sweet. A nice quick and easy appetiser – or lunch!

Recipe ideas and substitutions

This recipe is similar to my source.

Though I used a ‘fresh cheese’ flavoured with garlic and herbs (Boursin), whereas this one uses a plain cream cheese. Cream cheese contains more fat, and is a tad wetter than what I used. Just use whichever you prefer or can get hold of.

Next week

No plans just yet. It might depend on whether I can get to the fishmonger, and what they have in stock.

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