What is levain (and other menu terms you might run into)?
We live in a good time for food lovers. In any fair sized city it is not usually too difficult to find restaurants serving unique food that may be quite unlike the things we are used to eating. It is also not unusual to see some terms on the menu that send us searching google on our smartphones to figure out what they are. Here are a few we have encountered recently:
Levain is one name for the pre-ferment “starter” used in making sour dough breads. It consists of flour and water containing a colony of microorganisms including wild yeasts and lactobacilli. So if you see “walnut levain” on a menu, it is walnut sourdough bread.
Barding is a technique for cooking meat where the meat is wrapped in a layer of fatty meat before cooking. Pork fatback or bacon are commonly used as the wrapping.
Puntarelle is a member of the chicory family. Usually used in salads and can be described as pleasantly bitter.
Stecca (meaning “stick”) is a small baguette. Stecca can be used as a sturdy bread for making sandwiches that won’t fall apart even if loaded with lots of toppings and condiments.
Photo used under Creative Commons https://flic.kr/p/dePaRj