Words Beginning with the Letter L


Lactic acid

Acid obtained from sour milk. See also Pasteurise, Milk.



Young sheep up to the age of eight months.


Lamb's lettuce [See Corn Salad]



A sea fish resembling an eel which, like salmon, spawns in certain rivers. It fastens itself on to wood, stone or other objects under water, including other fish, which it eats. Can be stewed, baked or made into a pie. In the Middle Ages lamp­reys were a great delicacy and were caught in large quantities in the earlier part of the year, particularly in the River Severn. Legend has it that a surfeit of lampreys killed Henry 1; this may have been due to their soft flesh being highly indigestible.


Langouste [See Crawfish]


Langue de chat

A biscuit which is thin and flat like a cat's tongue, served as petit four or with ices and cream sweets. May be of plain choco­late in confectionery or a sponge biscuit mixture, straw coloured in the centre and browned round the edges when baked.



Fat of a pig which has been rendered down, sometimes flavoured with rosemary, but should be odourless and white. Used for frying (is the best after oil) or for shortening.



Certain cuts of meat, like fillet of beef or veal, which have almost no fat of their own are given additional fat by a process called larding. This consists of sewing pieces of fat (see Lardons) on to them with a larding needle.



Specially cured larding bacon (without saltpetre) is all fat and is cut into strips, or lardons, about 1½ inches long and ¼ inch wide and thick, for the process of larding. Pork fat is a good substitute when larding bacon cannot be obtained, although many delicatessens sell a Polish variety called Spik (German Speck).



One of the many varieties of Italian pasta: a wide ribbon which may be plain or Lasagne verde, which gets its colour and flavour from spinach. Like other pasta, lasagne may be made easily or it may be bought in packets at the delicatessen. The paste is dried and lightly boiled, then layered with a meat mixture and coated with a cheese sauce or just cheese and browned in the oven.



Edible seaweed which, after being well washed, is stewed until it becomes a pulp. Lemon juice, salt, pepper and some butter are added and the laver is heated again and eaten either as a vegetable with meat or as a savoury on hot toast. Often sold ready cooked in seaside towns; both the green (Ulva latissima) and purple (Porphyra laciniata) varieties are common in the British Isles.


Leek (Allium porrum)

A long cylindrical-shaped member of the onion family, with a similar but far more subtle flavour than the onion itself. Leeks can be served as a vegetable or used as a flavouring or served cold with a vinaigrette dressing or mayonnaise in salad. Grown in a trench and blanched to give 4-5 inches of white stem, are best between November and March.



One of the most important citrus fruits for culinary purposes, imported into England all year round, mostly from the Mediterranean. All parts of the lemon are widely used: the pips and pith have a high pectin content, the rind (or zest) and juice are important flavourings; lemon juice often substitutes for vinegar in salad dressings. The lemon is however rarely eaten as a fruit in its own right.


Lemon balm [See Balm]


Lemon sole [See Sole]


Lentil (Lens esculenta)

The seed, two to a pod, of a hardy annual which, when dried, looks somewhat like a small split pea and is cooked in a similar fashion, although it be­longs to a different family. The German or brown variety and the golden lentil are both sold in England, the latter being smaller and easier to cook; both may be used for soups, purées, Indian dhal, etc. and need long soaking before cooking.



A vegetable whose crisp green leaves and heart are the almost universal basis for salads, al­though in some countries they are also cooked. The cabbage, so-called because of its round cabbage shape, and the cos, long, upright and with crisper leaves, are the two best known. Grown in the open during the summer and under glass or imported from October onwards.



Young hare.



A mixture for thickening and binding sauces, gravies and soups. The most common are a roux, kneaded butter or egg yolks and cream.



The lungs of an animal, mostly of a bullock. Their name comes from the fact that they are very light in weight.


Lima bean [See Bean]


Lime (Citrus limetta)

A citrus fruit similar to the lemon, grown in the West Indies and imported in small quantities into Britain as whole fruit. Thin skinned and green and mainly used for its juice.



Generally dried and salted, ling is a coarse, large cod which must be well soaked before being included in fish stew, etc.



Alcoholic spirit based on wine or brandy and flavoured with spices, herbs or fruit, usually drunk in tiny glasses after a meal. Most well-known liqueurs are based on closely guarded secret formulae, although their main ingredient might be obvious. See Benedictine, Cherry Brandy, Crème de Menthe, Curaçao, Dram­buie, Kirsch, Kümmel, Mara­schino, Noyau.



An offal, to be eaten without being hung and not over­cooked. Is very nutritious and extensively used in cookery in most countries. Calf's liver has the most delicate flavour, and is the most expensive, followed closely by lamb's liver. Both lend themselves ideally to the traditional fried liver and bacon, usually with fried onions. Pig's liver is best for pâtés, terrines and stuffing; ox liver is coarse and strong-tasting and not often used. The liver of geese and other poultry is used for pâtés and specialised dishes. See Continental Sausages.



Regarded in England as the best of the shellfish. The average weight is 1-1¼ lb, the shell dark greenish-blue when raw but brilliant red when cooked. Overlarge or barnacled lobsters should be avoided. Hen lobsters are prized for their coral or spawn, used for flavouring and colouring lobster butter for sauces, while the cock has fine, slightly firmer flesh. The season for lobsters round Britain's coasts is from March to October although they are available (and expensive) at other times. For hot lobster dishes the lobster should be live and killed by piercing the brain just before cooking, while freshly boiled lobster is used in cold dishes.



A summer soft fruit, similar to the raspberry but bigger and more acid. Makes excellent jam, or purée for ice creams or fools.



The part of an animal's carcass from the tail to the ribs. A saddle of lamb consists of the two loins still joined together; the same cut in beef is called a baron of beef.


Lovage (Levisticum officinale)

A perennial herb with a strong flavour of celery. The lovage has a serrated leaf of greenish grey colour.


Luting paste

When a pâté is being cooked it is desirable to keep the steam in the terrine; a luting paste made of flour and water is used to seal the lid of the terrine.



A fruit from China, shaped something like a cherry and growing in bunches on a tree, like the cherry. It has a thin shell, easily removed and the flesh within has a pinky-white colour, the texture of a muscat grape and a very delicate flavour. Sometimes lychees are dried in the shell, when they look like raisins, but can usually be bought in cans and sometimes fresh.



A term meaning that a dish originated in the region of Lyons, in France, noted for its fine onions and potatoes. The region is an important one gastronomically and gave rise to many specialities like quenelles de brochet, gras double lyonnaise, pâtés and sausages.