menu items---countable or uncountable?


Senior Member
Which one would you say, if you are explaining it at a French restaurant to your friend who doesn't know what it is?

"Faux filet au poivre" is (a?) pepper steak."---I think with "a" sounds good for this one, but I would like to know what native speakers think.

Or, I think I can say it without "a", and say "'Faux filet au poivre' is sirloin with pepper." to say that "sirloin with pepper" is the translation of the French words."

"Saumon légumes" is (a?) salmon with vegetables."----I think this one sounds better without "a" because you don't eat a whole fish, but not sure what native speakers would say.

Thank you.
  • mikichan

    Senior Member
    Thank you, Parla.

    It's difficult for me as a non-native speaker to guess correctly whether to use "a" or not for food and dishes.

    Could you kindly tell me if by omitting "a", you treat the steak and the salmon as uncountable, or make the sentences the translations for the French words?

    If Parla or any native speaker could comment on the post, I'd appreciate it.

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    English - US
    Sirloin with (black) pepper. Some amount cut from a whole sirloin roast. Uncountable.
    Steak with pepper. Some amount cut from a larger steak. Uncountable.
    A sirloin steak with pepper. A whole steak. Countable.
    Salmon with vegetables. Some amount cut from a whole salmon. Uncountable.
    A piece of salmon with vegetables. As you said, no one eats an entire salmon. Countable.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think all are uncountable, regardless of 'pieces from' or other arguments that they aren't. We all understand that you get a portion of whatever it is, not the whole lot. It has to do with convention not logic or even grammar rules.



    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    If you are giving an exact equivalent or word-for-word gloss, don't use an article. Therefore, 'Crème Anglaise is English cream', or 'Crème Anglaise is custard'. If you give a descriptive gloss the article might be appropriate. So you might say, 'Tart tatin is an upside-down apple tart.'

    Your examples seem to be exact equivalents, so no article is necessary.
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