My passion in equal quantities is for languages and food. The two are intimately connected, and both reveal so much about the history and culture of a country.



L A N G U A G E • E X P E R T

A number of years ago, my brother qualified as a chef. I was struck by how much he, and his fellow students battled with the pronunciation of the classic French food terms.

They were given French classes, but French is a difficult language to learn and pronounce. I majored in French and Spanish, so I decided to make a reference handy for them, and this proved so successful, that more students lined up for it.

Out of that came my idea to start a website, that would not merely provide students in the culinary arts with audio, but give them full reference point so that they could understand how and why a word was pronounced a certain way.

  • This evolved into the first online quadri-lingual food and wine glossary with audio, which I continue to expand daily. Where appropriate, words are given in English, French, Italian and Spanish (Spanish being differentiated into South American and European Spanish).

  • These languages in particular, because they are among the languages I know best, and because so many students gain experience in kitchens in these parts of Europe.

  • French, Spanish and Italian share a common ancestor, Latin, and so words for the same thing can be almost identical, or vary wildly. If you see them all side by side, you gain an insight into these languages which is simply missing when you focus on one language at a time.


“I provide the grammar that helps students and users (I have spilled over to general food enthusiasts all over the world, as well as travelers) understand the effects of gender on pronunciation. A student presented with ‘sauces blanches’, and ‘fond blanc’ just cannot understand why the word for ‘white’ sounds different in these two terms. It becomes easier to understand when this is explained repeatedly with reference to the given term, rather than as a broad grammatical concept.”

– Marie-Ora

Of course, the questions keep coming, and the database keeps expanding, and has spilled over into other categories of words – I’m happy to add words as users request them, and I have had requests from how to pronounce the names of companies, to luxury goods, to people in the media, to the basic greetings in the different languages.

I’m always up for a challenge – ask, and you will receive, if it is at all possible.

I’m apt to add in words from other languages whatever I speak, because the way they are said in another language conveys my sentiments better.
Questions are not restricted to these three languages – if I don’t know the language, I will find someone who does – I have hunted down and added the pronunciation of words from Icelandic and Croatian.
I recently added up, and I’ve studied no fewer than 8 languages at university level, 9 if you include school. I do not speak all these languages fluently – in fact there is some debate whether I speak any language fluently.
And some languages (like Zulu) are confined to song lyrics (Johnny Clegg and Juluka and Savuka), and equally useful sentences such as “don’t throw out my cats”, and “I would like some tea, please”, which I gladly share here, because you never know when they may come in handy.
How To Say Marie

chcefMy other great interest is in tracking dishes in the various European cuisines. There are dishes, such as ratatouille and caponata that share elements and ingredients. Sometimes the link is more distant. For instance, my ear, and the ingredients tell me that escabèche and ceviche are somehow related, but I’m still researching that one.

Pesto once upon a time was a sauce consisting of pine-nuts, olive oil, basil, and parmigiano. Now anything that can be ground up into a sauce can be called a pesto. At what point can a dish no longer lay claim to the name of the original?

Taxonomy is another fascination. I love to study recipes, from Carême, to Escoffier, to modern chefs, to see where they fit in, and how they grow and change.

I’ve forgotten most of my Latin, except for the general principles, but I try to drop sentences like *’Crassum culum pinguem habet’ into conversations to remind people that despite my extreme absent-mindedness, I have a brain and culture on my side.

That, and the ability to walk my dogs in very high heels….

* Crassus has a fatty ass

My friend Vanessa is the French and Italian First Language Speaker on audio – she was born and educated in Rome, and she lived in Paris for years. She is disgracefully fluent in English, French, Italian and Greek, and quite competent in Afrikaans and Spanish (she also lived in Spain for a few years). Her sharp eyes have spotted many a mortifying error which I had overlooked (culpa mea), and her contribution is invaluable.

L A N G U A G E • W O R D S • P R O N U N C I A T I O N

The main languages are French, Italian and Spanish, with a small section of German but if you have questions about other languages, ask and you may well receive. I love a challenge, and will do my utmost to help you.

Chefs, gourmets, cooking students and students in the hospitality industry will find a comprehensive list of cooking terms and foods cross-referenced across French, Italian and Spanish in the database.

I go to great lengths to ensure my pronunciations and explanations are correct – I have contacts in most of Europe, and I will phone up, skype and hunt down individuals and companies to check if I have to. If you find anything you disagree with, let me know – your input and debate is welcomed and can only make the site better.

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a note from Marie-Ora:


A letter to my readers...

Hi and thank you for viewing my profile.

Do you love the good things in life? Food, wine, travel and luxury goods?

I help people from any background pronounce names in foreign languages they have never studied.

Simply put, we help you demystify the pronunciations of languages like French, Italian, Spanish and German, to name a few.

I specialize in making pronunciation of foreign words simple for English speakers, regardless of what language they come from.

You know how difficult it can be to pronounce the name of an Italian wine or French menu item can be if you haven’t studied the language, right?

Up to now, you’ve had to fumble through your best guess or simply point at the name to avoid having to say it altogether.

Everyone thinks they have to study languages to be able to pronounce them. That’s not true! All you need is the correct audio to listen to and a simple phonetic spelling that doesn’t look like Greek to guide you. is an easy to use resource that provides gourmets, wine lovers, and destination traveler, as well as students studying gourmet food and sommelier skills. If you forget a word, you can easily look it up on the go.

The world has become a global village and people are rappelling more than ever.

While a minority have the time and opportunity to study European languages, most people don’t relish the thought of the dedication, not to mention the dreaded grammar aspect involved. If you’ve always wanted to sound like a jet setter who knows their way around French, Italian, Spanish and other European languages, you will find it’s easier than you think.

Go to and browse through the database by language or by category. The most important gourmet and champagne and wine terms are all there, with a snapshot description as well as audio and a simplified phonetic respelling which will help you to pronounce foreign words quickly and confidently.

If you want any more information or have any queries about, click on the link below and send me a message.