Pardonez-moi?

I don’t know if this is something that’s endemic to just English-speaking populaces or what, but what’s with people trying to use foreign words and phrases when they obviously have no idea what the word or phrase means? Do they think it makes them sound more intelligent or something—’cause trust me, it doesn’t (or are you simply choosing to ignore the snickers and giggles around you?).

Today’s example: the French phrase au jus. Everyone knows what that means, right? I mean, take Quiznos and their new Steakhouse Beef Dip sandwich, advertised as being served with a delicious “pan-roasted au jus“. Mmm mmm mmm, gotta love that yummy au jus, don’tcha?

Well… no. The phrase au jus literally means “with juice”, as in the natural juices that are produced while a meat is cooked. So you can talk about serving a prime rib au jus, and that is indeed some tasty eating. To say something is served “with au jus” simply makes no sense. And you’d know that if you actually knew what au jus meant instead of just blindly throwing around a culinary term just to seem all hoity-toity.

The phrase that I’d guess 99 out of 100 people are looking for is jus lié, which refers to a sauce made of slightly thickened meat juice. But if you can’t be expected to know what au jus means, trying to throw around jus lié would probably make your poor little head explode.