Shellfish soup with paper and rust

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With three different kinds of paper, no less. Last week I spent a couple of days at a hotel in the Hague. In the elevator, there were advertisements for the hotel's restaurant, featuring among other things a dish described in English as


The Dutch version confirmed my guess that the "rust" was rouille:


Rouille does mean "rust" in French, but in this context it would be translated into English as into Dutch as "rouille" — as Wikipedia explains, it's

… a sauce that consists of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers. It is served as a garnish with fish, fish soup and, notably, bouillabaisse.

I figured that the "drie sorten papier" must refer metaphorically to some kind of crepe-like-things made with rouille-ish ingredients. But after consulting several Dutch dictionaries — including the offerings at the Geïntegreerde Taal-Bank of the Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie, I can't find any evidence that papier means anything relevantly culinary.

So either (1) there's a culinary paper-word unknown to the Instituut voor Nederlandse Lexicologie; or (2) the Dutch description itself is a faulty translation from some other language (maybe the word for pepper was translated as "paper", or something like that?); or  (3)  the soup is served with three paper cups of different kinds of rouille; or (3) the soup really is somehow made with three kinds of paper — a confetti garnish?

No doubt readers with expertise in Dutch menu-language will be able to help me out in the comments.




  1. Avinor said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

    Think you meant:

    De *Ge*ïntegreerde Taal-Bank

    (my emphasis).

    Was struggling there for a while to understand why anyone would benefit from a "de-integrated" language database… :)

  2. Peter said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

    Dutch (Flemish) is my maternal language, and I must admit it doesn't make any sense to me either. But then again, some words do have slightly different meanings in the Netherlands compared to Flanders.

    Also "Van de ingrediënten" sounds strange to me in this context, but that might be just me as well, i would have used "met ingrediënten van" if i was just taking ingredients out of the sauce (which i have never heard of either)…. Now it sounds to me like they are using something that was in the possession of the ingredients which is silly.

    The whole thing just doesn't make to much sense to me..

    Sorry i couldn't help, language really isn't my forte to be honest

  3. Doctor Science said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    I bet that the dish is made with three kinds of *pepper*. Or possibly three kinds of Capsicum peppers, hot and/or sweet. And that the person who wrote down the info was not on the kitchen staff, and was probably on the phone with them, working in noise and haste.

  4. marie-lucie said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

    La rouille is indeed a type of spicy, garlicky sauce from the Mediterranean area, served with fish soup or fish dishes including the Marseillaise bouillabaisse. I don't know Dutch but it is most likely that the three "papers" among the ingredients are "peppers" (for instance, red, yellow and green).

  5. marie-lucie said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    "With the ingredients of rouille" probably means that those ingredients are included within the fish soup, rather than the sauce (or rather condiment) being served separately.

  6. paulr said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:42 pm

    I suggest they mean aardappelpapier, literally potato paper. Pictures and recipe here:

    Mashed potato and egg white, flattened and baked.

    To flavour three of them differently rouille-style, they'd use peppers, garlic and saffron respectively, perhaps.

  7. Victor Mair said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    I recall that Mark already treated the problem of rouille / "rust" in the first menu item here:

    "Believed ham"

  8. Wim said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    My girlfriend suggests that Doctor Science may be right. However, there is also a possibility that the chef meant "three kinds of wrap with different ingredients of rouille", or a preparation with enveloppe or papillote.

  9. John said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    I go with the three-kinds-of-pepper theory. As a Brit living in Amsterdam, I can attest that the Dutch pronounce their word peper roughly the way I say paper. Was the Dutch peper misheard as the English paper, and then translated into French?

  10. Frans said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

    As a native speaker of Netherlandic-Dutch, I'd say it's shorthand for "drie soorten papier [gemaakt] van de ingrediënten van rouille." This reading is supported by other menu items like "een crème van bosui en basilicum." I'll also note that here in Antwerp you see plenty of menu items like "garnituur van selder & wortel," which besides selderij is no different than in the Netherlands.

    The site has some other oddities, like "deze site in Nederlands," which sounds rather too much like "this site in English." Proper Dutch would be "deze site in het Nederlands."

    As to the "peper" explanation, the Dutch word for bell pepper is paprika—unless the suggestion consists of three types of sharp peppers.

    I'd say it's simply three different types of rouille as garnish, possibly in paper cups—that's the closest I can come to making sense of it.

  11. Frans said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

    I just realized I forgot to mention this explicitly, but the Dutch text actually says something subtly different than the English text: "a shellfish bisque with three types of paper from the ingredients of rouille."

  12. Bobbie said,

    September 15, 2013 @ 7:48 pm

    It may not apply here, but there are rice paper wrappers which are used to make spring rolls and other appetizers.

  13. Peter said,

    September 16, 2013 @ 7:39 am


    You may be right, the fact that the rest of the website is written in such poor Dutch only leads me to support the theory that it's machine translated from french or English (and then back to English perhaps ?)

  14. ShadowFox said,

    September 17, 2013 @ 12:41 am

    I would suggest that the literal translation is actually fairly accurate but misses some syntactic marking.

    "Paper" may well be "edible paper", which is made from varieties of starchy ingredients (including potatoes, as noted above) and used to introduce concentrated but separate flavors into dishes. So, on the whole, I would read this as a deconstructed bouillabaisse with three of the major flavoring ingredients–saffron, garlic and capsucum, perhaps–introduced via edible paper that, in itself, serves as a substitute for breadcrumbs. Chalk it up to molecular gastronomy.

    My initial guess was "en papillote", but that is actually harder to make sense of here. I have seen bisque served en papillote, where you have to break down the wrapper and pour the liquid ingredients over the "protein" to complete the soup, but then "drei soorten" makes no sense. But this gives rise to another possibility, as fish and shellfish are the most common ingredients served "en papillote".

    So here's the other possibility that makes sense culinarily: a rouille-style bisque served with three kinds of shellfish en papillote. That is, you get three small parchment envelopes with your order that contain different types of shellfish (or one envelope with three kinds of shellfish) to be opened into a plate of thick, bisque-like rouille. So read this as "EEN BISQUE [VAN [SCHAALDIEREN MET DRIE SOORTEN PAPIER]] VAN DE INGREDIËNTEN VAN ROUILLE". Perhaps this indeed was originally a French description that had been poorly translated.

    Either way, I would expect the soup to be "deconstructed"–that is, all major components served separately to be assembled into a whole dish on the plate.

  15. Frans said,

    September 17, 2013 @ 3:52 am

    One doesn't need a machine to write bad Dutch, and I know of no statistical or rule-based online machine translation sites that would omit the article when translating from English or French to Dutch.* Then again, it would be patently absurd to discount the possibility of machine involvement in 2013. Still, I think it proves that the phrase "deze site in Nederlands" is either fully human, or contains a human-introduced error in spite of a perfect machine translation.

    * But I only checked Bing, Google, and Systranet.

    How about a mishearing involving pêcher, which sounds a little bit like (French, not Dutch) papier? I don't know sufficient French, let alone culinary French, to know whether this would be done, but one might distinguish three types of caught shellfish from three types of regular old bred shellfish. In this hypothesis, the verb caught would be expressed through some inflection like pêché.

    However, I'll immediately contradict my own long-shot hypothesis by noting that "This special restaurant concept of NH Hoteles has been developed in Spain." However, I haven't been able to get much information out of the Spanish counterparts.

  16. AlexB said,

    September 17, 2013 @ 6:57 am

    The menu is strange indeed. I checked just now, and they offered


    Which is definitely not grammatical French (should be 'neuves'). Most of the other descriptions don't look like normal Dutch to my Flemish sensibility. Following the Spanish hypothesis of Frans, I binged 'sopa' and 'papel', but got nothing useful.

  17. Frans said,

    September 17, 2013 @ 10:23 am


    Which is definitely not grammatical French (should be 'neuves').

    I think they're trying to say Pommes Pont-neuf, not new fries. I guess they felt too fancy to simply say patat or friet. Speaking of which, shouldn't their Parisian butter be named sauce (ou beurre) Café de Paris?

    Following the Spanish hypothesis of Frans, I binged 'sopa' and 'papel', but got nothing useful.

    A simple search term combination of papel with shell suggests that paper society (sociedad de papel) is a possible Spanish way of saying shell company.

    NB I mention this merely as a curiosity.

  18. Gerard said,

    September 17, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

    I sent them a mail. Here's their reply:

    "De 3 soorten papier bij de bisque zijn inderdaad eetpapier. De ingrediënten van Rouille zijn knoflook, paprika en saffraan, uit deze 3 ingrediënten bestaat het papier." (The three types of paper indeed are edible paper. The ingredients of rouille are garlic, paprika and saffron, these three ingredients make up the paper.)

  19. marie-lucie said,

    September 17, 2013 @ 7:37 pm

    pommes neuf

    I agree that the most likely translation is pommes Pont-Neuf, pommes here meaning 'potatoes' not 'apples'.

    'New potatoes' (harvested early) would not be pommes neuves but pommes de terre nouvelles. The word neuf/neuve means 'new' in the context of a newly made object, as in Pont-Neuf lit. 'New-Bridge', but a vegetable is not a manufactured object.

  20. Barbara Partee said,

    September 18, 2013 @ 2:01 am

    Wow, I'm bowled over by Gerard's actually sending them an e-mail to ask them what they meant! It really makes me smile. All this conjecturing, and then just ask them! Or was that cheating? ;-)

  21. Language Blog Roundup: Friends, kill the apostrophe, James Franco | Wordnik said,

    September 20, 2013 @ 8:03 am

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