Beuchelle, Beuschel.

In this thread, Syntinen Laulu asked about an obscure French culinary term, beuchelle à la tourangelle, “lamb’s kidneys and sweetbreads in a cream sauce flamed off with cognac”:

I couldn’t help being struck by the similarity of the name to the traditional Viennese dish Beuschel. Beuschel isn’t the same of course – it’s made of calf heart and lungs. But it is also a ragout of offal in cream sauce, and that’s a fairly close similarity.

So, it seems to me there are roughly three possibilities:

1. Pure coincidence, which as we all know can perfectly well throw up pairs of similar but unrelated words in different languages.

2. Direct borrowing, e.g an Austrian cook living in Touraine might have devised a little ragout of lamb’s offal and named it after the offal ragout of his home town. […]

3. The existence of a root word, maybe Old Germanic, meaning perhaps something like ‘offal’ or ‘stew’, outcropping in both French and Austrian German.

As I said in my response:

Neither the Trésor de la langue française informatisé nor the Dictionnaire de l’Académie française has “beuchelle,” so it’s definitely a very marginal part of the French vocabulary. While I’m normally quick to remind people about the possibility of coincidence in such matters, here it seems to me far more likely that the French is borrowed from the German; the details of the offal involved are exactly the sort of thing that would be likely to vary. But I’ll be interested to see if anyone knows more.



  1. David Marjanović says

    Borrowing eu as eu wouldn’t even have to go through the spelling: the Viennese pronunciation of eu is something close to the half-mythical [ɶ].

  2. German Wikipedia says the term is general for all kinds of organs (and that “Beuscheltelefon” is dialect for “stethoscope”!), so variations in the ingredients probably aren’t that big of a deal.

    This has “Beuschel” as a variant of onomatopoetic “Bausch” …so I now wonder how related “Beuschel” might be to other suspiciously similar words like pouch, bushel, German “Bauch”, “Pauschal”, etc.

  3. half-mythical [ɶ]

    There’s nothing mythical about [ɶ] at all, it’s completely standard for post-rhotic /œ/ in Danish.

    /ɶ/ is of course another matter.

    If you can’t make sense of the above, your default web font has the same merger of œ (U+0153) and ɶ (U+0276) as mine. Try copy-pasting into a text editor and playing with the font settings. On my Mac (OS X 10.10.5), Helvetica conflates them (both look like U+0153) and Arial does not.

  4. Here’s a connection with Austria: a (famous?) cook from Touraine called Edouard Nignon (1865-1934) worked for Franz-Joseph of Austria. This link says he “reinvented” an old dish of offal and “sauce Blanche”. The implication is that he exported it to Austria, hence the naming similarity. Since no sources are given, I can’t vouch for the truth of the assertion, but I’d say it’s an interesting candidate.

  5. Here’s Nignon’s recipe being described with the German word:

  6. “Beuschel” is pronounced [baiʃl] in Vienna. I only know it as a way to jokingly refer to the human lung, and of course the dish. (eu), (äu) or other creative spellings are sometimes used to render the Viennese [ɶ] sound resulting from some vowels + /l/, but this is not such a case.
    It’s clearly a diminutive of “Bausch”, so something puffed up. According to Kluge, it originally was used to refer to bunched up clothes, then innards. The use for the dish seems to date only to the 19th century.

  7. David Marjanović says

    There’s nothing mythical about [ɶ] at all, it’s completely standard for post-rhotic /œ/ in Danish.

    Danish is legendary itself :-þ

    /ɶ/ is of course another matter.

    Yes, and the eastern Austrian dialects are supposed to have a distinction between /œ/ (el) and /ɶ/ (eu/äu/eil). This sounds right from my experience in Vienna, though I can’t think of a minimal pair right now.

  8. Yeah, i lookd up in the Kluge too, it seems cleer that ‘beuschel’ is the original word, coming from ‘bausch’, meening wad, bundle of fluf. And the Nignon conection seems cleer too. So probbably he lernd the recipe in Vien and braut it bak to Tourain, using just lams kidnys. If he had braut it from Tourain to Vien, the dish would hav alreddy a name, an originaly french name. And he certanly would keep it in Austria, since dishes with french names sound mor delicius for the speekers of enny other languages (exept for chinese and the like, who hav no idea of the difrences between european nations).

  9. Looks tasty!

  10. David Marjanović says

    “Beuschel” is pronounced [baiʃl] in Vienna.

    (How did I miss this last time? – I found this now while looking for something completely different.)

    There is no [ai] or even [ɛɪ] in Vienna; do you mean ei, i.e. [ɛ̞]? That would indeed argue for a derivation from Bausch.

  11. I’m glad you ran across that and responded; I’d been wondering which was correct (way back in 2016, not recently).

Speak Your Mind