What is the generic term for something that is used in food preparation, typically to impart flavour, but is removed from the dish before it is served?

For instance, a bouquet garni is a specific example - a bunch of dried herbs that is discarded after cooking. Another example would be cinnamon stick, or clove ("spice" is not the term I am looking for here).

I'm not really a foodie, but this one has been wracking my brain, and none of my friends can provide an answer.

  • 1
    I think you need to distinguish between 'edible' and 'digestible'. We eat lots of things that we do not digest. They are called 'roughage' among other things.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 20:38
  • 1
    Although the question is perfectly on-topic here, it is possible that the contributors to the 'Seasoned Advice' Stack Exchange are in a better position to provide the most precise answer.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 21:55
  • I've never come across such a word in English at any rate so I looked up both bay leaf and bouquet garni on line. I found several sites and recipes which referred to them and described their use but none of them said anything other than "added to the dish while cooking but removed before serving". I believe that if there was such a term at least one of those sites would have used it. The best term is probably "bouquet garni" since the removal before serving is part of its definition.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:36
  • 1
    I would call it an "outgredient".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 0:18

3 Answers 3



...something that is added to food or drink to give it a particular taste:

-Cambridge dictionary online

This seems to be a generic term. I cannot think of anything I would put in food that is not actually edible in powdered or crumbled form. Even Bay leaves have been called poisonous, and cooks are told to remove them, but the real reason for removing spices such as these before serving is that they do not pass through the digestive tract easily.

  • 1
    When I said "not itself edible", I was not being really accurate. They would likely be edible in powdered or crumbled form. I guess what I meant was a type of flavouring ingredient that is not palatable "as is" and is discarded before the dish is served. Perhaps there is no word for it in English, but maybe in a language like French?
    – Sean South
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 20:24
  • 1
    @SeanSouth You should edit to reflect that. I have had this answer "on hold" for 3 hours waiting for more user input. We NEED accuracy to formulate answers, otherwise, you get closed for "unclear". Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 20:40
  • 1
    So you are actually looking for a translation? Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 20:44
  • @Sean - is it removed before the dish is served or before the dish is eaten? If the latter is a possibility, then "garnish" is a most appropriate suggestion. However, that exact answer is given below, and it is not drawing praise at the moment.
    – user22542
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:54

I think immediately of a bay leaf. I would suggest a "seasoning" or maybe more generally and "enhancer or enhancement". One last suggestion that I can make is an "aromatic" addition, but sometimes these are eaten, and sometimes they are not.




  • Salt and pepper are both seasonings which are edible. You don't normally eat bay leaves. The OP wants a term that differentiates the two.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:00
  • Hi Mari-Lou. Most spices (including bouquet garni, cinnamon sticks, and cloves) are edible and , in fact, they are eaten as the chemical flavor/aromatic components that they impart to the food. Most flavor enhancers added to foods are herbal. Most herbs used as seasoning, especially when fresh or whole, can be added, not eaten, and removed. Salt is an exception because it is a mineral and it dissolves in the dish. Seasoning is the most appropriate word. Otherwise "garnish" answers the question. If not acceptable, then perhaps the OP might consider "sprigs of ___"
    – user22542
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:24
  • As you rightly mentioned, most spices are edible, and even dried star anise can be eaten if they are finely crushed, so the term seasoning is not the answer because it is too generic.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:27
  • "Bouquet garni" is extremely generic. It can generally contain anything aromatic to enhance flavor. I did add an "aromatic" to the answer. Maybe it will suffice.
    – user22542
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:32

Garnish- to add decorative or savory touches to (food or drink) He garnished the fish with parsley leaves.

Enricher- enhances the taste of.

Decoration/Ornament-something that adorns, enriches, or beautifies

Adornment- enhances the appearance of, especially with beautiful objects.

Gilt-covered with gold or gilt : of the color of gold

FrouFrou-showy or frilly ornamentation

  • The first suggestion is not bad, but the other three (four?) suggestions are totally incorrect. Bay leaves, star anise, whole vanilla beans or cinnamon sticks are not meant to be eaten by themselves but they infuse aroma and help enhance, compliment or contrast the flavours of a dish. They are not "frou frou", "ornaments", or "adornments".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 12:12
  • I disagree, only enricher fits well in this context. I also disagree with the 2 down votes because I added a good word to the list.
    – J j
    Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 23:53

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