Demystifying Professional Kitchen Vocabulary and Understanding the Term Salamander
Curious what a slimy, lizard-like creature is doing in the kitchen? We were too. Well, in all fairness, we knew a salamander was a piece of restaurant equipment, but we were still curious how a heat producing, shiny piece of metal came to be known as a salamander.
Living near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I’ve stumbled upon this endangered creature multiple times, but just to clear up any confusion, I’ve yet to see a single one broil, grill, toast, caramelize, or glaze a single dish.
Turns out, the relation actually comes from the Greek word “salamander” which means, “fire animal.” Despite the fact that salamanders live in cool, damp places, there was some confusion amongst the Greeks regarding the creation process of these little creatures.
According to cooksinfo.com, legend suggests that salamanders would leap from the hot flames of fires after being caught in damp logs where they would make their homes. Thus, it appeared as if the salamanders were rising from the flames when in fact they were simply escaping heat similar to the temperatures today’s kitchen salamanders produce.
Regardless, today we call the tool many chefs rely on to finish off meals a salamander. Lets just hope the “fire animal” of today’s kitchen is used with caution and remains to have nothing to do with slimy amphibians.