I've been thinking about some tricky, closely related words out there lately. They have to do with food, fashion, and furniture. And they seem to sow confusion where ever they go.
First off, there's the alliterative trio of tuile, toile, and tulle:
Tuile (rhymes with "wheel") is a very thin cookie that can be served flat, rolled, or in a cup shape. These are tuiles:
If you want to know more about tuile, Joe Pastry has a series of postings about the cookie, including how it got its name (which means "tile" in French). Poke around here to read more.
Toile (rhymes with "wall") is a fabric pattern that often features people and animals in a pastoral setting:
A toile car--with chairs for seats. Hysterical!
Tulle (rhymes with "school") is a net-like fabric, often seen in prom dresses and tutus. This is tulle:
Tuile, toile, tulle: okay now?
Macaroon and macaron are easy to get mixed up. (If you go to Wikipedia, you'll be even more confused so enter this site at your own risk.)
Wikipedia's dubious explanations aside, most bakers and foodies agree that a macaroon is a dense, chewy cookie, often made with shredded coconut. It is also flourless, which means macaroons show up in a lot of Passover meals. This is a macaroon:
A macaron (pronounced ma-ca-ROHn, in your best French accent, s'il vous plait) is a cookie made of two very tender meringue discs, joined together with a layer of frosting or ganache. The darling of many foodies, some macarons out there are simply overpriced mini hockey pucks. But a good one is worth plonking down some serious pocket change. This is a macaron:
Macaroon/macaron: both yummy cookies.
Another pair of words that seems to trip up a lot of folks: chaise longue and lounge chair.
It's easy to get confused with these guys, because it mashes up two languages--French and English. And, once again, Wikipedia isn't going to make things much clearer for you. Most interior decorators will agree that chaise longue (rhymes with "says long") is basically a chair long enough to support one's outstretched legs. (It means "long chair" in French.) A chaise longue can have one arm, like this:
A lounge chair, on the other hand, is not a "long chair," in the French sense, but a chair for lounging around on. A bunch of different chairs can claim to be lounge chairs, from things you'd see by the pool:
to things that look like they're from a 1970s nightmare:
But they're all comfy to lounge in, and that's what makes them lounge chairs.
Longue vs. lounge: You can lounge in a chaise longue, but you can't longue in a lounge chair. Got it?
And just to thoroughly confuse you, there's Recamier:
Which is both the last name of this lovely lady, and the name of this type of sofa, on which she liked to recline.