Diced into two, five or eight millimetre cubes, in the culinary world, such vegetables are called Brunoise, Jardiniere and Macedoine respectively and are used either as a garnish or as ingredients. Mirepoix vegetables are diced and used to flavour brown stock. Cutting is therefore less precise and the size is determined by the cooking time. Thinly sliced, they are called paysanne vegetables for a garnish or matignon vegetables if they are to be ingredients for stock or soups.
Once washed and peeled, potatoes can be diced, cut into sticks, sliced into rounds, scooped into balls and even turned. Cut into sticks, they are called straws, matchsticks, chips or Pommes Pont-Neuf (thickly cut French fries). In rounds, they are used, for example, to make gratins. Pommes parisiennes are shaped into small, round balls. They are scooped out of potatoes with a half spherical spoon. A turned potato is carved with a knife and traditionally has seven sides. Depending on its length, it is called a cocotte, château, vapeur or fondante potato.
A paring knife is used not just for peeling, but also for making ‘spaghetti’ with carrots, courgettes or other vegetables.
Vegetables can also be carved into truly ephemeral works of art for decorating dishes and tables. In Asian countries, vegetable carving is an ancestral art which originated in China between the 10th and 13th centuries CE. Carvings were then created for the Emperor and his Court. During the 20th century, this art became increasingly popular for fruit as well, cut to resemble leaves, flowers or geometric shapes.