Do you ever see pretentious French terms on menus and wish you knew what they meant without having to look up their meaning? Perhaps you choose a dish in a restaurant which includes sautéd greens, but you have no idea what they exactly are. Well, let me help you with this one at least. And talk about Ancient Greek philosophers and heraldry too, naturally.
Sautéd means fried quickly in a little oil or fat, and often (but not necessarily) tossed while frying. Not too different from stir frying, really. The term comes from the modern French verb sauter (to jump), in reference to the tossing of the food during cooking.
Sauter comes from the Latin saltare (to hop, dance), from which we also get the English word salient. It now generally refers to a point in an argument, and means most important or relevant (i.e. it jumps out at you), but is also used in heraldry, referring to an animal in a leaping position.
Interestingly enough, the term salient point was a biological one long before it came to refer to a point in an argument or discussion. It comes from Aristotle, who used an Ancient Greek term with the same meaning to refer to the embryonic heart inside opened eggs, which he believed still beat, or leaped. Well, if you’re going to sauté your eggs, what do you expect?