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« Les concombres épicés ont été piqués de gousses d'ail. »

My translation: The spiced cucumbers have been made even more spicy with cloves of garlic.

I don’t understand how "piquer" is different in meaning from "relever" or "assaisonner". These three verbs seem so similar and confusing to me.

« Les concombres épicés ont été relevés de gousses d'ail. »

« Les concombres épicés ont été assaisonnés de gousses d'ail. »

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    With cucumbers and other veggies your translation of “piqués de gousses d'ail” may very well be correct, but when meat is involved (especially lamb), I’ve always interpreted “piqués a l'ail” to mean literally to be “pierced/implanted with garlic cloves,” as is being done here to what appears to be a chicken breast. Of course, this is done to season the meat/give it a taste/hint of garlic, but I don’t think, with meat at least, that “piqué” means to season or give a spicy taste to [the meat]. – Papa Poule Nov 15 '16 at 19:36
  • « piqué » is not spicy, « piquant » is spicy (at least in foods). Talking about foods, « piqué » sense is from its literal meaning, with "spikes/stings". – Larme Nov 16 '16 at 16:02
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tl;dr

Conclusion part:

While assaisonner or relever characterize how you are seasonning your meal, piquer some piece of food with another is a culinary technique to season a meal.

Piqué

Short, meaning

As @PapaPoule comment said, "piqué" is used to talk about some piece of food which has been pricked with another, or with some spice, which have been leaved inside, to add taste during cooking.


Dictionary

The 13th meaning of piquer from wiktionary is accurate :

  1. Larder.

    Piquer de gros lard un morceau de bœuf, Le larder avec de gros lardons.

The etymology of this meaning seems to first involve meat but now it can be approximately used with any piece of food.


pics or it didn't happen

You can find recipes using this technique :


Other

assaisonné

It is adding spices with no particular connotation, it can be soft or hot.

Wiktionary meaning :

Accommoder un mets avec les ingrédients qu’il faut pour le rendre plus agréable au goût.


relevé

It is adding spices but, this time, to make it hot[ter].

17th wiktionary meaning :

  1. (Cuisine) Donner un goût plus piquant, un plus haut goût à des assaisonnements, à des sauces, à des ragoûts.

Conclusion

While assaisonner or relever characterize how you are seasonning your meal, piquer some piece of food with another is a culinary technique to season a meal.

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Your translation is not correct. At least french natives will not interpret it like that. Piqués de gousses d'ail is a common term in culinary recipes to say implanted with garlic cloves.

On the other side assaisonner indeed means to season or to dress when speaking of a meal or a salad. Relevé in culinary terms is closer to hot, while épicé is spicy.

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