The subtleties of the French language combine very well with gastronomy and cuisine

Dominique Mataillet publishes “We haven’t finished talking about it! – Tasty dictionary of the subtleties, ambiguities and inconsistencies of the French language ”published by Favre.

It is an understatement to say that cooking and good food occupy an important place among the French. And that they are proud of it. Especially because in 2010 its “gastronomic meal” was listed as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

It is necessary to emphasize the ubiquity, in its daily talk, of everything related to the food. Some expressions and phrases such as “put the grain of salt”, “make a whole cheese” (or “a whole dish”), “have bread on the board”, “roll in flour”, “puree” , “cut the pear in half”, “hard”, “half fig, half grape”, “green and unripe” appear regularly in conversations.

Expressions abound around the mere act of eating. “We bite the bites,” “we don’t bite words.” You can make your mouth water and be demanding. “Eating with the wooden horses” is tantamount to having nothing to eat and “eating the rabid cow” to being subjected to severe deprivation. “Eating behind the scenes”, that is, taking advantage, unscrupulously, of all situations is not much better than “eating the piece” (or “sitting down to eat”), synonymous with confessing or denouncing mobsters). .

From the “peach” you flank to someone who doesn’t have a head, to the “plum” you find on the windshield, to “the icing on the cake” and the “apple of the fight”, all varieties of fruits and vegetables are included. “Not having a radish” means running out of money. “Having wheat” is not lacking. Someone who interferes in your business, especially if he “tells you nonsense,” asks you to “take care of his business.” Unless you “pass it a banana peel” by setting a trap to prevent it from reaching the goal that has been set.

One day you can “catch the peach” (or “the potato”, or even “the fries”) and the next day “fall on the apples”. “Sweetening strawberries” takes hold of tremors, especially in the hands; not to be far from death, the truth.

Special mention to cabbage, which has long played an essential role in the diet of the French, and Europeans in general. What nicer formula of tenderness than “my cabbage”? “Forgiving the goat and the cabbage” is getting to meet conflicting requirements, while “taking out a blank space” is failing and “getting into someone’s cabbage” is beating them. You can “do your thing” with something, that is, take advantage of it, or “go and plant your cabbage”, which is equivalent to retiring to the field.

After the products of the kitchen garden and the kitchen garden, the own culinary preparations. “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”: to get a result, you have to accept sacrifices. When “the carrots are cooked,” the game is over, there is no hope. “Mayonnaise takes over” means things fit. “For lack of thrushes, we eat blackbirds”: if we can not access our desires, we are content with what we have. “Giving jam to a pig” is spoiling something.

We live “like a rooster in the dough” when we lead a comfortable and welcoming existence. A man or woman who stands still, showing a look of astonishment, is said to “make blackbird eyes fry.” When “the mustard goes off your nose,” it’s because you’re starting to get angry. By “farce turkey” we mean the victim of a deception that is the object of everyone’s mockery.

“Passing the hot potato” means unloading an embarrassing affair on someone. As everyone knows, “a cream cake” is a common place and “stew” is a poor quality object or show. The soup lends itself to many metaphors. If “spitting in the soup” is to despise or even criticize what is being taken advantage of, “going to the soup” means taking advantage of a source of money without worrying about where it comes from, while “serving the soup.” “For someone, it’s acting in their favor, out of complacency or discomfort. Also, as people get older,” it’s in the old pots where we make good soup “: the experience is guaranteed quality. .

In this family of gastronomic idioms, butter, associated with refinement and opulence, occupies a prominent place. “Making your own butter” from something is making the most of it. “Putting butter in spinach” is to improve your daily life, because, eaten as it is, spinach does not delight the taste buds. If you want to enjoy both a good and the profit of your sale, you will say you want “butter and butter money.” “Butter dish” is a source of benefits that are not always legal.

When an individual is ignored, it is said to “count for butter” (or “for plums”). “Beurré comme un p’tit Lu”, on the other hand, is by no means a compliment to the favorite fat of the northern French, being “beurré” an alteration of the slang “bourré” which, as everyone knows, means . drunk.

When it comes to kitchen utensils, the expression “drag a casserole”, used mostly in politics, means that one has been involved in a dubious affair. “Going to the frying pan” is either to die a violent death, or to suffer something painful, or, for a woman, to indulge, with more or less gratitude depending on the case, in the sexual act. “We make a big show” when we strive to please someone and “give up” when we decide to give up a job or function.

Used alone, verbs are also invited to the party. We “cook” someone for information at all costs. “Cooking over low heat” is something, as is done with a good dish, to prepare it thoroughly with the utmost discretion.

“Saucissonner” means to cut, to slice. The operation can be related to the electoral map, you can also “sausage” a TV show using commercials. “Writing” (or “writing”) a text is tantamount to censoring it.

Words can be deceiving. “Running on the bean,” which is equivalent to “touching the system,” has nothing to do with vegetables. The bean in question comes from the verb “fava” which, in nineteenth-century Parisian slang, meant “annoying”. On the other hand, in “The End of Beans”, it is, in fact, about vegetables, the staple food of the poor in the past. When it was over, the situation was really desperate.

Excerpt from Dominique Mataillet’s book, “We haven’t finished talking about it! – Tasty dictionary of the subtleties, ambiguities and inconsistencies of the French language ”, published by Favre editions

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