January 24, 2010

French Edible Expressions

French. Such an interesting culture, especially when it comes to food. Maybe because french food is such a delicate and exquisite cuisine, it is as well extremely diverse.
This cuisine was greatly affected by the social and political change throughout the centuries.. The Middle Ages brought Guillaume Tirel, better known as Taillevent. However, during the modern age, there was a trend for using fewer spices and more liberal usage of herbs and refined techniques, beginning with La Varenne and then with the famous chef of Napoleon , Marie-Antoine Carême.
French cuisine was codified in the 20th century by Georges Auguste Escoffier to become the modern version of haute cuisine. Haute cuisine which means literally "high cooking"or grande cuisine.
Finally, in the 1960s were marked by the appearance of "nouvelle cuisine" as chefs rebelled from Escoffier's "orthodoxy". Within 20 years, however, chefs began returning to the earlier style of haute cuisine, although many of the new techniques remained.
Gastro-tourism helped to bring people to the countryside during the 20th century and beyond, to sample this rich bourgeois and peasant cuisine of France, which ranged from " the simple Croissants & traditional puff pastry, to the famous cheeses like Roquefort & Camembert de Normandie, to the intense wine, to the exotic Escargot bourguignon!!!
Many foreigners have the mistaken impression that French food is heavy and complicated. In fact, much of the French cuisine is fairly simple, relying on high quality fresh ingredients and devoted preparation rather than complex recipes.
But their language maybe is complex. Not just their grammar but the structure as well. Idioms are usually widely used to express what French think... This made me write this whole post about “French Idioms” that re related to food but their meaning actually have non-gastronomical explanations.
I will be listing only my favorite famous idioms with their explanations:
Être comme un coq en pâte
Translated as, "Being like a rooster in dough," it means feeling cosy and pampered, being in a state of absolute contentment, with one's every need catered to.
Coq en pâte is an olden, luxurious French dish in which a poularde (fatted chicken*) is stuffed, trussed, wrapped entirely in a short crust, and then baked until golden. It is traditionally served with sauce Périgueux on the side, a sauce flavored with port and truffles..

Être dans le pâté

Literally translated as, "Being in the pâté," it means feeling drowsy and out of it, usually in the morning after too much partying and/or not enough sleeping. It is a slang expression, not vulgar but definitely not elegant, so it is suggested not to be used -- slang is the trickiest thing to get right in a foreign language --

Ne pas mâcher ses mots
Literally translated as, "Not chewing one's words," it means expressing one's opinion plainly and bluntly, with no concern for how it's going to be received. It is equivalent to the (similarly food-oriented) English expression, "Not mincing words."
Not chewing your words implies two things here: one, that you didn't take the time to think about (chew) what you were about to say, which might otherwise have led you to edit yourself slightly; and two, that the words you're pronouncing have to be swallowed whole, and may therefore be difficult to digest for those on the receiving end.

Ménager la chèvre et le chou
Translated as, "Accommodating the goat and the cabbage," it means trying to please both sides in a situation where the two parties are in fact irreconcilable. It is equivalent to the English expression, "running with the hare and hunting with the hounds. It is often used when talking about politics and diplomacy, and in some cases it takes on a slightly negative connotation: it may be implied that the person who's trying to keep everyone happy is in fact letting the situation drag on, when perhaps a resolute decision one way or the other would settle the matter more efficiently.

Ce n'est pas de la tarte
Approximately translated as, "it's not pie*," it means that something is tricky, difficult to do or to handle.

Mettre son grain de sel

Literally translated as, "putting in one's grain of salt," it means interfering with a conversation or situation with an unsollicited comment or opinion.

Raisonner comme une casserole
Literally translated as, "reasoning like a saucepan," it means demonstrating poor logic, formulating arguments that are evidently flawed. It should only be used in informal conversation.

Le ver est dans le fruit
Literally translated as, "the worm is in the fruit," it means that the damage is done, that a situation is inherently faulty, and that it's impossible or too late to do anything about it. It can also be used humorously, to comment with mock fatalism on the way a situation is turning, or is bound to turn.

Ne pas mélanger les torchons et les serviettes

Literally translated as, "not mixing dishtowels with napkins," it means treating things or people differently according to their perceived value or class but also, more generally, not mixing things of different kinds, with the implication that some of those things are superior to the others.

La fin des haricots
Literally translated as, "the end of the beans," it means that the situation is disastrous, that it's all over, and that all hope is gone. Sounds depressing? Sounds depressing? Wait! It is in fact a colloquial expression that is most often used humorously, with a measure of irony.

Etre tout sucre tout miel
Literally translated as, "being all sugar all honey," it means acting in an overtly affable, considerate, and polite way. It is chiefly used ironically, to point out that the person hides negative feelings behind that cloying front.

Avoir la pêche

Literally translated as, "having the peach," it means being in high spirits, having a lot of energy, feeling great physically and/or mentally -- in other words, feeling peachy!

Marcher sur des oeufs
Literally translated as, "walking on eggs," it is equivalent to the English expression that appears more frequently as walking on eggshells, i.e. acting with the greatest of caution in a tricky, sensitive situation, especially to avoid hurting or provoking someone.

Un déjeuner de soleil
Literally translated as, "a sun's lunch," it is used to describe something that's lovely but short-lived..

Mi-figue mi-raisin
Literally translated as "half fig half grape," it is used as an adjective to mean that a thing, a statement, or a person is ambiguous, or mixed: half good and half bad, half pleasant and half unpleasant, half happy and half sad, half willing and half reluctant, half serious and half joking...

Mettre de l'eau dans son vin

Translated as "Putting water in one's wine," it means lessening one's demands or ambitions, mellowing, deciding to adopt a more moderate stand on an issue or in an argument.

S'occuper de ses oignons

Literally translated as "taking care of one's onions," it means minding one's own business, and it is used in situations when someone is meddling in someone else's affairs.

Ne pas savoir si c'est du lard ou du cochon

This idiom is, "Ne pas savoir si c'est du lard ou du cochon" (or: "Se demander si c'est du lard ou du cochon"). Literally translated as, "not knowing whether it's lard or pork” (or: wondering whether it's lard or pork), it means not knowing what to think/believe. It is most often used when you're faced with a fact or statement that comes from an unreliable source, or when you're not sure whether someone is being serious or pulling your leg.
Avoir du pain sur la planche
Translated as "having bread on the board," it means having a lot of work to do, or having a lot on one's plate, when the tasks are somewhat tedious.

Tomber comme un cheveu sur la soupe

"Falling like a hair on soup," and it means that something or someone appears at an inappropriate or incongruous moment, and is thus completely out of place.
Rouler quelqu'un dans la farine
Literally translated as, "rolling someone in flour," it means duping someone, playing a trick on him, or using one's wits and lies to take advantage of someone who's a little naive, or not quite as smart as one is.

Boire du petit-lait
The literal translation is, "drinking whey" (sometimes appearing as "drinking one’s whey), and it means basking in praise or flattery, or taking obvious pleasure in a situation that has turned out to one's advantage.

Casser du sucre sur le dos de quelqu'un
It means, literally, "breaking sugar on someone's back," or engaging in malicious gossip about someone. In other words: backbiting, which, come to think of it, is slightly food-related too, in a cannibalistic sort of way.


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