Queen of Quiche

I don’t make too many embarrassing mistakes in French anymore. (I still feel like it’s a battle to be taken seriously as a foreigner in France, but that’s a separate issue.) But here’s one that still cracks me up a little when I think about it.

Last year, I lived with some lovely French girls while Hugo was in England, and one evening, another lovely French girl came over for dinner. We all helped whip up this and that in our cramped, hallway-shaped kitchen, and our visitor prepared a delicious quiche. She even made the crust and everything, instead of using the pre-made pâte feuilletée that I roll out every time. Without thinking, I proclaimed her the “reine des quiches” with much American enthusiasm.

She looked startled. It seems like a compliment to say that someone is the queen of quiche, but the problem is that calling a person a quiche in French is an insult – I basically called her “Queen of the idiots”! And I knew that, but I had just forgotten for a second in my excitement over the delicious quiche!

Luckily, she understood I meant no harm and gently reminded me of the alternate meaning of “une quiche.” Whoops. I felt like a total quiche myself!

Accidental insults aside, I do love quiche. As long as there’s no goat cheese hiding in it. My favorite quiches to make are leek, onion, and lardon quiche, and this bacon and spinach quiche. Yum yum yum. What’s your favorite quiche recipe?

 

Two things you should never say to your French boyfriend

I’ve made my share of silly mistakes in French. I’ve progressed a lot in the last few years, but (much to my chagrin), I’m still not perfect. Sometimes just accidentally adding a single consonant to a word leaves les français giggling at my expense. (The word for down jacket is “doudoune” not “doune-doune,” in case you were wondering.)

Usually, my slip-ups just leave me subject to ridicule, but sometimes they get me in trouble. Here are two ways to accidentally offend your French copain or copine.

Continue reading “Two things you should never say to your French boyfriend”

Jour J: Counting down in French

Do you know how to count down to a big day in French? I learned this shortly after I moved to Paris from Chicago. I was teaching in a language school near Saint Lazare, and I had an adorable student about the same age as me. She was planning her wedding.

One day, while telling me about her upcoming nuptials, she mentioned “D-Day.” Wait, hold on. D-day? You’re calling your wedding day “D-Day?”

Continue reading “Jour J: Counting down in French”

Coucou! (and other French mistakes)

When I was learning French and I went to France for the first time, I thought “coucou” was a term of endearment, an affectionate diminutive, like “sweetie” or “honey.” Actually, it just means “hi there!” So… I was just flattering myself every time someone said, “Coucou C-Rose!”

(Around the same time, I pronounced “gare” to rhyme with “air” instead of rhyming with “are” or “aarrrrg!” (…the pirate noise). This means that instead of actually saying “gare” (rhymes with “aarrrrg!”) I was really saying the word “guerre” (rhymes with “air”) without realizing it. THAT means that instead of saying, “I’m going to the train station” I was really saying, “Bye-bye, I’m off to war!” Olala. I’ve come a long way.)

Gare TGV Avignon
This is “la gare.” (I don’t think we need a picture of “la guerre.”)

Anyway, that is just a long-winded introduction to say coucou… to you! I just wanted to say hi and thank you for following my blog. I started blogging just recently because I wanted to see if I would like writing, and if I did, what I would like writing about. I wanted to see if I would like blogging as much as I like reading blogs. I wanted a place to share the stories of fun, funny, and weird things that happen in France and to share my photos because sometimes I take more than Instagram can handle. My family doesn’t read it, and neither do my friends. I’m just writing because I want to. And I’m glad you’re reading!

I’m writing this from the airport in Lyon (bravo on the free wifi, Aeroport de Lyon!) because… I’m off to Barcelona! I haven’t been to Spain since I was thirteen (um.. some time ago) and I’ve never been to Barcelona or this region of Spain before. I’m not sure yet if I’m going to blog while I’m there or not, but soon I want to share more about Montpellier and tell you about a tragic encounter with French bureaucracy… when I’m ready to laugh about it.

In the meantime, salut! (“Salut” is the French version of “Aloha” minus the island cool – it means both “hi” and “bye.”) See you next time!

French Gone Wrong: “I’ll have a condom.”

There are so many ways to embarrass yourself in French. And goodness knows I do.

You’ve probably heard that préservatif does NOT mean preservative in French, nor does it have anything to do with jam. It means condom. I still consciously remind myself not to accidentally talk about condoms when I want to discuss preservatives. But even if you successfully remember not to bring up préservatifs, there are so many other ways to get yourself in trouble.

Do not call this
This is la confiture. Don’t forget!

One evening, I was at the dinner table with my beau-père. We were staying with Hugo’s parents, and for some reason, his dad and I were the only ones at home for dinner that evening. After dinner, he asked if I would like I yogurt or an applesauce for dessert. Sure, I said, an applesauce would be nice.

Except that’s not what I said. I said, “Je prendrai une capote.”

“Une compote” is an applesauce. “Une capote” is slang for condom. Whoops!

Why couldn't I have just asked for yogurt?
Why couldn’t I have just asked for yogurt?

I crossed my fingers that he wouldn’t notice, or that he would chalk it up to my accent. But now I’m always verrry careful to pronounce the “om” in “compote”!

French faux pas: piquer

When I moved to France and started spending more and more time with French people, I rapidly picked up a new vocabulary that I hadn’t learned in school. Things that people use all the time in conversation that I hadn’t run across reading Flaubert (unless Flaubert talked about kiffing his meuf, and if he did, oh dear lord please tell me where.)

One word I heard over and over was “piquer”which previous I had only known as in a ballet move I was super awesome at (on the right leg, anyway). Literally, it means to prick or sting, but it’s often used to mean borrow or steal. As in, “Je peux te piquer la cuillère?” “Can I grab that spoon from you?” and “Hé, je t’ai piqué tes chaussures pour la fête hier soir.” “Hey, I borrowed your shoes for the party last night.” Or if you’re in Paris, “Ce connard m’a piqué mon portefeuille dans le métro!” “That jackass stole my wallet in the metro.”

Anyway, one weekend I was staying with my BFF and her French roommates, and their two cats. One of the cats took a liking to me and was my personal cuddle bug all weekend. She even sat on my belly while I was sleeping, requiring me to lie perfectly still on my back all night. (Imprisonment of this sort is a sign of the deepest affection in cats, if you didn’t know.*)

At the end of the weekend when I said goodbye to the cat’s owner, I wanted to thank her for letting me borrow her cat all weekend, so I said, “Merci de m’avoir laissé piquer ton chat.” She looked at me oddly, then gently explained, “Actually, when we say ‘piquer un animal’ it means to kill it with a shot, to put it down.”

Oh! Not exactly what I was going for.

So if you want to borrow someone’s pet without getting your kitty privileges revoked, stick with “emprunter” – to borrow. Much safer!

*You can learn more about strange cat behaviors here and here thanks to The Oatmeal.