Friday, 20 July 2007

I have my suspicions about 'Tripous', though.

I have invented a game to play at restaurants here called 'French Roulette'. To play, you require a menu, and a very hazy grasp of the French language. Then, rather than doing what I used to do, and having one of the four or five things I could identify, you pick the most impenetrable looking phrase, ask for it, and cross your fingers it isn't liver. Yesterday, for instance, I went for 'coquilles de Saint-Jacques', on the grounds that they sounded like they might well be holy relics. In fact, they were bits of fish on a stick. But very nice bits of fish. Then I ordered 'coupe de fraises', probably because the word 'coupe' had subconciously made me expect something rather special- as if the chef had turned to the sous-chef and said 'You know, Serge, I think I've pulled off something of a coup with these fraises!' Then they turned up. And I realised that if so, the rest of the conversation would have gone like this:

SERGE: Really, Jean-Claude? Why, what have you done with them?
JEAN-CLAUDE: Well, I've cut them in halves...
SERGE: Mon Dieu!
JEAN-CLAUDE: Let me finish, Serge! I've cut them into halves... and then I've put them in a bowl.
SERGE: You, mon ami, are a culinary genius. But aren't those the fraises we've had in the freezer for two years?
JEAN-CLAUDE: The very same. And what I've rather cleverly done is only let them three-quarters thaw, so there's still a little frozen bit in the middle of each one. Like a baked Alaska in fruit form.
SERGE: Maestro. You stand alone.


Anonymous said...

Well, so far no comments on your message of 20 July, and I'm not surprised! Coquilles St Jacques are SCALLOPS (hence not 'bits of fish'), and of course they are very nice!

As for 'coupe', what you write is rather on the feeble side for a comedy writer! Coupe means just a bowl.

Why DO some people pride themselves on being linguistic ignoramuses?

James Casey said...

The above comment makes me sad. Could say more, but it would I think be wise not to.

Love to all the world,


simon said...

Isn't it "linguistic ignorami"?

John Finnemore said...

I am humbled. My over-weening pride in not knowing the French for 'bowl' has been correctly identified, and crushed. I will lead a better and nobler life henceforth.

Katharine B said...

Not sure if you still receive comment notifications on entries this old, but I very much hope you do... Just to say that I've just found your blog and have spent ages scrolling through the entries, giggling to myself.

This entry in particular reminded me of an occasion that I thought you might appreciate: I was working in France for a few months, and one evening I went out for a meal with my then-boyfriend to a restaurant where they'd helpfully put English translations under the French descriptions of the dishes. One of the starters was 'Noix de Saint-Jacques' (more or less the same thing as 'coquilles de Saint-Jacques'), and when I saw that they'd translated it as 'Nuts of Saint Jack', I laughed so hard that I honestly thought I might rupture something.

Well, he's a man of the cloth, it's not as though he's going to have any use for them...

The (French) then-boyfriend just watched in slightly nervous puzzlement, completely unable to understand what was so funny.

Emily Hope said...

Simon--it is NOT ignorami! Because Robert Webb says so!

Emily Hope said...

Simon--it is NOT ignorami! Because Robert Webb says so!

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. You play a very dangerous game monsieur. Husband once ordered 'andouille' (I ordered biftek being both hungry and sensible).

It turns out you can never quite get the taste of poo out of intestines.

Anonymous said...

Very old post may not be open for comments, but just found your blog after needing to know more about the genius behind Cabin Pressure. I'm sure the anon commentor with the French lessons would only consider me a 'dumb American' whose second language is Spanish, not French, but I found your blog, and this post in particular, side-splittingly funny. A new fan!

EMB said...

No humbling necessary, John - however sarcastic! :)
Obviously, this was ages ago, but like James, the first comment makes me sad. So, if said-Anonymous ever comes back to this page, desperate for attention: "coupe" doesn't mean bowl, it means glass on a stem as in "Je prendrais bien une bonne coupe de vin." or like an ice-cream bowl- the menue was lying! - and Coquilles St-Jacques can contain a variety of seafood. Bonne chance pour le reste, mon grand.

EMB said...

*ice-cream bowl with a stem, that is...

Anita said...

My husband plays the same game - he once endured a starter which we'd roughly translated as pig snout. Turned out it was exactly that. Mmm, yummy cartilage!

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