The Culinary Capers of an American in Paris
French Toast author Harriet Welty Rochefort continues her attempts to demystify the French with French Fried, the saucy–sometimes spicy– and often hilarious tale of one American woman’s thirty-year foray into the Byzantine world of French cuisine…She graduates from opening cans of peas to casually knocking out two major three-course meals a day in no time at all…She takes us into French “hypermarkets”, invites us to join her family for a typical six-course Sunday lunch in the country, includes us in a pastry class at Lenôtre, and introduces us to some nice and some not-so-nice Parisian waiters. In a style that’s a cross between Erma Bombeck and M.F.K. Fisher, Rochefort tells the entertaining story of how she, an American raised on meat and potatoes, learned to appreciate food à la française.
CHEESE EXPRESSIONS from French Fried
“ My favorite cheese expression is entre la poire et le fromage, between the pear and the cheese, which refers to the moment in the meal when you can relax and bring up certain subjects you may not have wished to talk about before that point. For French business people, business talk usually gets serious between the poire et le fromage…
I also like the expressions en faire tout un fromage, to make a big deal out of something, and il a trouvé un fromage, which means he found a really cushy job.”
The French don’t call someone important a grand fromage, a big cheese, as we do in the U.S. They call a VIP une grosse légume, a big vegetable (and not un gros légume, which would be grammatically correct). And when they want you to smile for a picture, they don’t say “Cheese.” They say ouistitit sexe. Ouistiti is a little monkey and pronouncing it (oui-stee-tee) makes you stretch your lips into a smile. As for the sex part, that’s supposed to give you happy thoughts. At least that’s the idea.
Buy the book
Harriet’s second book, French Fried, The Culinary Capers of an American in Paris, St. Martin’s Press, 2001, is out of print but some copies are still available on amazon. Plans are being made for an e-book. Stay tuned!