Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Revenge of the French


I promise that this will end soon, but here’s another observation about something I have learned about food since we started planning a wedding. Beware of any food for which there is no American word. If you have to borrow a word from the French to describe something, it’s probably something guys aren’t going to like. Some examples follow.

I can’t speak for all guys of course, but I feel pretty confident that most guys don’t enjoy having to get all dressed up and go to some swanky black-tie affair with their wives. Part of the problem is those interminable receptions where everybody stands around trying to make conversation with people who they would rather not talk to. When we men are forced to do this we immediately become ferociously hungry. The problem is there is no real food to be had, only tuxedoed waiters bobbing and weaving through the crowd with silver platters of hors d’oeuvres. This is a French word meaning, tiny slivers of food-like substance. The phonetically correct pronunciation of this word should tell us men all we need to know about this sort of thing…hors d’oeuvers…pronounced…Whores dee overs. That’s right, we’re about to be screwed.

So, you’re stuck making small talk with a very rich and very old couple who you’ve never seen before in your life. You’re about to compliment the blue-haired woman on her lovely patterned stockings, (which are actually a severe, debilitating case of varicose veins), when the hors d’oeuvers tray comes by, saving you from this frightful embarrassment. You pick up something called a “crab puff.” It’s actually delicious. You’re about to grab four or five of these beauties and fill your jacket pockets when you look up and the waiter has vanished. God knows when he will be back so you excuse yourself and desperately try to find crab puff guy.

When you finally sit down for the meal, the first thing you’re served is another French specialty…vichyssoise, a French word which can be roughly translated, “why in God’s name is this soup cold?” If you were paying attention in that 20th century history class in college you’ll remember that the Vichy government of France during WWII were the bunch of cowards who collaborated with the Nazis. So, of course any soup named after them would have to be served cold.

Just about the time you think you have finally escaped from this French concentration camp, you’re served your entrée…filet mignon. This French word means roughly, “where is the rest of my steak?” Actually it really means “cute fillet.” Yeah, well only the French would think to describe a cut of beef as “cute.”

Finally, it’s time for dessert. You’re thinking that the only thing that could possibly redeem this mini-meal is a big helping of peach cobbler and ice cream. But then Pierre shows up and places a delicate plate in front of you that has a mint leaf and one raspberry on top of a teacup sized portion of…Crème Brulee.

On your way home you make a quick run by Chick-fil-a and Krispy Kreme.