Things sound so much better in French

by Lorin Michel Saturday, March 22, 2014 11:08 PM

One of the great romance languages is French. No matter who is speaking it, it just seems to sound sexy, even as you catch certain syllables and consonants in your nose and utter something guttural in response. I don’t speak French as I’ve said before. I can only pronounce certain things by rote. But put something in front of me that I’ve never seen before and I have no idea what letters get pronounced and which ones get swallowed, or where the accents are. I know in Spanish and I know in Italian, another of the great romance languages. I love Italian even though I don’t speak that either.

Yesterday Justin, who is cruising the Caribbean on the Norwegian Sun, as their lighting technician, was in St. Thomas. Or maybe it was St. Lucia. It was one of those small islands in the Lesser Antilles. He posted on Facebook that he was having a banana shake and a croque-monsieur. I smiled. Leave it to the French to make a grilled ham and cheese sound so beautiful. Granted, they often use Gruyère cheese (a personal favorite in a sea of fromage). I’ve made grilled ham and cheese with Gruyere, too, and I live in the land of the Spanish-speaking southwest. Manchego doesn’t melt as well.

Evidently and by the way, if you throw a fried egg on top it’s known as a croque-madame. In this country we call that an Egg McMuffin which is called a Croque McDo in France.

We serve hors d’oeuvres instead of snacks; we’re entrepreneurs instead of self-employed. We order things à la carte rather than just on the side, or à la mode rather than simply with ice cream. We ask about the soup du jour. Some ask about the soup du jour of the day as well, but that just shows pure ignorance. We say bon appétit rather than saying eat good.

Art innovators are avant garde, high fashion is haute couture, we take carte blanche, we eat fine cuisine. Kevin and I live on a cul-de-sac instead of a short road with a nice round-about at the end. I experience déjà vu on a regular basis. My mother has always loved pot-pourri rather than a bunch of dried flowers and spices mixed together. I got an invitation the other day, and we will RSVP, or réspondez, s’il vous plaît

The words appear sexier even when writing them. Maybe it’s the little accent marks. Maybe it’s knowing that I actually know how to pronounce these words because they have been co-opted by the English and the Americans. I mean, who would have thought that saying yes could sound even better when you say oui? Somehow in French it has that certain je ne sais quoi that’s indescribable.

Also redundant, that.

The only word of ours I can think of that the French use is no. No seems to be no in just about any language.

Au contraire, you say? Well, quite to the contrary my friend. But c’est la vie. Such is life.

On this Saturday, after eating a jamon et fromage quesadillas, which I’ve named croque Lorin (because I grilled it and because I used French Canadian bacon) I say celebrate something. Or as the French say, joie de vivre.

Vive la diffèrence.

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live out loud

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