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Let’s eat! Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Vocabulary

Everyone knows that the French love to eat (and that they know how to set a fancy table!). But do you know all of the different ways to talk about food in French? This week, we’ll review key vocabulary around eating . . . and drinking while we’re at it. Bon appétit!*

 

On mange avec la bouche. (One eats with the mouth.) The verb manger is a regular -er verb. The present tense conjugations are:

je mange / tu manges / il-elle-on mange / nous mangeons** / vous mangez / ils-elles mangent

On boit avec la bouche aussi. (One drinks with the mouth too.) The verb boire is an irregular verb. The present tense conjugations are:

je bois / tu bois / il-elle-on boit / nous buvons / vous buvez / ils-elle boivent

You can manger une bouchée or boire une gorgée (eat a bite/moutful or drink a sip/swallow). Grignoter is a verb which means ‘to snack/snack on‘ (it literally means ‘to nibble‘ or ‘to munch‘ . . . and like savourer (see below) can apply to more than just food. Grignoter can also mean ‘to eat away at something’.) On grignote des chips. (One munches on chips.)

Goûter is ‘to taste’ but le goûter is ‘a child’s afternoon snack’.*** Le goût is ‘the taste’ of something (or ‘the flavor’ but watch out. You’ll also see parfum**** for ‘flavor’ and ‘taste’ espeically when it comes to ice cream).

If you want to get fancy, you can also déguster or even savourer your food and drink. Déguster implies tasting with a level of expertice or particular attention to the flavors of something. Savourer (‘to savor’) means ‘to enjoy’ and can apply not just to food, but to experiences as well.

Useful words for different tastes include: sucré (sweet/sugary), salé (salty), amère (bitter), and aigre (sour).

To siroter un boisson is ‘to slowly drink/sip at a drink’.

* I have heard the expression “bon appétit!” (or more commonly ‘bon ap’) at just about every meal I’ve ever eaten with my French friends and family. This expression which serves to wish those you are dining with a ‘good meal’ (or going back to the origins of the expression literally ‘good digestion’) is as common as ‘bonjour’ in my experience. If you’re dining in family or with friends, throwing in a ‘bon ap’ of your own is likely to be fine, but in more formal settings, use caution! Would you believe that ‘bon appétit’ is also a source of controversy?!! According to some, its relationship to the very-bodily-related-function of digestion, it is apparently not fit for the dining table!
** Note that you keep the “e” at the end before adding the -ons ending in the first person plural of the verb ‘manger’ (and other verbs like ‘nager’ (‘to swim), ‘voyager’ (‘to travel’), and ‘changer’ (‘to change’)). Adding the ‘e’ maintains the ‘soft g’ pronunciation of the word as otherwise ‘mangons’ would be pronounced with a ear-jarring hard g!
*** ‘le quatre heure’ is an expression for ‘after-school snack’ . . . Many kids get home from school about this time in France.
**** ‘parfum’ also means ‘perfume‘.

 

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris