Salade de mots* Posted by Tim Hildreth on Oct 11, 2016 in Culture, History, Vocabulary
Savez-vous planter des choux . . . et pourquoi l’on se bat pour des prunes ? (Do you know how to plant cabbages . . . and why one fights for plums?) French is full of interesting expressions about les fruits et les legumes (fruits and vegetables). This week I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.
Avoir la pêche / litterally ‘to have the peach’ – When someone has la pêche, they’re full of enegry, raring to go. It is an expression that encapsulates in one phrase both mental and physical vigor. « J’ai la peche ! » means ‘I’m ready for anything !’.
Purée ! / literally ‘Mashed potatos !’** – Perhaps the perfect French word, ‘Puree !’ is both a food . . . and a multi-purpose interjection. Because it’s so flexible, the precise English transition is tricky to pin down, but it hovers somewhere around an expression of shock and disbelief (at the enormity of the situation) that you might equate to ‘Oh man !’.
Tomber dans les pommes / literally ‘to fall in the apples’ – To ‘fall in the apples’ doesn’t sound so bad, does it? But it is in reality quite serious. If you ever feel like you are going to tomber dans les pommes, you should find une chaise (a chair), vite! (fast!) Tomber dans les pommes actually means ‘to faint or pass out’.
Se battre pour des prunes*** / literally ‘to fight over plums’ – Plums are delicious . . . but they’re generally not worth very much. That fact is at the heart of this expression which means ‘to fight over nothing / for something not worth the effort’.
And finally, speaking of salades****, here’s an expression that some might find useful when discussing the current US (or any, really!) elections : raconter des salades. To recount/tell salads means ‘to lie, or to tell untruths’.
Here’s a list of common fruit and vegetables and their French translations . . . along with a list of body parts that should help you understand the song at the end of this blog (below the vocab).
|Les fruits / Fruits||Les légumes / Vegetables||Les parties du corps / Parts of the body|
|la pomme||apple||le carotte||carrot||la tête||head|
|la poire||pear||le tomate||tomato||le cou||neck|
|la banane||banana||la pomme de terre||potato (lit. ‘apple of the earth’)||l’épaule||shoulder|
|la fraise||strawberry||l’oignon||onion||le dos||back|
|la cerise||cherry||le chou||cabbage||le bras||arm|
|la pêche||peach||les haricots||green beans||la main||hand|
|la prune||plum||les petits pois||peas||la jambe||leg|
|le pruneau||prune||le champignon||mushroom||le pied||foot|
|l’orange||orange||le poivron||pepper||le coude||elbow|
|le citron||lemon||le chou-fleur||cabbage||le genou||knee|
|le citron vert||lime||le maïs||corn||le poignet||wrist|
|le pamplemousse||grapefruit||la laitue||lettuce||la cheville||ankle|
|le raisin||grape||les épinards||spinach||la taille||waist|
|le raisin-sec||raisin||l’aubergine||eggplant||le doigt||finger|
|la framboise||raspberry||l’asperge||asparagus||le pouce||thumb|
* Word salad.
** My memories of ‘la purée’ in France, whether at home or a la cantine (in the school cafeteria), are of a much runnier version, often made with potato flakes and literally pureed, than actual hand-mashed potatoes.
*** This expression has traceable historic roots. After a disastrous mid-11th century crusade, Louis VII managed to return to France with nothing more than a new type of fruit tree . . . one that plums grow on!
**** In France, la salade is generally served at the end of the meal, after the main dish and before the fromage (cheese). It is also often just lettuce. Une salade mixte or une salade composée includes more ingredients.