Tuesday, April 6, 2010

French Lessons


Easter. Another family gathering, another chance for La Mom to inadvertently offend the Fromage family.

Case (or three) in point:

1/ La Mom asks her father-in-law for some wine as the family looks at her aghast:

Madame Fromage: I can't give you any more wine until you finish the water that’s in your wine glass.

La Mom: Oh sorry, I didn’t realize I had some left over in there.

(Madame Fromage takes the wine glass and dumps the water in the plant on the table behind her.)

Big Cheese: (whispering to La Mom) I’ve told you a hundred times to make sure you’re done with your water before you ask for du vin. Diluting wine with water is like trying to faire l'amour with a zizi mou. What’s the point?

French lesson of the day: Stick to wine at meal time and drink water at breakfast.

2/ Sister-in-law Fromage asks La Mom to get the cheese platter. La Mom goes to the kitchen to prepare it just as the French Fries come running in to distract her. La Mom walks back out into a merde storm:

SIL Fromage: La Mom, you’ve been in France long enough to know how to present cheese.

La Mom: Pardon?

SIL Fromage: How about unwrapping the cheese before you put it on the platter and serving it to everyone?

Big Cheese (not whispering): It’s all about tempting the senses, La Mom. Before a man goes to bed with a femme, he wants to be teased a bit. His eyes must feast on the meal he’s about to consume. It’s the same thing with cheese. We want to be teased by the texture, color, and shape of all the different cheeses on the platter before we take a bite.

Madame Fromage: Well said, my son!

French lesson of the day: Leave it to the French (and Big Cheese) to equate eating cheese with having sex.

3/ There’s foie gras on the table. La Mom takes some and tries to score points with belle-mère by going on and on about how délicieuse it is.

La Mom: Madame Fromage, this foie gras is the best you’ve ever made.

Madame Fromage: Merci.

La Mom: No, really, it’s amazing how it melts in my mouth. What’s the difference from the one you made at Christmas?

Madame Fromage: It's from Carrefour. I couldn’t be bothered this Easter making foie gras for twenty people, so I got it at the supermarket.

SIL Fromage: Don’t take it personally, Maman, she’s Amercian. Of course she can’t tell the difference between your foie gras and supermarket foie gras.

Big Cheese: Ouch.

French lesson of the day: Don’t try kissing up to your French mother-in-law unless your French and can tell the difference between supermarket and homemade foie gras.

24 comments:

Kiki said...

is every Fromage family gathering a lesson in etiquette? i love France, the French people and cuisine, but teased by cheese? c'est crazy. take care, La Mom.

the Armchair Parisian said...

That is hysterical. I feel like I was sitting there sinking lower in my chair right along with you. My husband's biggest client are a French couple and so, over many years I have had to interact with them at various functions & meals. Mr. French is a silly, fun braggart who once brandished a bottle of wine at lunch, spouting that it cost him $60. I knew for a fact I could buy the same one at the grocery store for $6. Mrs. French is one of those gorgeous, perfectly coifed older French women whose lips are in a permanent purse, as if she disapproves of the way you breathe...

lowermainlandmom said...

ouch!

Margarita said...

Oh my goodness, that's hilarious. I hate trying to suck up to the in-laws, but it's especially funny with language and culture barriers!

http://www.margaritareczek.com

Julie said...

You lost me at faire l'amour avec un zizi mou ... I've been lol-ing ever since!

Think of it this way, if your belle-mere and you got along perfectly you wouldn't have much to blog about, n'est pas?

Your blog always makes me hungry for cheese ...

Sara Louise said...

Cringe! I'm so happy everyone seems to be a bit more laid back in Provence (only a bit!) but will still heed this post as a warning for when I'm dining with my French in-laws. I think I'll just keep my mouth shut and smile :-)

donna baker said...

Please serve them American style canapes next time and wow them with your knowledge and their history. Act like Hepburn did. Even serve American wine and don't tell them till afterwards. Love the Wiggles. You should play them during your dinner.

Anonymous said...

I think you could teach your in laws a thing or two about decent French table etiquette. There should have been a water glass next to your wine glass, and dumping the water in the flower pot...that would have raised eye brows at my house...

Anna Helena said...

Ouch!

I live in dread of doing something like that.
So far so good - I don't think I stepped on any toes and everyone is being extra nice to me. But one day...

Chin up. It's great blogging material

Ali said...

Oh no, I would not survive in France!

Elisa, Croatia said...

I feel like I'm watching a soap opera. sex and cheese huh.
I guess I wouldn't make it living in France, I'm too much of a 'farm' girl. My table manners.questionable..

Saludos

Rosabell said...

La Mom, if u really wanna drive them crazy, next time they tell u about not mixing wine and water, tell them u wanna experiment the fabulous Austrian Spritz because it makes u feel like dancing a Vienna waltz . I'd like to see their faces :)

maria said...

i love that you seem to take it in stride. i was cracking up...merci.

Clara said...

You're really gifted ! Well first, they totally should have give you another glass for water, and as in every latin country a woman is never good enough to be her precious son's wife ... and the kitchen is the favorite battlefield as usual.

Beadboard UpCountry said...

Sounds a little tense, but at least you're experiencing the education over there in Paris and having foie gras, great wine and fromage.....Good for you!I always enjoy the educadion through you. I wonder if your French family realize how many people they are reaching???Maryanne:)

debbie in toronto said...

you "crack" me up...thanks for the comment on my little blog...

bien weekend

Loulou said...

Oy
Sounds like you are forced to "learn" a few lessons at every family gathering! Must get tiresome?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for a wonderful chuckle, and the tip that I can find good fois gras at Carrefour!

Virginia said...

Oh I can see right now that I wouldn't have made it as far as you have. Bless your heart! My theory is that the French keep changing the "rules" so that we never really, really ever get it just right. I love your blog!
V

Arielle said...

Hi, nice blog ! I am French, and I must say this story seems hysterical as well to me. I have the impression this is a very uptight family, never seen something like that myself !
However, on the wine thing, they probably just wanted to avoid you drink mixed wine, I've seen many times people forgetting about some water in their glass and being warned before served glass. I don't have the feeling it was offenive.
And for the cheese, I have an other explanation than your son : if you unwrap it before,it avoids the other guests to touch the oily paper, so they don't have to clean their hands immediately after (while you cleaned yours in the kitchen). Less messy !
Please don't be offended by all those snotty comments from your in-laws !

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

You are a brave, brave woman, La Mom. :) *bows to you* I'm not worthy!! I would crumble and melt like blue cheese with that crowd. You've got brass cojones, my dear, if you don't mind my saying. ;-)

LC said...

I would pay some cash to watch you unleash on the in-laws like Meg Ryan did in French Kiss at the hotel concierge when she was finally fed up with his French arrogance. :) Probably wouldn't make for long term family peace though...

Ellie said...

Just found your blog. My husband is French, we still live in America though. Great post. I was cracking up and so was my husband when I read it this post to him. Thanks for sharing your experiences and now I'm adding your blog to my blogroll!!

Anonymous said...

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