Of food idioms and Chinese takeout

Yesterday I was hanging out with my French friend Clémence and she was trying to explain the meaning of the expression “coup de bar,” which apparently means a sudden dip in energy in the middle of the afternoon – as if someone hit you in the back of the head with a bar. “It only lasts a minute or two,” she said (in French), “but then afterwards you have the potatoes again.”
“You have the what?” I said.
“You have the potatoes! Oh… it means… to have the fries! You know, to have the peach!” As I gathered from her gesticulations, all these expressions mean to have lots of energy—as if, Clémence went on to explain, you had just had some fruit juice (or some potatoes, or fries) and you are feeling real peppy. “I’m just really hungry,” she continued. “I don’t know why. I had Chinese food for lunch.”
I noted—and here we see my brilliant conversational skills in French—that Chinese food in France is completely different from Chinese food in the U.S.
“Do you have those white cartons??” exclaimed Clémence. I said that yes, we did. “I dream of those white cartons!” she said. “They’re in all the American movies! Oh wow, white cartons!”
“Some Indian restaurants have the white cartons too,” I said.
“Oh, New York!” sighed Clémence.
In Paris’s defense, this week I’ve seen two plays, a free organ concert and an exhibition of Egyptian art at the Louvre, ate lunch in the Tuileries, and sat in cafés drinking tea and reading Flaubert. But Clémence may be right that, in the end, nothing beats New York takeout. Woody Allen once said that he wouldn’t want to live anywhere where he can’t get wonton soup at 4 a.m. On the other hand, I don’t want to live anywhere where I can’t ogle pastries at least once a block. I guess it will be up to the next generation to build a world where copious Chinese food and millefeuilles can exist together in harmony.

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Published in: on March 14, 2009 at 12:04 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. loved this update. (also love dating the cuter version of an androgynous girl-drummer) 😛

  2. DON’T love that smiley. i was trying to do a normal text-based smiley with its tongue out. what are these fancy graphics? not a fan.


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