FRENCH FOR BEGINNERS: FOOD (La Nourriture) and DRINK (Les Boissons) Part 2

C’est l’heure du déjeuner. c’est l’heure A table! a table Bon appétit!  bon appétit(it’s lunch time. Let’s eat!) In my previous blog,  we learned the names of the 3 main meals in France and some of the food and drink items, so now it is time to go to the restaurant. Allons au restaurant!   allons au restaurant (Let’s go to the restaurant!)

Types of restaurants in France

There are many different types of eating places in France from the Cafés which serve basic food and are focused on coffee to the Michelin-star type restaurants.

There are bistrots (bistros) which are not clearly defined and can be a pub, a bar or a restaurant. There are brasseries (the name means ‘brewery’) which resemble cafés but serve full meals. There are also speciality shops such as Crêperies  (which serve pancakes or crêpes) and Salons de Thé which specialise in teas but also serve quiches, tarts, cakes, etc.

Salon de Thé

Cutlery and Crockery (Argenterie et Vaisselle) argenterie

The way the table is set is very important – it is almost an art in France.

le couvert = table setting couvert

la nappe = tablecloth nappe

la serviette = the napkin serviette

le couteau = the knife couteau

la fourchette = the fork fourchette

la cuillère = the spooncuillere

la cuillère à soupe = the soup spoon cuillere a soupe

la petite cuillère = the teaspoon petite cuillere

le verre = the glass verre

un verre à vin = a wine glassverre a vin

la tasse = the cuptasse

la soucoupe = the saucer soucoupe

la bouteille =  the bottle bouteille

une assiette = a plate assiette

le bol = bowl bol

le plateau = tray plateau

Idioms about eating and drinking

mettre les petits plats dans les grands = to put on a great spread

manger à la bonne franquette = to eat without fuss/simply or informally

manger à l’oeil = to eat without paying

manger comme un moineau = to eat like a sparrow, i.e. very little

manger la grenouille = to eat the frog, i.e. to spend one’s savings (in the XVIIIth century, piggy banks were shaped like frogs)

manger son chapeau = to eat one’s hat i.e. to admit to a mistake

boire comme un trou = to drink like a hole, i.e. they never stop

mettre son grain de sel = to put in one’s salt’s worth i.e. to give one’s unsolicited opinion

la moutarde me monte au nez = the mustard is getting up my nose, i.e. I am getting angry

la vie est trop courte pour boire du mauvais vin = life is too short to drink bad wine


Famous French Dishes

Many French dishes have become famous throughout the world and may be found on different menus.

Of course, there are frogs’ legs (cuisses de grenouilles), snails (escargots) and steak tartare to be sampled.

Then there are dishes such as :

le canard  à l’orange   (duck à l’orange),

le boeuf bourguignon (beef stew),

 le coq au vin (chicken in wine),

la soupe à l’oignon (onion soup),

le cassoulet (beef and bean stew),

la salade niςoise (niςoise salad)

la ratatouille

French Desserts

la Tarte Tatin: legend has it that this luxury-type of apple pie came about because of an error with caramelisation. It is now made with pears, apples, quinces and prunes.

le Mille feuille  (also known as a Napoleon cake): delectable layers of pastry and custard cream. Its name means a thousand leaves which refers to the countless layers of pastry used to make it.

la Crème brûlée:

le Macaron: this meringue-based sweet has been around since the Middle Ages and was introduced to France by Catherine de Medici.

la crème caramel;

la mousse au chocolat:


The above desserts are just some  of the many French desserts.  There are also certain desserts that are made on special feast days, such as:

Christmas (Noël) : la bûche de Noël (Christmas log)

Mardi Gras: crêpes (pancakes)

Epiphany: la Galette des Rois (King’s cake)


My next blog will include phrases about going to the restaurant. So make sure to look out for it.




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