Sunday
March
25th
2007
4:50 am

The “Littleness” of French food and drink

French food and drink is almost always expressed in terms of "littleness". There’s the petit goûter (little snack) to accompany your afternoon cafe or tea, the petit apéro (little apéritif) to precede dinner, the petit déssert and petit cafe follow dinner (no translation needed here surely!) And even in the markets, one orders a petit poulet rôti (little roasted chicken). Without noticing, I’ve fallen into the same pattern, asking for a petit pavé de saumon (little filet of salmon) or a petit morceau de bleu de causses (a little piece of bleu de causses, my favorite blue cheese).

So it was very odd in the bakery this morning when a gentleman ordered a gros morceau de quiche paysan (a big piece of quiche paysan). The clerk repeated his request, in an amused voice, and soon the entire line was buzzing, “A big piece?” “Yes, a big piece.” “He ordered what?” “A big piece.”

(For what it’s worth, I think the piece he ended up with was the standard size.)

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