Expat Magazine

Café with Lunch? Ha Ha Ha

By Sedulia @Sedulia


A woman I met works as a translator and was telling us how difficult it can be to translate cookbooks and travel books from English (or "American") into French.

"First they use completely different measures, of course," she said. "Cups, teaspoons, quarts... then, they have ingredients that are hard to find in France, like baking powder or baking soda [I buy mine at "foreign" stores in Paris] or brown sugar. Or they go into a lengthy explanation of something that any Frenchwoman would know. For example, where we would just say 'cut the vegetables en julienne', they will say, 'first turn the vegetables lengthwise and cut them into tiny lengthwise strips about two inches long.'

"Travel books are even funnier," she went on. "Sometimes you just have to leave things out. One Australian book told the readers that in Italy, you shouldn't order coffee during the meal, but wait until it was time for dessert!"

Everyone burst out laughing. Imagine ordering coffee with a meal!

I learned this the hard way, like all the other Americans, I suppose. Basically, they just don't bring you the coffee till after the meal, no matter when you order it, because it's just not done

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