French Idioms

Edible French Comes Out Today!

EDIBLE FRENCH, my new book of food-related French idioms, is released today.

EDIBLE FRENCH explores fifty of the most evocative French expressions related to food with cultural notes, recipes, and whimsical watercolors by my talented friend Mélina Josserand.

It’s a project that has been brewing in my mind for years and years, and as a lover of both food and language, I am thrilled to be able to share it with you now.

I am also incredibly pleased with how the physical object turned out; the production team has done a wonderful job of it. It’s a book that feels very loveable, and the quality of the paper — thick, matte, with a bit of texture — really brings out the beauty of Melina’s watercolors, almost as if they were originals. I can tell that the people I show it to don’t really want to let go once they have it in their hands, and I hope you feel that way too.

I have set up a companion site for the book where you can view excerpts and listen to the expressions and example sentences featured in the book.

And if you plan to be in Paris in the coming weeks, I have two book events lined up on October 14 and November 29 (all details here).

EDIBLE FRENCH is now available in the US and Canada, in France, and in the UK.

See below for an animated sneak peek of the book, and details about the giveaway.

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Haut comme trois pommes

Haut comme trois pommes

Illustration by MelinArt.

This is part of a series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food. Browse the list of idioms featured so far.

This week’s expression is, “Haut comme trois pommes.”

Literally translated as, “high as three apples,” it is used to point out that someone — often a child — is small or very short. I’ve seen it translated to “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although I’ve never heard that cute English expression myself.

Example: “Il était haut comme trois pommes et devait courir pour rattraper ses soeurs.” (He was high as three apples and had to run to catch up with his sisters.)

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:

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Cheveux poivre et sel

Cheveux poivre et sel

Illustration by MelinArt.

This is part of a series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food. Browse the list of idioms featured so far.

This week’s expression is, “Cheveux poivre et sel.”

Literally translated as, “pepper and salt hair,” it is used to describe graying hair. It is also — though less often — used to describe someone’s beard (barbe) or sideburns (favoris).

Example: “C’était un monsieur d’un certain âge, aux cheveux poivre et sel.” “It was a man of a certain age, with pepper and salt hair.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:

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Coeur d’artichaut

Coeur d'artichaut

Illustration by MelinArt.

This is part of a series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food. Browse the list of idioms featured so far.

This week’s expression is, “Cœur d’artichaut.”

Literally translated as, “artichoke heart,” it is used to describe someone who falls in love easily and frequently, possibly with several people at the same time — or at least in rapid succession. It can be used either as avoir un cœur d’artichaut (having an artichoke heart) or être un cœur d’artichaut (being an artichoke heart).

Example: “Elle était très amoureuse de lui, mais elle s’est vite rendu compte que c’était un cœur d’artichaut.” “She was very much in love with him, but she soon realized he was an artichoke heart.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:

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Papa gâteau

Papa gâteau

Illustration by MelinArt.

This is part of a series on French idiomatic expressions that relate to food. Browse the list of idioms featured so far.

This week’s expression is, “Papa gâteau.”

Literally translated as, “cake daddy,” it is used to qualify a doting father, one who’s affectionate and good-natured, and possibly one who allows his children to wrap him around their little finger every once in a while.

Example: “Il n’a jamais été très branché bébés, mais depuis qu’il en a un, c’est un vrai papa gâteau.” “He’s never been big on babies, but now that he has one, he’s a real cake daddy.”

Listen to the idiom and example read aloud:

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