When it comes to saying French words in English, my children and I are sometimes a little amused. For example how do you say “gouter” in English? Somehow “snack” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it …
We have « afternoon tea » in English or “tea time” as it is affectionately known. This afternoon tea is a different affair to the French gouter, as it usually happens at 5 o’clock and the tea (with a splash of milk please) is accompanied by small finger sandwiches and some other nibbles to make it into a sort of meal.
In France the “gouter” is an institution and an art: usually eaten around 4.30pm by children who are coming out of school and who are typically hungry. It is mostly sweet or it can be a baguette with a piece of chocolate in the middle. Although I will admit that I cannot get to grips with putting chocolate into a piece of bread. (I was never a Nutella fan as a child). As a yoga-teaching raw-juicing type of a mum, I have tried (and failed) to give them fruit and or vegetables at 4.30pm. However with my kids, if I haven’t got the gouter covered, they invariably pester me for a croissant or a pain au chocolat as we go past the boulangerie that is en route to home.
French words in English: gouter or snack?
So our “gouter” is usually a homemade biscuit or a banana and some almonds. But I still find it difficult referring to it as a snack and I think this is to do with the cultural connotations linked to snacking in general. In the UK, we are bombarded with health messages saying that snacking is BAD for us. However the goûter in France is not considered in the same way. Dinner is usually served at around 8pm in France so obviously children would never hold out until then if they didn’t eat a goûter at 4.30pm.
When it comes to French words in English, snacking sounds so much more civilised when it is called a “goûter”(which incidentally also means “to taste”). I suppose that when you look at the fact that the French have the lowest levels of obesity in children, than other industrialised countries, it means that the goûter is not necessarily a bad thing.
When it comes to saying French words in English, do you have any you find amusing?