My poor non-French people,
If you don’t speak French and are planning to travel to la Belle France, there are a few sentences you need to master in order to really get into the French spirit.
Of course I’m sure you know all about « Je t’aime » or « Deux croissants s’il vous plait », and even some more olé olé sentences like the chorus of this famous disco song some American tourists never fail to sing when they meet a French native – excuse my French but I won’t translate them here, my papa might be reading !
But if you want to make French friends and really sound like a vrai Français, I’m sure this sentence would be much more useful.
« Tu passes pour l’apéro ? »
Translate : Will you swing by for « apéro » time ?
Apéro is short for apéritif, and synonym with drinks and good times together. It’s much more than just a moment when you’re emptying a glass of alcohol.
It’s a special time, before lunch or dinner, when you unwind from the last few hours, and enjoy this moment to connect with those who are sharing this moment with you.
It could be compared to “happy hour”, except apéritif can be served anywhere, from a café to your living room (and any way, who wants to be happy only an hour a day? At least the apéritif time rings twice, at noon and at 7 pm!).
Apéritif seems to be such a tradition now that any French would say that it has been going on for ages… But it is actually pretty new.
It started at the beginning of the 20th Century, and became really popular after World War Two. New spirits would flourish to try and conquere this huge market, and it has led to the creation of some of the most beautiful posters…
The emblematic apéritif drink is Pastis, this anis-flavored spirit typical from the South of France. Pastis is synonym with Provence, Sun, and debating for hours about unimportant things while pretending they are extremely serious and… important.
Provencal writer Marcel Pagnol, whom you might know for his Jean de Florette, was a master at writing aperitif scenes.. Here is one of his most famous character, bar owner César, explaining aperitif can not be bad for health “because it’s made out of plants”!
Wine is another great option.
Rosé is perfect fot summer aperitif for example.
And I personnaly love the Burgundy tradition: kir, where you mix white wine with crème de cassis. (How I miss fresh blackcurrants at the end of summer and the crème my grand mother used to make herself).
The French love to drink… They also love to eat, this is no news.. So of course, they had to create a whole range of special foods you should have for this special moment. Go to any grocery store or supermarket in France, and you will see at least one whole aisle dedicated to all the good things you can have pour l’apéro.
Any French pantry is stuffed with special nuts, savory cookies, or spreads, to be served in case some one showed for aperitif. The most common are pâté or rillettes, pork charcuteries, or Tapenade, an olive based spread that is typical from provencal cuisine.
It’s a great way to have people over in a more relaxed way than a formal dinner.
You usually invite people you don’t know for aperitif first : after a few drinks and some great conversation, who knows, they could turn into great friends, and might stay for dinner!
Bon appétit les amis!
PS: Had to share with you this cartoon drawn by French and perfect Cartoonist Charb, murdered on January 7th 2015 at the Charlie Hebdo’s office.
“I can’t register your complaint right now, it’s apéro time”
“But yesterday I was told it was after-drinks time!”
“Well, come between apéro and after drinks”
“Oh non, I would be too scared to come in the middle of happy hour!”
“Are you implying that we’re drinking too much?”