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Cheese, Wine, and etiquette: is it bad manners to ask for seconds in France?

Smokey golden retriever cabanon stone house
"New Day". Smokey reminds us to live simply, slowly, and not to make a cheese about things! Speaking of fromage, tell us your favorite kind in the comments section. Picture taken from our last vineyard.

TODAY'S WORD: en faire tout un fromage

       : to make a fuss about something
      : to make a mountain out of a molehill
      : to make a big deal out of something

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French expression Download En faire tout un fromage

Improve your spoken French: Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

(This story was written 3 years ago)

For Friday's lunch with guests Eugenia and David, there would be two things less to worry about: the plat principal and the cheese plate. (We still had gigot de sanglier--and the rock-star selection of fromages my sister-in-law, Cécile, had brought, when she and Jean-Marc's mom came for Sunday roast).  While these conveniences would not guarantee Fool Proof Entertaining (this time the toilet broke down and I burned dessert), the ready-made plats certainly lightened my To-Do list!

Speaking of To-Dos, I soon realized, during Friday's meal, one thing I'd left off that list:

Continue to Keep Abreast of French Etiquette! 

Doubts began when I noticed my guests' hesitation before the delicious cheese platter including le comté, la tomme, la gorgonzola, les fromages de brebis... missing was la brousse (finished off that very morning for breakfast--over toast, with apricot jam! What a pity, we could have served this--la brousse avec confiture--for dessert instead of tarte brûlée!)

Cheese Etiquette?

When the much-anticipated plateau de fromage remained untouched the second time around, Eugenia finally admitted: "Once, while eating at a French restaurant, I skipped dessert--opting instead for an additional serving of cheese--when someone pointed out it was impolite to have seconds from the cheese platter." Our guest finished her story with an innocent question. "Is this true? Is it bad manners to have another helping from the cheese platter?"

Everything went silent at the table but for the sound of my husband, the host, stabbing at another piece of comté--his fave.

Whatever the rules, we could see by one Frenchman's actions that there was no need to en faire tout un fromage when it came to cheese etiquette (at least not at our French/American table...). Just dig in and enjoy!


le fromage = cheese
le plat principal = main course
le gigot = leg, thigh
le sanglier = wild boar
la confiture = jam
la tarte = pie, tarte
brûlé(e) = burnt
le fromage de brebis = sheep's cheese
le plateau de fromage = cheese platter
en faire tout un fromage = to make a big deal out of something

Ephemera JM
Holidays are coming soon and there are still a few cases of Ephemera wines available to celebrate with. Jean-Marc is proud to announce that his dear baby joined the prestigious wine list of a Two Stars Michelin restaurant in Marseille, Alexandre Mazzia and says it drinks very well :)
To get some within the USA (if you live in a State that accepts wine shipments), you can contact Avalon Wines.
If you live in the beautiful area of Portland OR, go to Pastaworks Providore, Pastaworks City Market, Portland bottle shop and Oregon Wines on Broadway
Give a call before to make sure there are still on the shelves. At last, for Europe, please contact me at jm.espinasse@gmail.com
French cheese etiquette cheese knife cutting board rocket flowers
Share your favorite cheese in the comments, below, so we may all venture out and discover a new flavor. Also, how do you present your cheese? Simply? Or do you go all out, setting it atop Fresh fig or vine leaves, sprinkling the platter with nuts? Mini chalkboards on a pick to identify each one? Fresh fruit?...

Related Story: How to Say "I'm Full" in French?

Fromage beurre cheese butter shop in Salernes
I leave you with a favorite photo taken in the village of Salernes, and a delightful quote, by Clifton Fadiman, to make you smile: Le fromage: le saut du lait vers l'immortalité. (Cheese: milk's leap toward immortality.)

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