In French, the term "patate” is sometimes used to describe an animal that is very cute and has a very endearing character. Dogs and cats are known for their sweetness and affectionate side, and that is why they are often nicknamed "potato." (French translation below)
TODAY'S WORD: “la patate”
Enfin, le terme « patate » est parfois utilisé pour décrire un animal qui est très mignon et qui a un caractère très attachant. Les chiens et les chats sont connus pour leur douceur et leur côté affectueux, et c'est pourquoi ils sont souvent surnommés « patate » —Kingpet.fr
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
"Les Patates (The Potatoes)"
This month we are sharing our home with two little dogs, Izzy (pronounced "Easy") and Loca— otherwise known as “Les Patates.” The chiens belong to our son's girlfriend, Ana, who lives in Montpellier but braves many aller-retours to La Ciotat to be near Max. And because Max temporarily moved back in with us after renting out his snazzy apartment to tourists, we have le jeune couple here at home along with the dogs.
Though I am a dog-lover, I didn't have an instant connection with these two toutous. I think any hesitation was more on the part of the dogs than on me. They only seemed interested in me when I was eating. Perhaps that is where they get their amusing surnom? (Ana calls them Les Patates which means “The Potatoes” in colloquial French.)
“Foodies” could just as easily be a surnom for these little sausages—given their ability to instantly manifest at the sound of a wrapper, or any ear-raising inking of food.
As for me, I call them “Les Filles”, even if they are more like Les Mémés, or grandmas—hard of hearing and with cataracts. It took several visits before one of the girls eventually warmed to me. That is how Izzy (the 10-year-old pocket beagle) became my favorite, or le chouchou. I began to notice how sweet she is, how she'll eventually give you a kiss if you lean down and repeat "bisous" enough times, and how she wags her tail like a puppy when passing strangers on the street.
After having two big dogs, I am seeing many advantages of small ones: they're easier to handle when out on a walk and they are moins encombrants (not that dogs could ever take up too much space in our lives, could they?). Compactness is a plus when it comes to hosting a couple of canines along with extra company (did I mention our daughter is home for vacation, too?).
As things get busier, messier, and louder around our household this summer, I have discovered an unexpected connection with the second dog, Loca, the French bulldog-Jack Russell mix. She too needs a room of her own, and blankets and snacks and YouTube when the world begins to hurl and whirl around her. Like that, one morning, the two of us found ourselves cuddled up in bed when a familiar feeling returned to me after a year sans chien: la paix.
There is something so calming about a dog snuggled by one’s side. Dogs are like comfort food, they nourish us in ways a healthy diet can’t. They fill and refuel us like a humble potato. Perhaps that is why the French call them “les patates”….
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Thanks in advance for your comments which are the icing on the cake of this edition! I love to read your words and learn so much from you (including spelling and grammar--so don't hesitate to send in a correction). Click here to leave a comment.
la patate = potato
le chien = dog
l’aller-retour = round trip
le jeune couple = the young couple
le toutou = dog
le surnom = nickname
les filles = the girls
les mémés = the grandmas
le chouchou = the favorite
le bisous = kiss
moins encombrant = less in the way
sans chien = without dog
la paix = peace
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