Sunday, March 25, 2007

How to ask for Coffee Ground for Italian Coffepots in France

For two years I have been buying my coffee ground to order from the place in the Halle on Place Martiniere and for two years I have avoided the noun "grind" as in which grind would you like, ma'am? I have never been quite sure how to say it and just kind of started with a syllable Mou... and then adding various endings, depending on my mood, or twisting the sentence around to accomodate the words I did know, saying perhaps one day "Ground in the style of Italy, please", or "Fait (with hand movement) Italienne svp" Lazy me. I never checked to see what the proper word (probably would have been easy!) because the moment passes, the message is conveyed easily enough. I always get my coffee, anyway. Last night I really mangled it and she finally came out and corrected me. THANK YOU! She even added that the word could be considered a trap, and it wasn't my fault. I love it when people excuse me for mangling their language.

In learning foreign languages, you grab a unique scenario in your mind that you can't forget. Imagine you're sitting around a fire the morning after a party enjoying particularly delicious ventreche and eggs in the country at Kate Hill's place.

Suddenly, the dog starts going crazy. Imagine that your hostess puts her garden clogged foot down and says - oh, you might want to go out and see this. Imagine actually feeling the vibration and hearing the sound before it comes through, and then witnessing an enormous mutton herd steamroll its way through Kate's backyard, along the tow path by the canal, smashing and killing everything green in its path. Imagine a mutton hoof coming down on a clump of grass and tearing it out of the ground, mud flying, the force of sheer mutton heft ripping it from the ground. The animals stop here and there to tug interesting bits from the garden and then run off to catch up. The sum of these forces leaves a dark muddy trail of mutton prints as a reminder of what just came through.

Mouture Italienne, s'il vous plait.

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Blogger Francine said...

I haven't found our stovetop italian coffee maker. I think it got thrown out in our moving frenzy. So I spent Friday in a non-caffeinated haze! Luckily we got filters for the regular coffee machine yesterday. I can think again! :)ujs

2:16 PM, March 25, 2007  
Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

I wish I had enough French to even mangle some words! I have so few.
Your last photo makes me long for another French canal barge trip!
"oh, you might want to go out and see this" I guess so!

3:23 PM, March 25, 2007  
Blogger franchini said...

The morning rush hour there looks far more pleasurable than the one we have here in London.

2:18 PM, March 26, 2007  
Blogger Connie said...

what a funny little story. like a cloudburst, unexpected... come and gone. silly sheep!

4:34 PM, March 26, 2007  
Blogger Katie said...

That word is indelibly imprinted in my mind like tiny hooves in soft clay.
Thank you!

9:34 PM, March 26, 2007  
Blogger Kitt said...

Wow. Great story. Great picture.

4:10 AM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Anita said...

Lovely story. I have a strange feeling, though, that if I keep this scenario in mind that I might ask the coffee-seller for "mouton italien" :)

8:02 PM, March 27, 2007  
Blogger Kate Hill said...

Lucy, those 800 hooves have made a mud-lucious spring mess of the towpath, but all is forgiven as the sound of bells drift against the evening sky. Now, if they only would deliver the coffee!

8:34 PM, March 28, 2007  
Anonymous pat said...

et alors... how do you say grind for my moka, svp? When I try, including using "moka" as a helper word, the French coffee sellers looked quite baffled. Can you share this new-found (and useful) verb or phrase?

3:08 AM, March 29, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Thanks for all of your thoughtful comments. Pat, I hope you find answers to your mocha conundrum. I wish I could help...

2:05 PM, March 29, 2007  

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