French expression of the Day: Gauche caviar

French expression of the Day: Gauche caviar
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Actually nothing to do with food, this is an expression that you might hear flung about as campaigning hots up for next month's municipal elections.

Why do I need to know gauche caviar?

Well firstly you need to establish that you're not being offered a tasty fish snack if someone says this you and it may also come in handy as an insult.

What does it mean?

Literally translated as 'caviar left' this is actually a derogatory political term roughly equivalent to 'champagne socialist' in English.

It's used for people who espouse leftist or socialist values but live the lifestyle of the elites.

So if you know someone who is always banging on about solidarity with the workers while at the same time splurging on an expensive lifestyle and paying their cleaner the bare minimum this is a good insult to fling at them.

Vous parlez de solidarité mais en réalité vous n'êtes qu'une gauche caviar – You talk about solidarity but really you're just a champagne socialist

Ces politiciens gauche caviar séjournent tous dans des hôtels cinq étoiles – Those champagne socialist politicians all stay in five-star hotels

There's a fairly heavyweight list of French politicians, artists and intellectuals who have been accused of this, including Dominique Strauss-Kahn (although it's possible that wasn't the worst thing about him), François Mitterrand, Anne Hidalgo, Bernard-Henri Lévy and Françoise Sagan.

Alternatives include gauche de salon (drawing room socialist) or gauche Toscane after the favoured holiday destination of a certain type of European elite.

Just as in English, there isn't really an alternative for a right-winger who has sold out on their principles. The term droite cassoulet briefly featured in political discourse in 2008 but it was a joke, coined by comedian Anne Roulanoff.

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