French word of the day: Saucer

French word of the day: Saucer
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
This little word has a big cultural lesson, which is key learning for foreigners in France (and no, it's not crockery).

Why do I need to know saucer?

Because it describes an important French everyday activity.

What does it mean?

In French saucer is a verb, unlike in English where a saucer is something that goes with a cup for serving a nice cup of tea.

The verb saucer directly translates as ‘to sauce’ while the noun la sauce in French means ‘sauce’ or salad dressing.

Saucer is a versatile verb (France loves its sauces) in food related settings, and it can refer to anything from pouring sauce over a plate to dipping bread in a bowl of soup, depending on the context. 

But saucer son assiette (to sauce your plate) refers to the very French activity of mopping up the remains on your plate with a piece of bread. French online dictionary l’Internaute defines it as “using bread to rid the plate from leftover sauce”. 

If you have been to France or spent time with French people, you will undoubtedly have seen people do this. Some cultures regard it as bad manners, but smearing your bread around the edges of your plate it perfectly acceptable in France – it’s just a sign that you appreciated your meal.

READ ALSO The French eating habits the world should learn from

Bread is a key element to French meals and there’s a long list of dos and don’ts for how you treat it. The French rip the baguette rather than cut it, and when you eat dinner you’ll generally break your piece into smaller pieces that you then use to sauce up the little bits your cutlery can’t catch.

READ ALSO: Baguettiquette: Weird things the French do with bread

When a plate is saucé, it is ‘mopped’.

Use it like this

J’adore saucer mon assiette. Je trouve que c’est le meilleur moment du repas. – I love mopping my plate, for me it’s the best bit of the meal.

Les anglais ne saucent pas leurs assiettes, c’est mal vu là-bas. – In England people don’t mop their plates, it’s considered bad manners over there.

Les plats sont saucés, il ne reste plus rien. – The plates are mopped, there’s nothing left.


Tremper – to dip

Eponger – to mop

Essuyer – to wipe

Member comments

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  1. This is not considered entirely bad if it is done with a bit of flair. That is using a fork to hold the bread and then sweeping the plate. Doing it while holding the bread with your fingers is rather crude.

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