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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème

This expression is more than just your last order at the boulangerie.

French Expression of the Day: Tarte à la crème
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Why do I need to know tarte à la crème ?

Because if someone uses this phrase to describe you, you should probably be a bit offended.

What does it mean?

Tarte à la crème – pronounced tart ah lah krem – literally refers to a cream filled tart, or a custard tart, in English. However, this expression has more to do than just baking. It is another way of describing something that is boring, predictable or commonplace.

This expression comes straight from Moliere himself. In the 17th century, there was a popular rhyming game called “Corbillon.” The phrase “Je vous passe mon corbillon” (I pass you by corbillon) is said, and then it is followed by “Qu’y met-on?” (What does one put on it?) To keep the rhyme up, people must respond with something ending in an -ON sound.

In the play, “L’Ecole des Femmes” (The School of Wives), one character says the ideal woman would respond to the question with “tarte à la crème” which is obviously the wrong answer. The right answer would be tarte à la citron (lemon tart). Molière did this on purpose to poke fun at the fact that disgruntled fans would send poor actors cream tarts to express their frustration.

It was a way of ridiculing his critics and showing he was unimpressed by their method of showing discontentment at his plays. Over time, the phrase went on to describe things that are commonplace or boring. It is often used to describe entertainment related topics, such as books, movies, or plays.

A synonym for this phrase in French might be banal and in English you might say something is ‘vanilla’ to describe something that is fairly unexciting.

Use it like this

Le film était vraiment tarte à la crème. Je ne recommande pas d’aller le voir au cinéma, vous pouvez attendre de le voir une fois qu’il sera gratuit en ligne. – The movie was really boring. I don’t recommend going to see it at the movies, you can simply wait to see it once it is free online.

Je pense que l’album est tarte à la crème. Elle a pris tellement d’idées d’autres artistes que ce n’est vraiment pas original du tout. – I think the album is predictable. She really took plenty of ideas from other artists and it was not original at all.

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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: À la rush

If you want to excuse a lack of attention to detail, you could use this French expression.

French Expression of the Day: À la rush

Why do I need to know À la rush ?

Because you may not have known you could use this English word in French too.

What does it mean?

À la rush roughly pronounced ah la rush –  means to do something in a rush or at the last minute. 

As you may have noticed, this slang expression uses both English and French words. “Rush” is used in the same sense as it is in English – to mean in a hurried or hasty fashion.

À la rush is similar to another French expression that mixes the two languages: “à la one again” which means to do something carelessly or without thinking.

The English word “rush” is also used in other French expressions, like être dans le rush, which means to be in a hurry or in a busy situation, although if you were speaking more formal French you would probably describe yourself as pressé if you want to say you are in a rush or in a hurry.

Use it like this

Je l’ai fait à la rush parce que je n’avais pas le temps de me préparer – I did it hastily because I did not have time to prepare.

Il a écrit l’article à la rush, donc il y a plusieurs fautes d’orthographe. – He wrote the article in a rush, so there were several spelling mistakes.

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