Learn French: Sugar in Your Coffee?

By Kristin Espinasse

CafeSometimes I bring my husband his first cup of coffee in the morning: a thoughtful gesture that I learned from him. He likes his java—or kawa—with a little more milk in it than I do and he prefers it a bit moins chaud.

I no longer have to drop two morceaux de sucre into his cup, not since he listened to Reason when she whispered to him, "C'est aussi bon sans sucre!"—coffee is just as good without it... once you get used to le goût. Besides, two fewer cubes to stir saves time in the morning.

Once I have microwaved the milk and filled each tasse with coffee, it is time to remember whose is whose, that is, which cup of coffee is his (more milk, less hot) and which is mine (the strong steamy stuff), before heading upstairs with les boissons.

The cups look alike (clear glass mugs), so in order to not confuse the drinks I "mark" them with a hand designation. "His is Left. Mine's Right," I mumble to myself regarding my hands and our coffees. Sometimes I fret that by the time I make it up the stairs—and down the hall to the bedroom—I'll forget whose is whose and end up with the tepid milky stuff (his!). But, in fact, it isn't that hard for me to remember. "Mine," I confirm, "is RIGHT!" It sometimes helps to repeat the affirmation: "Right. I'm right. God knows I'm ALWAYS RIGHT!" as I head upstairs with our morning cups of Joe.

This coffee identification system works well for me, especially when I am the least bit "conflicted" with my husband....

"He is GAUCHE. I am RIGHT!" I'll grumble, gripping the cups as I bring him his coffee along with a forced smile and a "Good morning, Chéri!" (I learned that one from him, too: to begin the day with 'Bonjour, Cherie'!").

But when things are smooth and sailing in our marriage, I sometimes submit, carrying my coffee in the left (gauche!) hand and my husband gets to be the "right" one. Fair's fair.

French Vocabulary

moins chaud = less hot

le kawa = (from the Arabic "kahwa" or "coffee")

le morceau de sucre = sugar cube

le goût = taste

une tasse (à café) = coffee cup

une boisson = drink

gauche = left (also: awkward, warped, skew)

Bonjour chéri = Good morning, dear

Kristin Espinasse is the author of Blossoming in Provence (below) and her blog, French Word-A-Day, began in 2002. She photographs the villages around her wine farm in Provence, where she lives with two Goldens, a Marseillais, and their Franco-American kids.

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