That's what I sort of imagine my junior high French teacher, M. Ferron saying to me after my heartening experience last night at Fringale up in San Francisco. In passing, M. Ferron put up with so much shit from my class - it was his first year teaching, his English was still a little shaky, and if he were ten years older than us little bastards, I would be amazed. The greatest thing is, he stuck it out, and is *still* teaching at the same school and gets bonus ratings on Rate My Teacher. So, allez, M. Ferron! I apologize en masse for the whole graduating class of 1989.
Anyway, Fringale is a delight of a restaurant, with the exception of their speed in bringing water to the table; they do appear to hire honest to God French (or French Canadian) staff, which is of course charming as all hell. Our particular waiter was chatty and teasing and lovely, all very nice. Most of the menu offerings are completely translated into English, but when dessert rolled around, I noticed that the cheese plate was in fact labeled as "plateau de fromages", so that's how I ordered it. And I'll be damned if the waiter didn't look at me in surprise and say "you speak French! Why didn't you tell me?". Except of course he said "Pourquoi ne m'avez-vous pas dit?" so.freaking.fast I must have looked at him goggle eyed. At which point he graciously asked me in English. I think I said something lame like "well, I grew up in Toronto, but it's been a long time - and I learned Quebecois French of course!". He laughed and told me one of the other waiters was from Quebec, bonhomie all around, etc.
At any rate, it was bizarrely gratifying to think that my accent was still decent enough to cause a waiter to do a double take. Unless of course he was completely angling for an even better tip than we gave him. But I like my first version better, so that's what I'm sticking with. I generally don't try to speak French in restaurants or whatnot even if the other person's origins are pretty obvious - it just seems so completely douchey, like one of those godawful Yuppies who spend two weeks in Italy and then try to establish a rapport in "Italian" with any waiter they come across. That, and for all that I was immured in French classes for eleven years, I can read it a whole lot better than I can speak or understand it, especially after living down here for nearly as long.
I think M. Ferron would still be pleased, though.
by at April 13, 2008 2:15 PM