Friday, April 01, 2011

Poisson d'avril

Poisson d'avril, as you may know, is the French equivalent of "April Fools." While taping a paper fish to someone's back isn't the essence of hilarity, what the heck. But my favorite French funny-fish story bears re-posting. It actually took place at the plush Cercle de l'Union interalliƩe in Paris the last time I had lunch with the wonderful late Polly Platt. Polly had her back to the couple and missed all the action.

In a large sky-blue dining room with 25-foot ceilings and a hushed atmosphere, a kindly American couple sits primly at the elegant table nearby, scanning their large white menus through their reading glasses. The waiter returns to their side, and with a short bow he flourishes the answer to the question they had asked which had sent him scurrying. "Eet is 'goldfish'," he announces.

"Goldfish?" Startled, the husband and wife look at each other in disbelief. They shake their heads and hastily dive back into their menus to find another selection
. I return to my menu to make my choice for lunch. The poisson du jour is rouget.

("Rouget" is red mullet -- delicious. "Poisson rouge" is goldfish.)


Anonymous said...

Goldfish? Well, yeah, this crazy French gastronomy, you know honey... :-D

Rick said...

Since living here in Paris, for 16 years, only once did I actually see a fish taped to someone's back. I was at a magazine's office waiting for an appointment. Four people were leaving for lunch and when they passed me, one of the men had a fish on his back. After they left the receptionist and I just looked at each other and laughed.

Margaret said...

I think it's a great idea to play REAL April Fool's Day jokes on French people - because they're so unprepared!! Heh heh heh, permit me an evil chuckle...

Polly-Vous Francais said...

There were a few paper fish taped on backs at the French school where I work. Maybe it's more of akid thing??

Dave Trowbridge said...

I had a friend endear himself to the clerks in a duty-free shop in France by asking if they had Poisson perfume.

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