May 24, 2004

Of the two mild coffees

Mark's entry on "doux fard" ("doux ou fort", which the waitress translated as "mild or strong" though I would have guessed "sweet [= with sugar] or black") reminded me of another nuance related to ordering coffee in French-speaking countries: my advice to American travelers is that it's really worth learning to pronounce the difference between the vowels in du, deux, and doux. In Nantes, in 1992, failing to distinguish the first two adequately, I managed to order myself two coffees instead of some coffee. Those who know me can be sure I did not need the extra caffeine.

On the other hand, even "doux fard" is more transparent than New York City's code for coffee-ordering, where "coffee, black" means coffee with two sugars and "coffee, regular" means it has milk and two sugars. (Yeah, buddy, dat's what we considuh REG-yoo-luh. Yugodda problum widdat?) Interestingly, the page I referenced does not contain "light and very sweet" -- my preferred combination, which, when done properly, has the taste of very hot melted coffee ice cream.

Posted by Philip Resnik at May 24, 2004 07:26 PM