Summer is almost here – can you believe it? I love summer for the sunshine and longer days, of course… but I also love that it’s a season that brings us so much delicious produce, especially fruits!
There’s strawberries… cherries… peaches… raspberries… my mouth is watering just thinking of it all!
Believe it or not, fruits are a good way to learn French. They can be a nice window into French culture–and give you an insider’s confidence in French everyday life!
They’re also delicious, healthy, and full of sugar and energy. Can you eat some in France? Where, and how? Is there really a special song in French about them?
Fruits come in all shapes and sizes, let’s see how we can use them to learn more French!
1. Les fruits
Un fruit is a fruit.
The word has a specific meaning in botany, but today we’ll stick with the common usage of the word.
Did you know?
La tomate, tomato, is botanically a fruit–yet I talked about it in my Quick Guide to Vegetables in French instead.
Fruits can have des pépins, (fruit seeds), or un noyau, (a stone or a pit). Most fruits you eat are des fruits frais, (fresh fruits), but they sometimes come in a different form, as des fruits secs, (dried fruits).
Some of the most common fruits in French are:
La pomme, an apple.
Tomber dans les pommes, to faint
C’est pour ma pomme, I’ll be the one who will have to face the consequences
La poire, a pear.
Une bonne poire, a naive person.
La pêche, a peach
J’ai la pêche, I’m in a good mood, with lots of energy
L’abricot, the apricot
By the way, these four fruits are climactériques, it’s an adjective that means that they continue to ripen after they’re picked.
And ‘Pomme, pêche, poire, abricot’ is also une comptine, the title of a well-known French nursery rhyme.
Did you know?
- Don’t confuse “la pomme” with “la pomme de terre” (“ground apple”), the French name for potatoes.
- Le pommier is the tree bearing apples. Le poirier is the same for pears, but “faire le poirier” is much more athletic: it means “doing a handstand.”
Other popular, non-climacteric fruits are les agrumes, citrus fruits.
Such as le citron, lemon.
L’orange, orange, also the name for the color
La mandarine, a mandarin / a tangerine
Le pamplemousse, grapefruit
The grape, or le raisin, is not a citrus though!
And finally, the local fruit in my city is les noix, walnuts!
L’ananas is a pineapple. La banane is a banana.
La goyave is a guava fruit. It’s uncommon to find it in continental France, but there’s a notable production in French oversea territories such as Reunion Island. There, the fruit even has its own political expression: the positive bias of some islanders for everything that comes from the European part of the country is called “the French guava syndrome.”
Le coing is a quince. It’s delicious in jams or in pies. The “g” is silent, which means the fruit sounds like the French word “le coin,” a corner (and not “la pièce,” a coin.) The fruit comes from a tree with a little-known but funny name: le cognassier, the quince tree. Be careful, it sounds like it might be an insult!
2. Comment acheter des fruits ?
Comment acheter des fruits?
How can you buy some fruits?
First, you can go to un marchand de fruits et légumes, a shop for fruits & vegetables, also called un primeur.
Or secondly, they’re also available at le marché, your local market, or le supermarché, the supermarket.
The script is very similar to the one for buying vegetables or any other product at the market or at le petit commerçant, a ‘mom & pop’ shop. Don’t forget la politesse, good manners! Mainly, Bonjour, Hello, S’il vous plaît, please, and Merci, thank you!
Bonjour, je voudrais cent grammes de cerises bio, s’il vous plaît.
Hello, I’d like one hundred grams of organic cherries, please.
Bonjour ! Je vais vous prendre cinq bananes, s’il vous plaît.
Hi! I’ll have… five bananas, please.
Did you know?
The first sentence use the conjugation of le conditionnel, conditional mode. “I would like…” We often use it to make a polite request. It sounds less like an order than the imperative, and less strict than the indicative “Je veux”, for instance. In French, the conditional sounds like the simple future, but there’s an added silent “s” at the end.
The second sentence uses “le futur proche” (“near future”) which uses “aller + infinitive.” It’s also a simple and idiomatic way for you to express any futur.
Just like with vegetables, you can try to choose des fruits bio, organic fruits, or at least des fruits de saison, seasonal fruits.
3. Cuisiner avec des fruits
Cook with fruits like a French person!
So, how do you try cuisiner avec des fruits, cooking with fruits, in a French way?
Can you use them to cook French recipes at home, for example?
Well, popular fruit recipes are often found in un dessert, dessert.
Such as une tarte, a pie.
It can be une tarte aux pommes, an apple pie, une tarte au citron, a lemon pie, etc.
Or un gâteau, a cake.
-> A popular fruit cake is un fraisier, which is un gâteau aux fraises, a strawberry cake. You can buy one at most boulangeries.
You can also use fruits to make une confiture, jam.
And there are many other things you can do with fruit, such as sharing une pomme d’amour, a candy apple, with a loved one!
We often drink fruits with un jus de fruit, a juice. In any café, you can practice and order an apricot juice, for instance: Je voudrais un jus d’abricot, s’il vous plaît.
Theree’s are not so many uniquely French recipes with fruits, but we can make alcohol with any of them!
Le vin, wine, is obviously a fermented jus de raisin, grape juice.
Le cidre, cider, is made with apples–especially in Normandy.
Le poiré is cider made with pears.
Finally, there’s one famous and delicious French recipe with fruits, that was first created in Paris. It’s the most mysterious dish of all: la tarte Tatin. It’s an apple pie where the fruits were caramelized in butter and sugar. We often eat it with some ice cream on the side, and it’s available in most French restaurants!
Et toi ?
What is your favorite fruit?