A Little Cabbage, A Little Tomato, A Little Rabbit; A Recipe for French Flattery – Blog
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Blog · Paris · A Little Cabbage, A Little Tomato, A Little Rabbit; A Recipe for French Flattery
May 20, 2020

A Little Cabbage, A Little Tomato, A Little Rabbit; A Recipe for French Flattery

By Tracy Whipple
Head of French green cabbage
takespace

If you’ve been called a “little pig” by a Parisian, maybe think twice about doling out a claque au visage.

Instead, maybe they deserve a baiser sur la bouche.

The practice of greeting a loved one with a cutesy name is so wonderfully French. While it’s usually done with children, it isn’t necessarily unusual for one honey to call their sweetie mon petit lapin” (my little rabbit) or maybe mon petit gâteau” or “mon petit cœur en sucre” (my little cake/sweetheart). If you’re a “ma petit chatte” (little kitten), someone really adores you in a very Parisian way.

Painting of a kitten looking down through a wall
Such a sweetie!

Some monikers are more typical, like mon petit chouchou” or mon petit agneau”, while others more non-traditionally creative. Being ma petite tomate” or ma petite carrotte” may be a bit more nouveau French sweet-speak but they have a ring to them just the same.

And the ‘ma’ or ‘mon’ only applies to the sex of the vegetable, not of the person receiving the nickname.

Yes, in French, vegetables have a sex. C‘est comme ça.

It is how it is.

Head of French green cabbage
Oh j’adore…ma petite chou!

Is you’re favorite little girl a bit on the wild side? Maybe she can be mon petit loup” (my little wolf). Have a good-humored teen that’s going through some changes but you want to lighten the mood and let him know he’s still a #1 son? “Patate poilue” (hairy potato) might be the perfect nickname. Just be careful not to accidentally call him out in front of his friends using that endearment. But if you have asked him to clean his room a thousand times without any results, it could possibly be used as blackmail inspiration.

Ever-clever and forever fans of sweet-nothings, Parisians can make just about anything adorable. To that end, they can be extremely good at making something not-so-positive sound positively magical. “Mon petit Maroilles” sounds like a lovely nuzzled utterance, until you take into account that Maroilles is incredibly pungent smelling cheese.

Regardless, it’s quite sweet to be someone’s little something-or-other. And many really Parisians do love a fromage with a bit of l’odeur de la petite culotte de bonne sœur. Is it considered charming to be called a ‘little head of cabbage’ or a ‘little pumpkin’? The French language is extremely intricate and nuance-filled. There are so many ways to describe the simplest of ideas, but there are also times when a word for something as simple as ‘home‘ does not exist, literally. It can be utterly baffling, but if there is one thing is almost exclusively true, it is that it makes no difference to most Parisians. When asked “why is it this way?” they will usually just answer with a ‘c’est comme ça.”