Posted by Bob on March 26, 2001
In Reply to: A la mode posted by ESC on March 25, 2001
: : Hello, I am trying to help a friend out with a French homework question. We know the that "a la mode" is French for in the style or fashion of, but the teacher will give extra credit if anyone can track down how it came to mean "with ice cream" in English. Any ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
: ".After the Revolutionary War our young nation loved its French ally and the French Revolution, and hence French customs, words, and food (which Thomas Jefferson, U.S. Minister to France from 1785 to 1789, helped popularize.) Thus, from the time of Independence, fine American eating establishments have often had a French flavor and a French accent.The French word 'restaurant' ("restoring") was first used to mean an eating establishment in Paris in 1763, then recorded as being used in America in 1827, which was several years before it was used in England.fancy eating places made the word 'restaurant' a part of everyone's vocabulary between the late 1820s and 1855 and, during that same period, added such further French terms to America's restaurant vocabulary as 'filet,' 'bisque,' 'table d'bote,' 'maitre d',' and 'a la' this or that, though the words, then as now, were often more French than the food or service. 'Pie a la mode' had become a dessert and term since the 1880s but became widely known only after Delmonico's added it to its menu around 1918." Delmonico's, established at 44th St. and 5th Ave. in New York in 1897, was the "best loved, most-talked-about restaurant in America." From "Listening to America" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).
: An aside - I was major appliance shopping the other day. The salesman told me that the hot new color is "bisque." But, he said with a wink, "We pronounce it 'biscuit.'" As a concession to ignorance, I guess. Brought to us by the same people who pronounce Chic jeans as Chick jeans.
Mispronouncing French is a national pastime. Witness Versailles (ver-SALES), or DuBois (doo-BOICE) Pennsylvania. Or, for that matter, saying lon-zher-EH, when lingerie is clearly spelled lon-zher-EE.