Les « Intraduisibles »
Too French for translation…
The French are renowned for their exquisite culinary tastes, so it is not surprising that they have a specific term to capture this love of good food: gourmandise. The noun derives from the Middle French adjective ‘gourmant’, referring to an individual with ‘a health appetite’ and ‘a cultivated appreciation for dining’. The French word Gourmandise therefore refers not simply to an insatiable hunger, but equally to a refined taste in dining.
Possible counterparts such as gluttony and greed do exist in the English language but they only suffice to the extent that they translate the negative connotations of gourmandise. No suitable offering manages to encapsulate the idea of a general love and passion for good produce. While ‘gourmandism’ has at times been witnessed in English texts, its usage is attested as an improper variation of the adjective ‘gourmand’.
This sense of intense pleasure brought on by fine food is evinced in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 film Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain. The protagonist describes her particular enjoyment of certain products in great detail, such as the eating of raspberries from her fingertips and the cracking of the sugar crust of a crème brûlée. This famous work of cinema, set against the backdrop of Montmartre, captures the appreciative and cultivated qualities of gourmandise.