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augustlan's avatar

Are any of the things Americans call "French" actually French in origin?

Asked by augustlan (47376points) December 6th, 2012

I remember when I first discovered that french fries are not a French thing. What about french braids, french style green beans, french manicures, and last – but certainly not least – french kissing? Are there others? I can’t think of any more at the moment.

If they’re not really ‘of France’, why do we call them “French”?

Bonus question: What do the French call these things?

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23 Answers

poofandmook's avatar

Don’t forget French toast!

YARNLADY's avatar

Ha, we could ask the same thing of so-called Italian, Mexican or Asian foods.

Brian1946's avatar


I thought some of those things were supposed to be renamed to Freedom fries, Freedom toast, and Freedom kissing. ;-(

If that’s not the case, then the Iraq war was all for nothing! ;-p

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Don’t forget French letters. ;-)

augustlan's avatar

Damn it, I knew I was forgetting some!

zensky's avatar

Possibly Frenchy from Grease is. I have done the research

zensky's avatar

Did not know that is what it’s called. You fluther – you learn.

Earthgirl's avatar

I love French toast! It wasn’t invented in France I find out. In France it’s called Pain Perdu or Lost Bread. By the way, this website I am linking to looks like it might be fun to browse.

Earthgirl's avatar

French Manicure possible origins are listed here. Actually I think in one of the comments below the person may have hit the nail on the head, lol.

It’s funny that the term French Curve came up because that is what fashion designers and pattern makers use when drawing curves to make a graceful line. (It’s used for all kinds of drafting, of course) Some quick googling came up with “this” article about so called French curves stating that they may well be from France but apparently no one knows for sure. I love the little picture of all kinds of French curves in the article! I want to print it out for my studio. I don’t really have a “studio” in truth, just wishing….someday

bookish1's avatar

I’ve heard that “French” fries were a Belgian peasant food…. Brought back to the U.S. by American GIs stationed in Europe for World War I. The French just call them frites (“fries” or “frieds” to be more literal.)

“French style” green beans are indeed French. What they call “haricots verts” are what Americans call French green beans. They are thinner than most American green beans you get in stores, and usually cut on the diagonal, although I’m not sure there’s any other concrete difference. They probably don’t have a word for American green beans because ours are too savage and crude, haha…

I’ve met lots of kids in France who French inhale. I’ve never encountered a word for it, though. It’s just a “smoking trick” as far as I know, although I could be wrong.

French kissing I’m pretty sure they just call kissing haha… But be sure you say “embrasser” because “baiser” means “to fuck” even though “un baiser” is a kiss. HORRIBLY confusing!

Finally, “French bread” as sold in America is A LIE. Don’t fall for it!

filmfann's avatar

What about a French Tickler?
Turns out the British just called it that to make fun of the name of the French flag…

Tropical_Willie's avatar

French polish for furniture and guitars.

cookieman's avatar

Pepe le Pew may not actually be from France.

bookish1's avatar

No idea where “French dressing” comes from, though. Apparently there’s ketchup in there??? Shudders

Aesthetic_Mess's avatar

French onion soup originated in 18th century France

ucme's avatar

Fuck, cunt, twat, bastard…...oops, excuse my french!!
Now that is a weird one.

zenvelo's avatar

@bookish1 Are you telling me a pain baguette as sold in the US as French bread is not the same as a pain baguette sold in Paris or the country side? I swear the artisanal bread places in the SF Bay Area are as authentic as anything on the Rue de Rivoli.

French’s mustard is, I think, strictly American…..

bookish1's avatar

@zenvelo: I’ve heard very good things about the bakers in the Bay Area, but have not sampled them. But as a rule, if you buy something calling itself “French bread” in the U.S., it is likely to be roughly baguette shaped but made by machines, and the texture is completely different. They are supposed to crunch when you break them!

Brian1946's avatar


But as a rule, if you buy something calling itself “French bread” in the U.S., it is likely to be roughly baguette shaped but made by machines, and the texture is completely different.

Are you referring to something like this?

filmfann's avatar

I remember the TV show Family Affair, and Mr. French was definitively British.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@ucme Yea I never understood that one either especially since French isn’t a harsh language or anything.

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