I ate at a Lebanese restaurant with a friend this week.
We sat at a table near the door. Just as we began to eat, a man entered the restaurant. He approached me and looked at what I had ordered.
Then he asked:
C’est quoi ça?
I told him it was the falafel dish. I didn’t mind the question. I was even glad he asked. I mean, hey, it’s frustrating to see a stranger eat something delicious and not know how to order it yourself.
Then he asked another question:
Est-ce que c’est bon?
Is it good?
I answered him again. As a good Samaritan, I was happy to impart a quick and positive opinion about my falafels to a stranger.
Then he asked:
Combien t’as payé ça?
How much did you pay for it?
I answered him again, but now I was hoping he’d stop asking questions. I was hungry and wanted to eat.
The man had other ideas, though. He wasn’t ready to give up. He wanted more. He wanted to look into my soul:
Pourquoi t’as choisi cette assiette?
Why did you choose this dish?
Shit, man. I don’t know. I ordered it ‘cos I like it. We done yet?
Nope. He had yet another question for me, and it included the expression I most dislike in French:
Est-ce que ça représente un bon rapport qualité-prix?
Does it represent a good quality-to-price ratio?
OK seriously, guy?
Stop playing the journalist, go order the fucking falafels, then come back and tell me what you think.
I think this guy’s watched too many episodes of L’épicerie.
The expression un bon rapport qualité-prix is used frequently in advertising.
On television, you’ll hear it used on shows like L’épicerie, where the hosts compare products to help consumers make informed purchases.
I hear the expression often enough in French that it sickens me. When my inquisitioner used it, I wanted to shove my falafels up his nose. Free of charge. Le meilleur rapport qualité-prix en ville.
In the end, the guy didn’t order falafels. In fact, he didn’t order anything at all. He said thanks, turned around, and walked out the restaurant.
Ah come on, man! Live a little. Go do something wild, like eat a falafel…