doggie bag: un sac pour emporter . . .
les restes d’un repas d’un restaurant à la maison. Could that be the French phrase for “doggie bag?” It translates roughly as “a sack for carrying out the rest of a meal from a restaurant to the house (or home).” No word for “doggie bag” exists in France because the restuarants do not offer it. It does not exist. You must eat all your food. Or else. However, I have a doggy bag kit when I go to a restaurant in France.
Sometimes the meals in restaurants are trop gros, and I don’t want leave good food behind, so I take my doggie bag kit in my male-bag which I carry with me all the time. (It holds my camera, note pad, a book or two, among other things.) The doggie bag kit consists of a small plastic bag and a sheet of folded aluminum foil and sometimes a clean napkin. When no one is looking, and you must be stealthy here and you must look to the right and to the left to see if your neighbors are paying attention or if the servateur is looking your way or if the chef is by chance looking from the kitchen, you pick up the morsel and wrap it and quickly hide it in your bag. Of course, after putting it away, you look around to see if you are caught. I have never been caught. At least I think not. At least no one has looked my way and winked or put her fingers to her lips to signal a secret between us.
I write this today, because I saw–no, I witnessed–a doggie bag produced in a French bistro today. I could not believe what I was seeing. Witnessing, as if it were a crime being committed before my eyes. The servateur, excusez-moi, two servateurs produced two plastic bags and some aluminum foil and actually helped the tourists wrap their excess food. And . . . and they spoke broken English to French waiters. Do I say more? A round of pleasantries between the couple and the waiters ensued, and everyone continued with their day: the tourists left and immediately the man snapped a photo and the waiters took orders for cafés from customers who had just walked in and were oblivious to the drama that had just transpired.
Mike – You may have eye-witnessed a ground-breaking shift in French culture! Years from now if doggie bags (shall I coin the term?: “sacs des chiens”) become an accepted part of a restaurant experience, you can write a letter to the editor of Le Monde detailing how you were there when it all began.
The French do use the phrase “un doggy bag” for the lack of better word or phrase in French. “Sacs des chiens” is a good alternative, but a better word in French for “doggie or doggy” might be “toutou.” That will give you the phrase “un sac de toutou,” which might be too close to the English expression “a sack of doodoo,” and we don’t want that when we leave a restaurant, especially if it is a French resto. Did you know that there is a French film titled “Doggie Bag?” Check it out. Also, Lil’ Bow Bow, the rapper, did a CD called “Doggy Bag.” Le Monde would be good. So would Oprah or maybe even Charlie Rose.