Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Word Mystery: cheese / queso / fromage


Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.

It seems pretty unfair to me that in any decent city in the US you can get good cheese sticks, but that in a country that’s known for its cheese, you can’t.

American cheesesticks

These are some I got at 10 in the damn morning at a diner in New York and they were perfect. They were fried just right and had the right kind of seasoning on the breading and they were served with warm marinara sauce.

Any time I’ve seen cheese sticks on menus here, they’re served with sweet-and-sour sauce. Sweet-and-sour sauce! Like the kind in Chinese restaurants! It’s too upsetting to get into further so instead of letting my mood turn sour, I’ll get on with today’s Mystery.

EN → cheese — a food made from the pressed curds of milk. ORIGIN Old English cēse, cȳse; related to Dutch kaas and German Käse; from Latin casĕus [cheese].

ES → quesoProducto obtenido por maduración de la cuajada de la leche con características propias para cada uno de los tipos según su origen o método de fabricación. [Product obtained through the aging of milk curd, with unique characteristics according to its origin or preparation.] ORIGIN Latin casĕus.

FR → fromageProduit alimentaire obtenu par coagulation du lait, égouttage du caillé ainsi obtenu et, éventuellement, affinage. [Food product obtained by curdling milk, draining the curb thus obtained and, eventually, refining it.] ORIGIN Old French formage from Low Latin formaticus casĕus [molded cheese].

Catalan note: I should say here that my favorite way to talk about curdled milk is the Catalan as it’s the most fun to say formatge [fohr-MAH-tcha].

French note: Odd that they took the adjective and adopted it. It’s like how the Spanish call that one band “Los Rolling,” not knowing in their infinite cluelessness that they sound like idiots.

If life were fair, Latin would be the winner today since it was the unlikely source for all three words today. But if life were fair, I’d be able to get good cheese sticks anywhere at any time, so I’m going to declare that no one wins today. Take that, Latin!


queso cheese sauce

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

4 thoughts on “Word Mystery: cheese / queso / fromage

  1. I don’t think I have ever eaten a cheese stick. I have passed through life (so far) cheese stick blind.

  2. I somehow equate these with deep fried twinkles.

    • You, sir, have offended me deeply. Fried Twinkies (which I’ve never had only because I don’t like Twinkies) are state-fair food. Cheese sticks are bar / diner food, which is to say, they’re *way* classier.

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