Espèce de ganache!

Espèce de ganache!

ess-PESS duh gah-NAHSH!  Click below to hear this:

You idiot!

So many levels to this…where to begin?

At the beginning, I suppose.

I am indebted to my friend Françoise Mishinger for this expression. No, she didn’t call me names!

Espèce de is the start of an insult. It means, literally, some kind of... There are many possibilities for ending it: I once heard a slow driver in a Parisian traffic jam called espèce de tortueyou turtle!

But the real fun comes with ganache. You may know this as the word for a rich, creamy chocolate confection used to layer cakes, fill bonbons, and otherwise raise cholesterol and add calories.

But check the dictionary (mine is Le Petit Robert, 1970): it also refers to a part of a horse’s face between the cheek and the jawbone (the inner, back part of the lower jaw, no less). It’s from the Italian word for jaw, and the French word has been around since around 1642, at least.

At some point in the late 18th century, this word came to be used as an insult: you idiot! stupid! and the like.

So, as the story goes: a cook poured too much heavy cream into the vat of melted chocolate. The chef cuisinier yelled at the hapless sous-chef by calling him Espèce de ganache! And so ganache–the chocolate version, that is–was born.

So they say!

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