Et quoi d’autre?

Et quoi d’autre?

ay kwah DOH-truh? Click below to hear this.*

  • And what else?

    Or, more literally, What other?

    How to shop in France, when there’s no hypermarché around:

    Check your purse for your filet–a net shopping bag that scrunches up and goes everywhere with you.

    As you enter l’épicerie, the grocery store, murmur a general greeting: messieurs-dames. Make small talk with the neighbors, if you know them.

    When your turn comes (Et pour vous, Madame?), lay your filet on the counter and ask for your first item. Une boîte de tomates, s’il vous plaît. The storekeeper fetches the can of tomatoes for you and jots the price down on a slip of paper. Et quoi d’autre? she asks you.

    Ask for your three large potatoes, 200 grams of gruyère, two apples, 100 grams of jambon en tranches–très minces, s’il vous plaît (ham slices, very thin, please), and a tube de mayonnaise. She comes and goes. You wait patiently. After each item, the storekeeper asks Et quoi d’autre?

    Done? Say Je crois que c’est tout. The storekeeper adds up your bill, you pay and thank the storekeeper, you say Au revoir, m’sieur-dame to the store in general, and go on your way. The tomatoes are in the bottom of your filet, the potatoes and apples next, wrapped individually in newsprint, your ham and cheese in greaseproof paper on top of them, and your tube of mayo tucked down one side, also wrapped so it won’t fall through the netting.

    When you stop at the bakery, you’ll go through the same routine. Your golden-brown baguette is still hot from the oven, so it will be wrapped about the middle with another piece of the ubiquitous newsprint. You carry it home poking out of your filet, carefully arranged so you can use your free hand to chip away at the outside crust as you walk. Nothing tastes better!

    *Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:


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