On a dîné hier soir à la bonne franquette.
aw nah dee-nay yair swaa rah lah bun frah-KET. Click below to hear this.*
Last night we had a simple family-style meal.
If I had invited you for dinner last evening, this is what you would have gotten. The menu was potato soup with a few toppings, and home-baked bread. That’s a real family-style meal–nothing fancy, pure simplicity. That’s a meal à la bonne franquette, which means simple, without ceremony, without fuss.
Many speakers of American English would convey this invitation by telling you, “You’ll have to take potluck.” That means that you will eat what’s put in front of you–whatever happens to be in the cooking pot tonight.
The word franquette exists only in this expression, but it is derived from franc, which means open, candid, straightforward, and so on. A meal à la bonne franquette means that your hostess has not gone to any special trouble for you, so you should not be insulted at being treated simply, as would a member of the family. On the contrary, you should consider it an honor to be welcomed in such a way.
*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: