It came to my attention again recently that I use French terms readers don’t necessarily understand. Society is rife with such phrases, so it becomes my duty to give a little lesson from time to time.

Since it is still considered de rigueur (socially and culturally obligatory) for a well-bred person to know some French, please pay attention.

Plateau de fromages: a selection of cheeses

Plateau à fromages: a cheeseboard. Articles are important words in French. They change everything.

Posez le plateau sur la table, merci: Put the tray on the table, please. Said when you want to impress the waiters and caterers.

Apéritif: from Latin, meaning to open. When you open the liquor and start drinking before dinner.

À propos de: on the subject of. Realizing how important articles are to the French, English has dropped them. “Apropos yesterday, what happened?” See apéritif.

En brochette: society talk for shish kebab

Faux: fake. As in “Her jewels are faux.” Or her fur. Because if she has faux jewels, she probably has faux fur also.

Garçon: boy. You can’t call waiters this anymore, so don’t.

Haute couture: high-priced sewing

Haute cuisine: high-priced cooking

Oh là là: oh dear. What you say when the hostess’s jewels are faux.

Sang froid: 18th century French, means cold blood. The ability to keep one’s composure. What you need in society.

Savoir faire: knowing how to do or social grace. What people think when you speak French.

Bon ton: sophistication, elegance, etiquette. Not to be confused with bons temps, which means to have a good time, usually without those three things.

Adieu: until God. Farewell. What you say to someone when you hope not to see them again in this life.

Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate.  She can be reached at

Debutante Ball

The Eta Chi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority held its Winter Cotillion, “An Enchanted Evening of Elegance,” at the Doubletree Hilton. Sixteen debutantes were presented, over 500 guests attended the strictly formal event and lovely in white were Dwan Jackson, Troi Acker, Madison Coulon, Kennedy Walker, Cai Helaire, Takiyah Dupas, Courtlynn Thomas, Alexis Sam, Payton Beaner, Lindsay Greer, Kennedy Benjamin, Faith Mayfield, Tylynn Richard, Xaviera McCray, Robbi Palmer and Dawn Thomas. Tea girls in green ushered the crowd, Thailund Porter-Green ushered The Advocate around, and we have to say the gentlemen escorts gave the ladies some fierce competition. Alpha Kappa Alpha will celebrate its Founders Day and 110th anniversary this year in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

Queen’s Tea

Lafayette’s Queen Berengaria of Navarre LXV Catherine Elizabeth Matt had tea with fellow regent Queen Anna Maeve Reilly, of the Mystick Krewe of Louisianians, at the Baton Rouge Country Club. The young ladies and their mothers are busy preparing for Washington, D.C., Mardi Gras where King Todd Graves, of Raising Canes renown, will reign. We also have it on good authority that Mark Ackal is the Acadiana gentleman most instrumental in the planning of the D.C. Mardi Gras.

Les Brigands de Lafitte

If we hadn't seen it with our own eyes, we wouldn't believe it. Ladies attending the Brigands Ball at The Heymann were let indoors in lieu of lining up on the sidewalk for hours. Only the second time in Brigands history, the departure from tradition was the result of low temperatures and all-day negotiations. "After all, they're sheltering the homeless," quipped one male floor committee member. Known for its raucous but elegant revelry, ladies line up to make a rush for tables, and the security staff briefing at the convention center is nothing short of SWAT. Enjoying the rare central heating was Pam Stroup, Merilyn Crain, Leisa Comeaux and Anita Saitta, while looking sharp were brothers Robert and Richard Foard, Blaine Goodrich and Sterling Lejeune Jr. Brigands is a mystic krewe so their skulduggery is secret, but the king's float had a "Godfather" theme, and in true pirate fashion, Judy Kennedy nicked her finger with the Brie knife and bound it up backstage with toupee tape. That be pirates fer ye.