les choux et les marrons

by jemma margaret

There is the oft touted example of how a culture must care a lot about a certain thing if it has many different names for its subtle types. This is particularly cited in regards to Eskimos and snow.

Conversely, but I think equally telling, is when many different things carry variants on the same name. Take for instance, the culture surrounding a certain brand of electronic devices, the names of which might imply that members of that culture care a lot about themselves.

But before there was “i—” there was “chou—.”


Le chou, on its own is a cabbage. Le chou fleur a cauliflower. Les choux des bruxelles are brusselsprouts (one of those always plural vegetables–because who eats a brusselsprout?). And I recently learned that kale might be called le chou hollandaise or le chou frisée (and kale with hollandaise sauce…). You might call a loved one mon petit chou, and that would be a very sweet thing to say.

English clearly doesn’t like cabbage so much. We kept the flowers and brussels, but managed to avoid the second half of the description. What is a cauli?


On a lesser scale, but perhaps more charming since not as closely related, are les marrons (chestnuts) and les potimarrons (pumpkins). I have been eating a lot of both of these lately since they require roasting and thus are winter imperatives. Apparently, their name similarity is based on similar flavors rather than appearance or genealogy.

The pictures are not scaled to any sort of size whatsoever.