Friday, June 23, 2006

The World Cup Makes Me Hungry

I've been following the World Cup on television during the mornings, and I've found that I get hungry for lunch earlier than I used to. I've decided that my desire to eat lunch at 10:30 must be due to a fairly quirky phrase that the announcers use. In addition to misconjugating verbs following team names (e.g. "Germany have to score now" instead of "Germany has to score now"), the announcers refer to the various free kicks, corner kicks, and penalty kicks as "set pieces." The idea is that the ball is at rest, and the offense is allowed to develop something like a "play" to try to score.

I suppose it's a fine phrase, but those familiar with gastronomic history know that "set pieces" are actually the English translation of the French "piéces montees." Piéces montees were elaborate confections created by pastry chefs to rest in the middle of medieval and early modern feasts. They were inedible and often included moving parts, firecrackers, and live animals. See the lovely movie Vatel for recreations. So now, everytime I listen to soccer I imagine myself carried back to a world of non-stop feasting. It's especially bad when I'm watching Les Bleus.

P.S. To any readers whose French is better than mine, I'd love to know if Le Monde, etc. refer to corner, penalty, free kicks as "piéces montees."

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