Two things should be understood:

1) One of the first — and most important — things a young lad needs to learn when traveling in a foreign land is how to order a beer in the native tongue. Such knowledge will get him started on the road to enjoying his travels. (Knowing “Bitte ein Bier” helped me get started when stationed in Germany long ago.)


2) The French have an annoyingly difficult time understanding any mispronunciation of their language. In English, if a foreigner says poTAYto or poTAHto, Americans will generally get the spuds to the visitor. Not so in France. If you happen to say pAHmme instead of pOHmme, the waiter is going to look at you like you’re speaking Swahili.

The other day in Saint-Michel, Alec tried to order a beer. The waitress said “en can” and listed several brands with which we were familiar. Alec knew he preferred “bière pression” or draft beer so we asked “Quel type de bière pression? “En can” she said and repeated her spiel. No. “Pression”. “En can” she repeated. Trying our best to pronounce “Pression” correctly she again responded it was en can. Finally, giving up with a shrug of our shoulders we said to go ahead and bring it. She did. She returned with a lovely, draft pulled hEiNeKEN.

We felt like we’d just played the French version of “Who’s on First?”

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