French Word of the Day: Bordelique

Does the word bordelique have anything to do with the elegant city of Bordeaux?

Le Chef is …. well, you fill in the blank. But today il m’ennuie un peu (I’m finding him annoying).

We were at his kitchen at Baru 66, where we were set to work on another “chef et bonne femme” recipe. I told him that before we got to work, I needed to stir together a little salad I was taking to a local soup kitchen that night.

He directed me to the smallest workspace he had: a 3-foot by 3-foot station. I hardly had enough room for my ingredients, let alone a mixing bowl. I wanted to spread out. And really—it was about 3 hours before his crew was due to arrive to set up for the night. So what was the problem?

He answered, “Tu es bordelique.

Bordelique? That was a word that I had not yet come across. I wanted to think it had to do with Bordelaise—a word that refers to anything that comes from the elegant city of Bordeaux.


Well, no. Actually, the word bordelique is actually derived from the word bordello.


Photo by Madolan via Flickr.

Seriously? Was he calling me a putain?

Well, no, he explained. While the word bordelique is related to the word bordello, there’s no sexual connotation to the word bordelique.

After a little back-and-forth, we decided that what he was trying to say was that I was messy. I suppose that bordellos and messiness do have a commonality….

To add insult to injury, he added, “Toutes les bonnes femmes sont bordeliques. “All bonnes femmes are messy.” Ouch.

He went on to explain that he gives his messiest prep cooks the least amount of space to work in. The less room you have, the less messy you can possibly be.

Question of the day: How is it that the French get to say these things and somehow, we don’t have the urge to flatten them with the nearest meat pounder?



David Baruthio in his kitchen, which is anything but bordelique.





Print Friendly

8 comments to French Word of the Day: Bordelique

  • Linda

    Sounds a little like you DO want to pound him, just un peu. Are you familiar with the expression “quelle bordelle”? It means “what a mess” and has the same derivation as “bordelique”. Although this is the first time I’ve heard the adjective. Has he seen your kitchen??

    – Linda

  • Wini

    Yes, just un peu, Linda! And yes, “quelle bordelle” is a great expression!

    Yes, he has seen my kitchen. And I might add, he ate THREE HELPINGS of my Blanquette de Porc from my “cuisine bordelique!”

  • Greg

    just tell him if he is nice… you’ll let him borrow your apron 🙂

  • Rosemary McCaffrey

    Last night I made the Bottom Round Roast with French Onion Gravy. I have to tell you it was delicious! Thanks!

  • Wini

    I’m so glad, Rosemary! And the leftovers (if there are any) are great–as I mentioned, I like to grind the meat and add mayo and pickles for a beef salad sandwich….Oh, I’m sitting at my desk dreaming of this now…..

  • Babette

    Love this blog post! I remember when I worked for a big accounting firm in Paris years ago and one of my colleagues and I walked into one of the auditor’s offices which was very messy and he said “quelle bordelle.” I always thought that was kind of a gross expression. But, I found out the the expression my late French father used to use “quelle sale a prit” is not spoken by anyone and I wonder if it is even real French.

    • Wini

      I got to admit, I don’t know what “quelle sale a prit” would really mean…..Something like “what filth took place here?”


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




eight + = 11