How to Use "Chou" in French Conversation

Purple Cabbage and Mandarin Salad
© Miri Rotkovitz

If you're talking about cabbage in French, then you're going to need to know how to use the word chou. Pronounced "shoo," the word chou can be used to describe a cabbage or as a term of endearment akin to "darling" or "dear."

Using Chou in Conversation

As a vegetable, chou can be served grated raw in a salad, boiled then creamed with bacon bits, stuffed with milk-soaked bread, sausage, eggs, vegetables, and herbs or baked in a cabbage galette with herbs and lardons (hearty French smoked bacon).

But, really, the options are only limited by the culinary imagination of France's talented regional and restaurant cooks.

The use as a term of endearment may derive from the pretty, frilly, green, slightly delicate Savoy cabbage that the French have a certain affection for.

  • On va manger du chou. > We're going to eat some cabbage.
  • Salade de chou rouge est un excellent example de la cuisine minceur de Michel Guérard. > Red cabbage salad is an excellent example of [chef] Michel Guérard's slimming cuisine.
  • Ça va mon [petit] chou? > How are you, my darling (my sweet)?

Related Words

There are a number of related words with chou as their root, for example:

  • un chouchou > darling, pet 
  • chouchouter (informal) > to pamper, coddle 
  • la choucroute > sauerkraut (brine-marinated cabbage)
  • les choux de Bruxelles > Brussels sprouts

These root words also wind up in some common French expressions, such as:

  • être dans les choux (informel) > to be screwed up, lost, in trouble 
  • faire chou blanc > to draw a blank, to lead nowhere
  • C'est chou vert et vert chou. > It's green cabbage and cabbage green. [meaning, roughly: It's the same either way.]

Additional Resources

As you expand your vocabulary, you'll want to learn more ways to talk about food with your loved ones.

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ThoughtCo. "How to Use "Chou" in French Conversation." ThoughtCo, Apr. 23, 2018, thoughtco.com/le-chou-vocabulary-1371740. ThoughtCo. (2018, April 23). How to Use "Chou" in French Conversation. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/le-chou-vocabulary-1371740 ThoughtCo. "How to Use "Chou" in French Conversation." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/le-chou-vocabulary-1371740 (accessed May 27, 2018).