En faire tout un fromage: A French expression you may hear today

After four months in space French astronaut Thomas Pesquet said a recent delivery of cheese would boost morale, but he does not ‘faire tout un fromage’ about being so far from home. What does the expression mean?

23 August 2021

Learn French words and expressions you may hear in the news today Pic: The Connexion

Literally, the expression faire tout un fromage means to make a whole cheese of something.

What does that have to do with Mr Pesquet’s six-month mission to the International Space Station?

On August 21, Commander Tomas Pesquet and his team of three other astronauts got a special delivery from NASA, including a surprise cold bag full of cheese.

On receiving the package, Mr Pesquet wrote on Instagram: “Way to make a Frenchman happy! Thank you to NASA who take such good care of us.” 

He added that the package would boost morale, but otherwise the French commander seems content with his mission - he does not faire tout un fromage of being so far away from home.

This expression, dating from the last century, refers to the laborious process of making milk into cheese, in other words turning something very simple into something more complex. 

In common usage, it has come to mean to overreact to something, to make a big deal out of something or to make a mountain out of a molehill. In some contexts it could also be translated by a similarly culinary English-language expression  – to make a meal out of something. 

But while some people font tout un fromage of circumstances by taking a small problem and turning it into a larger one, Mr Pesquet and his long term partner Anne Mottet seem to take a more relaxed approach.

Posting on Instagram in April, the day Mr Pesquet departed for his six-month mission, Ms Mollet joked that she had already replaced her husband with “flat Thomas” – a cardboard cut-out of the astronaut.

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