It is widely acknowledged that the French are not partial to the kind of 'binge drinking' that one sees English town centres reduced to carnage every Friday night.
By and large, they have a much more respectful relationship with alcohol. One might sit in a café and nurse une pression (small beer, akin to a 'swift half') for a good while, instead of necking pint after pint with the sole aim of becoming blind drunk – complètement soûl(e).
What has a pistachio got to do with it?
But that is not to say that the French do not overdo things on occasion – occasion being the operative word.
At weddings, parties and other group get-togethers, the merrymaking might get a little out of hand – and there are some great old-school expressions that one might employ to describe someone's state of insobriety.
‘Ramasser une pistache’ (translated literally as ‘to pick up a pistachio’) is a very evocative phrase to describe having drunk an unreasonable amount.
It refers to the pistachio tree, the resin from which, when mixed with alcohol, would turn a certain shade of green.
By the time absinthe (its vivid green colour resembling the pistachio) became popular in France at the end of the 19th century/early 20th century, overdoing the booze was described as 'picking up a pistachio'.
Load up the mule
Another expression a French person might use is ‘charger la mule’ (literally ‘to overload the mule’).
The poor animal was traditionally over-burdened with heavy loads – and so the drinker is going to be ‘overloaded’, much as we would use the word ‘loaded’.
Finally, ‘se prendre une murge’ or ‘se murger’ (to have yourself a 'Murge') refers to rue Alphonse Murge in Paris (a street no longer in existence) which was lined with wine and spirits sellers.