Arrête la tutute!

Rose-Baby-Shower-sucette-boisson-Tags-Charms-verre-à-vin-marqueurs-Wedding-Party-décorations-couleurs-personnalisées.jpg_640x640In familiar French ‘la tutute’ means a baby’s pacifier – a dummy or soother for you Brits – also known as a tétine, sucette or tototte. In the parlance of my belle-famille, however, it was always used as a snide reference to drinking.

“Arrête la tutute!” my beau-père said with a laugh one day when he saw me with a beer. There is something oddly shocking in France about women drinking beer so perhaps it was only half in jest. I had heard this term used before, always with the gesture of thumb towards mouth, implying excessive consumption of spirits.

Usually ‘la tutute’ is used to jokingly describe a family member who over imbibes at parties. (“Il y va la tutute!”) We all have one in the family. In our case it was my late aunt, who famously was in her cups at our wedding in Paris. Husband’s family also had a few members who tended to over-indulge. As much as drinking is part of the culture in France, and wine is de rigueur at any social event, it is badly viewed when consumed in excess. It is not done to get visibly drunk or even tipsy, unless perhaps on New Year’s eve.

I suppose the connection with the pacifier is apt. Drinking soothes the soul and pacifies nerves in most social situations. Freeing us from our inhibitions to let loose and have fun.

The secret, as with most things we enjoy, is moderation. How much is too much? And why can’t we all have an alarm bell in our brains to tell us when we are one drink over the line?

I enjoy drinking and it is not easy for me to imagine a nice meal without at least a glass of wine. But when the NHS recently announced its updated guidelines for alcohol consumption, I decided it was time to moderate my consumption. That did not mean an entirely dry January or anything quite so radical. But I am keeping a closer eye on the units – recommended to be no more than 14 per week for both women and men – and trying to enjoy a few days a week with nothing more dizzying than sparkling water.

How about you?


  1. Suzy Barker · February 25, 2016

    I would agree that it’s not easy to completely refrain; better to monitor the units I think. Gave up alcohol last year for Lent, just to see if I could. Lasted till Christmas! So abstinence can be achieved. There are some lovely substitutes available now in the shops.

    • MELewis · February 25, 2016

      Definitely easier for me to monitor than go teetotal – husband does it readily but when he does drink, has difficulty curbing the units. Good on you for going such a long dry spell! I’ve never made it beyond 2 weeks (kicking and screaming… 😉

  2. poshbirdy · February 25, 2016

    We did the whole of October and it was so easy not to drink after the first day or two. But we enjoy a glass or two most evenings and I would hate to give up so moderation is definitely the key word for us

    • MELewis · February 25, 2016

      You are a stronger woman than I am, Posh. Those were twelve of the longest days of my life… 🙂

  3. Food,Photography & France · February 25, 2016

    Me too…:)

    • MELewis · February 25, 2016

      My new motto is drinking less, enjoying every last drop.

  4. coteetcampagne · February 25, 2016

    Well, I drink ( mainly wine) but only three nights a week now. Due to after effects of a “neglectful” youth, I cut my wine with water anyway; though if it’s a stunner, will have a “neat” first glass!. Some French ( & British)find this odd, some thinks its very sensible.
    The net result of this is that people who don’t know me well think I am drinking wine by the half pint !

    • MELewis · February 25, 2016

      I’m sure it is sensible as it increases your water consumption. Sadly the only thing I cut is white wine for the occasional spritzer. But oddly enough, I find that when the wine is very good, I am satisfied with less.

  5. coteetcampagne · February 25, 2016

    PS .. Have managed to talk Trev into cutting with water now, at least if we have wine at lunchtime if we are in France

    • MELewis · February 25, 2016

      Good going! I love a glass or two at lunch on the weekends at least… 😉

  6. Andrea · February 25, 2016

    I love to hear about these colloquialisms.
    I gave up drinking last year between 2nd July and Christmas Eve. It was the night before we went to meet our little girl for the first time – we’re adoptive parents – and she had had health scares previously and I didn’t want to risk it.
    It gets easier as you go on. Now I’m off it again for lent. I’m looking forward to a sneaky glass of champagne on Easter Sunday. Especially as I heard the news today that the hearing for our final court order goes through just before the Easter weekend. Please God it goes through – the I really will have lots to celebrate 🙏🏻😀.

    • MELewis · February 27, 2016

      That’s wonderful! I do hope your little girl is happy and healthy now and that you have reason to celebrate at Easter. 🙂

  7. Colin Bisset · February 25, 2016

    Typically French to use such cute words! This year I started a one-night-on, one-night-off regime as I was falling into a daily habit. It works a treat, and a few times I’ve been tempted to do a two-nights-off. But you’re right about the quality – a glass of good wine is much more satisfying than half a bottle of the bad!

    • MELewis · February 27, 2016

      Yes, they have all kinds of cute terms for the oddest things – along with big, technical words for simple ones (like ‘pédagogie’ for teaching methods). I like your on-off approach but am not sure I could handle being ‘off’ even for a day during the weekend. The main thing is staying on top of it. Whatever works! 😉

  8. davidprosser · February 26, 2016

    I’m safe having given up alcohol years ago. I wish I found giving up my cigarettes half as easy.
    xxx Massive Hugs Mel xxx

    • MELewis · February 27, 2016

      Afraid I can be of no help there. Having giving up both, I can only agree that the ciggies are the toughest! Courage 😉 xo

  9. Lisa @ cheergerm · February 26, 2016

    Ha, great saying! We try not to drink Monday to Wednesday and our resolve is certainly gone by Thursday. We love wine and generally drink decent stuff, I find it very hard to have just one though. Wish I could!!

    • MELewis · February 27, 2016

      Your efforts sound pretty much like my approach. Only problem is that by Thursday I’m gasping and inclined to make up for lost time! I would also love to be that person who slowly sips on one glass but that’s not going to happen. Best to keep a large bottle of water on hand to stay hydrated!

  10. George Lewis · February 26, 2016

    Really helps to lose weight

    • MELewis · February 27, 2016

      Only if you don’t compensate for the lack of booze with added sweets. 😉

  11. Osyth · February 26, 2016

    Moderation in all things works for me …. that’s the theory anyway 🙂

    • MELewis · February 27, 2016

      I’m with you most of the time, Osyth. But as my Dad always says: “Moderation in all things, including moderation.”

      • Osyth · February 27, 2016

        I’m stealing that 😀

  12. zipfslaw1 · February 26, 2016

    Thanks for the cool vocabulary!

  13. BigLizzy · March 1, 2016

    Great post, mon ami! I drink just two beers (or two glasses of strong red wine) per week because alcohol is such a huge calorie bomb. I miss drinking a nice glass of red table wine every night with dinner, but it’s just not worth all the extra time I have to spend on the treadmill to undo the damage. *Sigh* But, ohhh how I miss it. 🙂

    • MELewis · March 1, 2016

      Chère Lizzy, nice to hear from you! Oh, I am glad to hear you are still able to indulge in a bit of a tipple, even if just twice a week. If only I could limit myself to two beers, I would probably slim down in no time. But no wine? Oddly, it has the reverse effect on me: I head straight for the cookie jar or grab a nice, deep, dark chocolate mousse at the supermarket to reward myself for not drinking. I guess in the end it’s whatever works for each of us. The important thing to me is to just enjoy what I do consume, which is often easier said than done. 😉 Hope all is well in your big, beautiful world, Madame! xo

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