Culture / Practice Reading

Oddity: A Cricket With Your Chocolate?

The online French paper 20 minutes just posted an article about the latest culinary novelty: candied insects. Crickets and flour worms, more specifically. It is called entomophagy and it is said to be a solution for world hunger. According to the article, insects are already eaten across the world but their provenance is often unknown. Now you can breathe,  a company in France finally grows the crawling bugs in safe, clean environments,  feeding them organic foods, no less. And when they have sufficiently fattened up, to the chocolate factory they go, where a master chocolate maker produces cricket and worm flavoured bonbons with them. Mmmmm.

Read the full article here. (For advanced intermediates and up)


ses proches: his/her relatives

offrant: offering

un grillon: a cricket

une attention: a nice gesture

gourmand(e): greedy (/tasty)

alliant: allying

un vague goût de… : a slight taste of…

peiner à… : to have a hard time…ing

en appeler à: to appeal to

un ballotin: a small box

élevés: bred

a vu le jour: was born

hébergé(e): put up, hosted

nickel propre: extra clean

dans lequel: in which

grouiller: to swarm about

or: yet, but, now

aucun(e): none

irréprochable: impeccable

conforme à: in accordance with

un tel: such a

parmi: among

en effet: indeed

aliments bio: organic foods

se délecter de: to revel in

régaler: to treat

ébouillanté(e): boiled (to scald)

compter + verb: to count on …ing

une déjection: excretion

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2 thoughts on “Oddity: A Cricket With Your Chocolate?

  1. HI!

    I have a question about one of the phrases in the article. It is in the 10th paragraph: “avant qu’ils ne finissent ébouillantés.” I understand that it means “before they [the insects] are boiled,” but as I read it I find I am curious as to why the “ne” is there. When I use “Google Translate” (which, by the way, leads to some hilarious translations of some of the phrases in this article), it gives me “before they end up scalded” which seems to imply the passive voice. If, on Google, I take out the “ne,” I get “before they finally boiled,” which seems to imply the active voice. I can put a noun, such as “eggs,” into Google with that phrase and get “before they finally boiled eggs.” I understand that “ne” can work alone, as can “pas,” but I always thought it would somehow negate the verb. Wordreference does not help me understand why “ne” would change a verb to passive voice and I can’t find an idiom for “ne finir” meaning “to end up.” Does it have to follow “avant que”? Can you help me understand this usage? Does it happen with other verbs? Or can you refer me to a resource to help me out? Is it just one of those idiomatic “just because it is” things? Have you already dealt with it here and I’ve missed it?

    Thanks so much for all you do. I love this resource and read something from it every day. It’s amazing how much you offer and how often you offer it.


  2. Hi Lorraine,

    Great question!

    Yes, the expression “avant que” requires the “ne” in literary or elevated expression. (
    This “ne” carries no negative value, it is there for style. It can be omitted, but the sentence is then less “refined”.

    In the phrase “avant qu’ils ne finissent ébouillantés”, there is indeed a sense of passive. The insects “end up” boiled or scalded, not what they would have wanted if asked, I’m sure.

    The phrase “avant qu’ils finissent ébouillantés” essentially means the same thing, and with the same helplessness on the insect’s part, except it is a bit more colloquial.

    I think the passive here comes from finir+participle/adjective/noun (to end up…):
    finir ruiné (to end up broke)
    finir saoul (to end up drunk)
    finir criminel (to end up a criminal)

    *If you want to add a verb, as in “to end up… ing”, the structure in French is finir par + infinitive:
    Finir par se marier (to end up getting married)
    finir par trouver la solution (to end up finding the solution)

    Back to our expletive ne:
    For an explanation in English and more “ne” instances:

    Thank you for your appreciation. I’m glad you like this site and that it is of use to you!

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