Nicknames: 'Frogs' for French people, 'Roastbeefs' for English people.
Nicknames 'Frogs' for French people and 'Roastbeefs' for English people: where does it come from? Here are different interesting explanations...
Where does it come from?
The original explanation of the French term rosbif is that it referred to the English tradition of cooking roast beef, and especially to the song 'The Roast Beef of Old England'.
Roast beef is a dish of beef which is roasted. Essentially prepared as a main meal, the leftovers are often used in sandwiches and sometimes are used to make hash. In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, roast beef is one of the meats traditionally served at Sunday dinner, although it is also often served as a cold cut in delicatessen stores, usually in sandwiches. A traditional side dish to roast beef is Yorkshire pudding.
Roast beef is a signature national dish of England and holds cultural meaning for the English dating back to the 1731 ballad "The Roast Beef of Old England". The dish is so synonymous with England and its cooking methods from the 18th century that the French nickname for the English is "les Rosbifs".
'The Roast Beef of Old England' is an English patriotic ballad. It was written by Henry Fielding for his play The Grub-Street Opera, which was first performed in 1731. The lyrics were added to over the next twenty years. The song increased in popularity when given a new setting by the composer Richard Leveridge, and it became customary for theatre audiences to sing it before, after, and occasionally during, any new play. The Royal Navy always goes in to dine at Mess Dinners to the tune, which is also played at United States Marine Corps formal mess dinners during the presentation of the beef. Officers of the Royal Artillery are also played in to dinner by this tune. The song provided the popular title for a 1748 painting by William Hogarth: O the Roast Beef of Old England (The Gate of Calais). (Thanks to Wikipédia)
Where does it come from?
A story relates to Queen Elizabeth I, (1533 to 1603) who was extremely fond of dancing. At the time dances involved quite a lot of leaping up. There was a young man in the French ambassadorial staff at the court who excelled at these leaps and the queen called him 'My little frog'. English courtiers were envious and started using the term as a deprecatory term for all French men. She though would frequently apply the word affectionately to her close friends. She often referred to at least one of her very close friends as 'my dear frog', and at one point this gentleman was her representative in France. Also, for a brief time she was about-to-be-engaged to the youngest son of Henri II, the Duke of Anjou. He was 24 and Elizabeth was 46. Despite the age gap, the two soon became very close, Elizabeth dubbing him her “frog”. A few believe this nickname was attributed to a frog-shaped earring he had given her. Of course, that union came to naught since Elizabeth never did marry. Another possible origin is that the term Frogs was used to describe the people of Paris by courtiers at the Place of Versailles. In the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable of 1898 by E. Cobham Brewer he quotes the phrase “Qu’en disent les grenouilles?”—What will the frogs (people of Paris) say?—this was in use in 1791 and was a common court phrase at Versailles. At the time the area where Paris is now located was known as Lutetia which means Mud-land and it was surrounded by swamps. So the occupants lived like Frogs and toads in the swamp. The French nobility that would visit Versailles apparently tended to refer to Parisians as frogs because of the swampy surroundings…and only later did the term get picked up to describe the French in general. As a possible counter attack by the Parisians they coined the word frog as a putdown for non-Parisians. The sophisticated urbanites sneered at the rural taste for amphibians and attached the term to everybody but themselves, which is to say the bulk of the national population.