When I go into Patisserie Valerie for a coffee, I ask the staff for a, “café au lait”. I say that primarily because I want a coffee with milk – a ‘white coffee’ as we’re more accustomed to say in England. I don’t say it because I’m a ponce. And if I wasn’t in a place that styled itself, ‘a patisserie’ (French for Greggs innit), had a logo featuring a can-can dancer, sold croque monsieurs and displayed a bloody great basket of baguettes in the window, I wouldn’t sodding well say it at all. I’m decent enough to indulge their commercial conceit; I’m actually playing along with their, hon’-he-hon’ masquerade…. But having deliberately lured me into their faux Gallic environment with their artful cultural cues, how do their staff habitually greet my request for a, “café au lait”? I’ll tell you. They look at me like I’m fucking mad. Excuse my French.
Then I order a latte.