MONTREAL – If a certain British restaurant in Côte-des-Neiges wants to serve fish and chips, it had better call it something else, according to the Office Quebecoise de la langue francaise (OQLF).
“Poisson frit et frites is what they asked us to change it to,” said Toby Lyle, co-owner of Brit & Chips. “Doing a quick search online, that doesn’t seem to exist in any popular culture.”
“We are essentially a specialty food restaurant, we serve only fish and chips pretty much, so if we’re unable to advertise our product we’d be unable to sell it,” he said.
The OQLF later admitted that it made a mistake in telling the restaurant to change a window sign advertising its primary fare.
“For exotic names, for specialty dishes, those names can stay in the language of origin,” said Martin Bergeron, an OQLF spokesperson.
“You have areas where it’s black or it’s white, you have situations where it’s an infraction or it’s not. But there’s a lot of grey in between, and sometimes different shades of grey makes it difficult.”
This sort of thing has made the headlines a lot recently. Massimo Lecas, who owns the Buona Notte Italian restaurant, told Global Montreal he was shocked when the OQLF told him to change the word “pasta” on the menu.
“Do we really need this when we have all the problems that we have?” he said on the Global Montreal Morning News.
English-rights groups are also outraged at what appears to be a rash of enforcement by the OQLF under a PQ government.
“The vulnerability of French in Quebec is not tied to whether calamari or fish and chips is on a menu,” said Sylvia Martin-LaForge, of the Quebec Community Groups Network.
Here’s a look at what Montrealers had to say about what’s been dubbed the “Pastagate.”