Previous month:
October 2004
Next month:
December 2004

Entries from November 2004

la guerre

November 11th: Armistice Day. The French are celebrating the end of World War I and enjoying a day off from work. Normally, le travail* resumes Friday, but many people are doing "le pont" (faire le pont) or "making the bridge" (taking tomorrow off, to make a long weekend). The next word goes out Monday. See you then!  * le travail (m) = work

la guerre (gair) noun, feminine
  1. war, warfare

Also:
la guerre classique = conventional warfare
la guerre chaude, froide = hot, cold war
la guerre sur terre = land warfare
la guerre atomique = atomic warfare
la guerre planétaire = global warfare
la guerre de rues = street fighting

..............
Expressions
de bonne guerre
= legitimately
nom de guerre = a pseudonym
le nerf de la guerre (the nerve of war) = money
de guerre lasse = for the sake of peace and quiet
être sur le sentier de la guerre = to prepare for combat
faire la guerre à quelqu'un = to criticize someone
à la guerre comme à la guerre = to take the rough with the smooth
partir en guerre contre quelque chose = to go to war for something
s'en tirer avec les honneurs de la guerre = to receive an honorable discharge

......................................
Proverb
Qui terre a guerre a.
He who has land, has war.

....................................
Citation du Jour
La guerre, un massacre de gens qui ne se connaissent pas, au profit de gens qui se connaissent mais ne se massacrent pas.

War, a massacre of people who do not know each other, to the profit of people who know each other but do not massacre each other
.
--Paul Valéry

.........................
Dernier mot:
Mieux vaut en paix un oeuf qu'en guerre un boeuf.
Better an egg in peace than an ox in war

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


Cream of Chestnut soup

A surprise for you in today's column: une recette! Today's recipe couldn't have come at a better time as our family, along with a circle of French friends, will celebrate Thanksgiving here on the 20th (I know, early) and I have been looking for a light first course to serve.

I used to think soup was as easy to understand as, well, French. It was one of those things that you bought in a can, began with "Cream of" and, if you were lucky, had little floating letters inside. I never knew of anyone who actually made soup. Perhaps that is because I come from the Valley of the Sun, where we eat less soup and more chilled guacamole. And then, about 10 years ago, on a chilly evening in Provence, my friend Corey "the antiques guru" set me straight.

"Nothing to it!" she said, as she ladled out velvety soupe au potiron from one of her charming French soup terrines. I picked my jaw up from the floor before rolling up two sleeves: it was high time to learn to cook. One hundred or so homemade soups later, and I can say: je parle bien le français!

la châtaigne (sha-tehn, or sha-teh-ny) noun, feminine
1. chestnut
2. punch (of the hand)
3. shock (electric)

...une châtaigne is also called "un marron" (ma-rohn) = "chestnut" and "brown".

Also:
une châtaigne d'eau = water chestnut
une châtaigne de mer (un oursin) = a sea urchin

.................
Expressions:
flanquer une châtaigne = "to land a chestnut" = to punch someone               tirer les châtaignes du feu (avec la patte du chat) = to pull the chestnuts from the fire with the cat's paw = to knock oneself out for someone else's benefit; to make someone else do a perilous task

..................................................
Citation du Jour
Châtaigne: femelle du marron.
The sweet chestnut: female of the chestnut
. --Gustave Flaubert

The following column is in English and French.

...........................................
Around our table, in France
by Barbara Barles

A few of you have asked that I share recipes, and so Kristi and I have decided that the subject of today's edition would be culinary!

I offer you a seasonal recipe, one that I got from my Mom, (the same goes for most of my recipes!) which makes a delicious first course or a main course for a light dinner.

......................................
Cream of Chestnut Soup

The quantity of ingredients will depend (obviously) on the number of people you are preparing this soup for. As for me, when I prepare this recipe, I use a big cooking pot, which permits me to serve it as a first course for around 8 people.

Prepare a vegetable broth by boiling a large quantity of water to which you will add carrots, celery, leeks, turnips, salt and pepper. Cook the chestnuts in this broth and add a cube of chicken broth.

Canned chestnuts will work fine! Plan on two or three big cans of chestnuts, depending on the quantity of broth. Let simmer until the vegetables are well cooked, then put the mixture through a vegetable mill or use an electric mixer. Add sour cream and mix. Just before serving, add sliced chestnuts and a bit of chervil on top.

Enjoy your meal!

....................................
Barbara Barles is a legal expert based in Toulon, France. She enjoys trying out new recipes on friends and the pleasing "qualité de vie" in her native Provence.

..........................................
Today's Column (in French)

Certains d'entre vous ayant souhaité que je leur communique des recettes, Kristi et moi avons décidé que le sujet de la rubrique "French word a day" serait aujourd'hui culinaire !

Je vous propose donc une recette de saison, que je tiens de ma Maman, (comme la plupart de mes recettes d'ailleurs!), qui constituera une délicieuse entrée ou un plat unique pour un dîner léger par exemple.

Velouté de chataîgnes

La quantité d'ingrédients dépendra (évidemment) du nombre de personnes pour lequel vous préparerez ce velouté. En ce qui me concerne, lorsque je cuisine cette recette, je prévois une grande marmite, ce qui me permets de la servir en entrée, à une huitaine d'invités.

Préparez un bouillon de légumes en faisant bouillir une grande quantité d'eau dans laquelle vous aurez émincé carottes, céleri, poireaux, navets, le tout assaisonné de sel et de poivre. Faire cuire dans ce bouillon, auquel vous ajouterez un bouillon de volaille, des chataîgnes.

Des chataîgnes en boîte feront tout à fait l'affaire ! Deux ou trois grosses boîtes sont à prévoir, en fonction de la quantité de bouillon. Laissez cuire à couvert jusqu'à ce que les legumes soient bien cuits, puis passez le tout au moulin à légumes (grille fine), ou au robot électrique. Ajoutez-y de la crème fraîche et mélangez le tout . Au moment de servir, incorporez dans le velouté des chataîgnes émincées et du cerfeuil.

Bon appétit !!!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


imprimerie

imprimerie (an-pree-mree) noun, feminine
  1.  printing works, printing house, printery
  2.  printing

Also:
écrire en caractères/lettres d'imprimerie = to write in block capitals

L'invention de l'imprimerie est le plus grand événement de l'histoire. / The invention of printing is the biggest event in history. --Victor Hugo

A Day in a French Life...
On Sunday morning, my 8-year-old son Max and I were the first to wake. Normally, Max watches les dessins animés,* but today he followed me to my bureau.*

In the space of five minutes, sitting there in mismatched pyjamas and chattering all the while, he'd covered "le changement d'heure" (we just advanced the clock one hour here in France) the weather, basketball... On he went, un vrai bavard!

When I finally got the chatterbox to silence, he went about arranging my work space. Soon photos of him decorated my desk, with two great framed images blocking my imprimante.*

"T'as vu, maman?" I turned to look at the mantelpiece, which held more snapshots of a smiling 8-year-old. He'd taken care to dust off an old photo of his sister and display it as well (in the background).

"Come on, Max, leave the photos alone."
"D'accord, je voulais juste te faire plaisir..." (OK, he only wanted to please me...)

Next, my son set about trying to find markets for my new book:

"What about Angleterre?"* he began.
"Or...my school!  The 3rd and 4th-graders can read... Oh, and les collégiens!* they could buy a book..."

He pondered a few more markets before deciding to laisser tomber* and instead count the dictionaries piled around the computer screen, trailing to the floor:

"Vingt-six. Eh ben!"* he said, nodding his head and lifting two brows.

"Why do you have all those books?" Max continued, pointing to the shelves this time. "Is it to understand how to make a book, when you are a débutante?"*

Just leave it to your kid to put straight any grandiose ideas you might have about yourself as a writer...

................................................................................................................
*References: les dessins animés (mpl) = cartoons; le bureau (m) = office; l'imprimante (f) = the printer; l'Angleterre (f) = England; un collégien (m), une collégienne (f) = a junior high student; laisser tomber = drop it; eh ben (that's ben, not "bien") (slang) = well! (what do you know...); vingt-six = twenty-six;  un débutant (m), une débutante (f)= a beginner, a novice

Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions lists approximately 4,500 common slang words and colloquial expressions. Entries include grammatical information, the definition in English, a sentence or phrase to illustrate usage, and an English translation of the example and, where applicable, a corresponding English slang expression. Each entry also identifies the word or phrase by type: student or youth slang, political slang, literary slang, and criminal and drug-related slang.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


feuilleter

From a word we had just a few weeks back (une feuille) comes today's verb "feuilleter." A word close to any reader's heart. For those of you who enjoy "flipping through" books or magazines, I want to share some news that has me slightly "flipping" out. (As in, dancing atop all 26 dictionaries, singing "C'est prêt! It's ready!")

Drumroll...

New! from Four Frogs Press: "Words in a French Life, Volume II"

The new collection of words and stories (from the daily letters sent out last spring) will go to the printers tonight! This second volume is positively infused with French idiomatic expressions, thoughtful French quotes and more. The individual stories are vocabulary-packed and I have taken care to tuck in even more French expressions, to make this edition the best value so far.

feuilleter (fuhy-tay) verb
1. to leaf through (a book)
2. to roll and fold dough
3. to laminate glass

...........................
Citation du Jour:
Il faut feuilleter tous les livres et n'en lire qu'un ou deux.
You must leaf through many books and only read one or two.
--Jules Renard

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


un klaxon

un klaxon (klak-sohn) noun, masculine
  1. a horn

And the verb klaxonner (klak-soh-nay) = to hoot or sound one's horn, to honk

Expression:
klaxonner quelqu'un = to hoot at someone; to give somebody a hoot

Citation du Jour
La plupart des automobiles du monde marchent à l'essence. Les autos françaises marchent au klaxon. Surtout quand elles sont arrêtées.

Most of the automobiles in this world run on gasoline. The French autos run on horns. Especially when they're stopped. --Pierre Daninos

A Day in a French Life...
by Kristin Espinasse

If you want to buy or sell a car in France, a good place to start is with a free publication called "l'Argus". Most people start there. Most.

I woke up Wednesday morning to find a sign taped to the back window of my car. It reads:

             A VENDRE
année 2001 - 1ère main - 35 000 kms
            toutes options
Clim / VE / Airbags / ABS / Radio / CD
            3,900 Euros

My husband must have been busy during the night. Busy taping a notice to the inside rear window of my bagnole.* I knew he was considering selling my car. Just not this soon. Not in this way.

Re-reading the sign, I'm surprised he didn't add, "woman driver, gearshift grinder, (who) occasionally backs into lampposts." That's just how exposed I feel, driving around with a "for sale" sign glaring from the back window.

In Greek mythology, Argus is a giant with one hundred eyes. A clever name for an auto trader publication whose marketing approach must be, "All eyes on your car when you advertise with us."  But when your car isn't listed there, and you drive around with a rainbow-colored sign scotched to the back window (thanks to gigantic strips of packing tape) the effect is the same, just a bit more disconcerting.

I'm learning that there's a little bit of Argus in each villager. Tape a sign on something, and the collective village eyes are redirected. The collective village lips begin to flap. To "faire parler les gens" or give the people something to talk about, all you need is a roll of 4-inch wide duct tape and a colorful message. No use being discreet when you're trying to sell something.

I hope the car will sell, and illico!* or I just might turn into a one hundred-eyed monster and scotch tape my husband's mouth shut while I slowly enunciate each and every word from each and every story in "A Day in a French Life". That ought to make him think twice about peddling my bagnole.*


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
à vendre = for sale; l'année (f) = year; la première main (f) = first hand; la clim (la climatisation) = air-conditioning; VE (vitres électriques) = electric windows; une bagnole (f) = car; illico = pronto

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


mordre

Today's column is in French and English and is written by Barbara (who tells me, regarding yesterday's story, that the French do have an equivalent expression for "bird bath".... "Une toilette de chat"--"a cat's lick" means to: "se laver d'une façon succinte, au lavabo par exemple," or to wash oneself hastily, at the sink, for example.)

mordre (mohr-druh) verb
1. to bite


Expressions:
se mordre les lèvres = to bite one's lips
mordre la poussière = to bite the dust
mordre à l'appât = to swallow the bait, to be duped
ne savoir y mordre = "to not know where to bite" to not know where to
begin (to understand something)
mordre à quelque chose = to take to something (to warm to a subject)
se mordre la langue d'avoir parlé = to bite one's tongue for having spoken (to regret)

..........................
Citation du Jour

Les hommes, c'est comme les chiens, ça mord parce que ça a peur.
Men are like dogs. They bite because they are afraid.
--Jean Anouilh

...........................................................
A Closer Look at French Expressions
by Barbara Barles

Bonjour à tous,

Je vous propose de découvrir la 2ème partie des expressions anatomiques françaises. Cette liste n'est pas exhaustive, mais vous permettra déjà d'être calés sur la question !

..........................
Hello everyone,

I invite you to discover part two of expressions having to do with the human body. This list is not exhaustive, but will help you to understand the subject better.

- Avoir deux mains gauches:
"To have two left hands"
= être maladroit (to be clumsy)

- Avoir les dents longues:
"To have long teeth"
= avoir de l'ambition, être prêt à tout pour réussir (to be ambitious, to do anything to succeed)

- Tourner de l'oeil:
"To turn the eye"
= s'évanouir (to pass out)

- S'en mordre les doigts:
"To bite the fingers"
= regretter d'avoir fait ou dit quelque chose (to regret to have done or to have said something)

- Avoir les deux pieds dans le même sabot:
"To have two feet in the same clog"
= être empoté, ne pas se remuer (to be clumsy, to not be able to get a move on things)

- Tourner sa langue sept fois dans sa bouche avant de parler:
"To turn one's tongue seven times in one's mouth before speaking"
= bien réfléchir avant de dire quelque chose (to think twice before saying something)

- Avoir les oreilles qui sifflent:
"To have ears that whistle"
en français, lorsque l'on parle de quelqu'un, on dit qu'il doit avoir les oreilles qui sifflent.
(In French, when we talk about someone, we say that his ears must be whistling.)

- Avoir l'estomac dans les talons:
"To have the stomach in the heels"
= être affamé (to be hungry).

- Taper dans l'oeil:
"To hit the eye"
= Plaire (to be pleasing to the eye).

- Se mettre le doigt dans l'oeil:
"To put the finger in the eye"
= se tromper (to be mistaken)

- Mettre l'eau à la bouche:
"To put water to the mouth"
= donner envie (to make you thirsty for something)

- Ne pas avoir froid aux yeux:
"To not have cold eyes"
= être intrépide, culotté (to be bold, to have nerve)

.........................................
Barbara Barles is a legal expert based in Toulon, France. She enjoys trying out new recipes on friends and the pleasing "qualité de vie" in her native Provence.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


la douche

Cabanon = cottage (c) Kristin Espinasse une douche (doosh) noun, feminine
1. a shower

Also:
les douches = shower room(s)

..............................
Expressions:

une douche froide = a letdown, a terrible disappointment
prendre une douche = to take a shower
passer à la douche = to go for a shower
prendre une bonne douche = to get soaked
une douche écossaise = an alternately hot and cold shower

...........................
Citation du Jour:

Une bonne colère vaut mieux qu'une bonne douche. La douche fatigue, la colère apaise...
A good fit is better than a good shower. The shower relaxes, the fit relieves.
--Henri Jeanson

.......................................
A Day in a French Life...

(The story that originally appeared here, with the French vocabulary below, is now a part of this book.)

....................
*References: un pointu (m) = small fishing boat; un après-midi (m) = an afternoon; un oursin (m) = a sea urchin; le monde (m) = the world; le cabanon (m) = cottage ; la porte (f) door; la belle-mère (f) = mother-in-law; le déjeuner (m) = lunch; le supion (m) = calamari; le loup (m) = sea bass; un bain d'oiseau = a bird bath; réfléchir = to think, to reflect; un pichet (m) = a jug; que dal (or que dalle)= rien du tout = nothing at all; une mauvaise réputation (f) = a bad reputation; rouge-tomate = tomato red; Lyonnais(e) = someone from Lyon; rigoler = to laugh, to joke (about); elle est Lyonnaise = she is from Lyon

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California


un oiseau

un oiseau (wah-zo) noun, masculine
1. a bird
2. a character (informal)

Also:
un oiseau chanteur = a songbird
un oiseau moqueur = a mocking bird
un oiseau de paradis = a bird of paradise
un oiseau de proie = a bird of prey
un oiseau mouche (un colibris) = a hummingbird

..........................
Expressions

un vilain oiseau = an unpleasant person
un drôle d'oiseau = a strange person, an oddball
l'oiseau s'est envolé = the bird's flown (there's nobody there)
c'est l'oiseau rare = she/he's a rare bird
avoir une cervelle d'oiseau = to be bird-brained, scatterbrained
avoir un appétit d'oiseau = to have a bird's appetite; a very small appetite
donner à quelqu'un des noms d'oiseau = to insult someone
"petit à petit l'oiseau fait son nid" = "little by little the bird makes its nest" (success comes with work and perseverance)
être comme l'oiseau sur la branche = to be here today and gone tomorrow

..............................................
French Proverb

La belle cage ne nourrit pas l'oiseau.
A beautiful cage does not feed the bird.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"Your blog has added much richness to my days for many years. High time to acknowledge your generosity toward your readers, by offering some small support."
--Candy T., California