Because to children, life itself is a festin... My son, Max, jumping off the water tank near our home.
le festin (feh-stehn --silent "n") noun, masculine
1. feast, banquet
French synonyms for festin: agape, bombance, ripaille, beuverie, gueuleton
Hear the word festin pronounced: Download festin.wav
Citation du Jour:
Petite chère et grand accueil font joyeux festin.Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast. --William Shakespeare
A Day in a French Life...
At a Chinese restaurant in the southern French town of Draguignan Jean-Marc, Max, Jackie and I gladly swap dragonflies for dragons. (While our dishes at home have a meek libellule* motif, at the sweet and spicy Festin de Chine, or "China Banquet," the assiettes* have fire-breathing monsters!)
You might say this Chinese restaurant in the neighboring French town sports an Italian name--for part of its appellation (the Festin part) comes from the Italian word "festino." Inside the bilingual menu, no Italian words are found, but there are French words and a few misspelled English words.
We are feasting at le Festin on riz cantonnais,* crevettes* with ginger and canard fumé* but what we are really here for is the Vietnamese rolls. "Les nems" as they are called--those addictive, deep-fried rolls stuffed with rice, julienned vegetables and strips of pork or shrimp, are the size of fat cigars and are served with a basket of mint and lettuce leaves in which to wrap them. A dainty porcelain bowl of soy-based sauce (and more shredded carrot) is served alongside the rolls.
At the end of the repas,* our now bored and restless kids float like a couple of inebriated dragonflies over to the fish tank to watch the clown fish bump noses. When that gets old, the kid-diners leave the tank and begin to wrestle each other near the waiter's station.
"It's okay, they are not bothering anybody," Jean-Marc assures me. I look around... true, the restaurant was almost empty, and the kids weren't making more than a gurgling noise in keeping with their wrestling match woes. That's when I heard a bump. I looked up to find the tank intact, the kids now giggling.
"C'est rien,"* Jean-Marc assured. Despite my husband's encouragement--to relax and just let the kids be--my nerves began to fray and my sang* began to simmer. I looked down at my plate, past the julienned vegetables, to the agitated dragon and its fiery tongue; I could relate to its mood. I covered the monster with a soiled napkin and returned my gaze to the kids. A mother always has a choice: to spit fire or seize the festin that is Life. I left the table to gently wrestle my kids away from the waiter's station before the three of us returned to the tank to stand in awe before the nose-bumping clown fish.
*References: la libellule (f) = dragonfly; une assiette (f) = plate; le riz cantonnais (m) = fried rice; la crevette (f) = shrimp; le canard fumé (m) = smoked duck; le repas (m) = meal; c'est rien (ce n'est rien) = It's nothing; le sang (m) = blood
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