Previous month:
October 2016
Next month:
December 2016

Entries from November 2016

The Accidental Shoplifter & Happy Medium in French

The bitterest wine

THE BITTEREST WINE: a novel about a family's conflicting roles in WWII Provence and famous writers of the Resistance who influenced them. Order the book.



TODAY'S WORD: le juste milieu

        : happy medium


ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word: Download Juste-milieu

La vertu est le juste milieu entre deux vices. -Aristote
Virtue is the happy medium between two extremes. -Aristotle

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

"A Possible Tea Heist"

    by Kristi Espinasse


Yesterday, at the grocery store check-out, the stone-faced cashier glanced at my shopping cart after it cleared the two-poled security passage. "Voulez-vous me donner cette boîte de thé?" she said.

Would I like to hand over that box of tea??? In the time it took for my brain to translate the cashier's words, all customers in the Radius of Doubt turned to witness a possible tea heist!

To my amazement, there, in the corner of my steel shopping cart, was the little box
. It read "Nuit Paisible."  I had bought it (or meant to...) for my husband, who is having trouble sleeping at night.

Meantime--far from a tranquil night--this was some sort of daytime cauchemar! Did the cashier think I left the tea there on purpose--to scrape two euros off my purchase? Quelle honte!

"Oui...oui bien sûr!" I managed, my face sinking into the collar of my coat, where it was now warmed by a wave of humiliation. Handing over the forgotten item, I quickly reached for the articles coming off the belt, tossing them into my sticky caddy. But no matter how fast I bagged my groceries, the awkward moment dragged on! I was convinced everyone in line was judging me, and for more than that forgotten tea!

A few minutes earlier, you see, I had failed to let the man behind me--holding only a baguette--take cuts. Normally I would have let him pass, him--and the woman with hairspray and carrots, and the stray shopper who showed up with just a toothbrush. I ask you, dear reader, at what point--under what circumstances--do you ignore the one-item shopper standing behind you at the checkout?

One time I let a revolving door of one-two-and-three-item shoppers pass in front of me, Allez-y, allez-y! It was an unlucky coincidence. That was  years ago and, since, I have adopted another approach....

I have become the one-item shopper!

While that may be an exaggeration, here is the truth: I have ditched the big shopping cart (easier when you reach the empty nest...), opting now for the complimentary basket or the mini cart. This puts me in league with the Few-Items Shopper (though I don't dare exercise any of the checkout line benefits), releasing me from overthinking things (should I let her pass, too? And him? And them?).

But on this fateful day, as you have seen, I had the big cart (the kids are home for the weekend. Mom's cooking!). After weathering the humiliation of handing it over the forgotten tea, I speed-loaded my groceries and shoved my debit card into the machine--hoping to quickly get out of this situation. Only to steep in it a little longer....

PAYMENT REFUSEE. Debit card declined!! the screen was shouting. If anyone had been doubting whether or not I meant to steal the tea, they now had reason to believe!

Up till now I  had avoided eye-contact with Baguette Man. I was sure he was busy scrutinizing me for being so stingy in line. Rifling through my purse for my credit card, my face now red from a second wave of humiliation, I looked up and caught a glimpse of him.

Baguette Man had an entire aura of peace around him. Far from being resentful that I had made him wait so long to pay for his 98 cent loaf, he seemed truly sympathetic.

The card machine finally spit out a receipt and I was now on my way out to the parking lot, head held low, my mind working over possible things I could say to Baguette Man (were he chasing me out of the store, which he wasn't). "Let me explain... I'm usually a considerate person... I always let everyone pass! Don't judge me by an isolated act." But the conversation was really between me--and two extremes of personality: All or Nothing. Part of the answer to the day's lesson may be found in Aristotle's words:

"Virtue is the happy medium between two extremes." La vertu est le juste milieu entre deux vices.

Next time in the checkout line it won't be all or nothing. I'll let Baguette Man pass! Then I'll smile warmly to Hairspray and Carrot Lady, who can wait with Mr Toothbrush. We all need to practice the golden virtues. Patience being one of them.

*    *    *

Margerites
It is a big week for us concerning the sale of our vineyard. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts!

 

10 DAY ART VACATION IN FRANCE – Registration Now Open for May 2017 Silk Batik & Mixed Media Workshop

SALE French Riviera: California-style home splendid sea views, gated community: pool, tennis, 499K€

 
YOUR AD HERE. Reach 25,000 readers. Place an ad in the French Word-A-Day newsletter. Click here.


Smokey and cheese
Cheese etiquette (more here)
I learned so much about French cheese etiquette from your comments in Monday's post. Thank you! And many thanks to my French friend, Agnès, who offered this helpful insight:

"I confirm that it is not considered appropriate to have a 2nd helping of cheese... according to French bourgeois étiquette.
But most people don't know or don't care about it!"

SUPPORT THIS JOURNAL
Shop for necessities or gifts using any of the following links to enter the store.

TISANES - French herbal teas, including "Nuit Paisible".

APRONS, French-themed - keep the tomatoes in the tart and off of your nice shirt.

TABLECLOTH, Provence-themed linens for the house.

LAGUIOLE STEAK KNIVES are for sale in many of the local French market stands.

Smokey-wine-jug-leaves
Smokey bounding through the leaves that cover the pétanque court this time of year

 

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


French Etiquette: Did you know about this rule for cheese? I sure didn't!

Smokey-autumn-leaves
"New Day". Smokey reminds us all to live simply, slowly, and not to make a cheese about things! Speaking of fromage, tell us your favorite kind here in the comments.

TODAY'S WORD: en faire tout un fromage

        : to make a fuss about something
      : to make a mountain out of a molehill
      : to make a big deal out of something



ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French expression:

Download En faire tout un fromage

Improve your spoken French: Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


For Friday's lunch with guests Eugenia and David, there would be two things less to worry about: the plat principal and the cheese plate. (We still had gigot de sanglier--and the rock-star selection of fromages my sister-in-law, Cécile, had brought, when she and Jean-Marc's mom came for Sunday roast).  While these conveniences would not guarantee Fool Proof Entertaining (this time the powder room broke down and I burned dessert), the ready-made plats certainly chipped away at my To-Do list!

Speaking of To-Dos, I soon realized, during Friday's meal, one thing I'd left off that list: Continue to Keep Abreast of French Etiquette! 

Doubts began when I noticed my guests' hesitation before the delicious cheese platter including le comté, la tomme, la gorgonzola, les fromages de brebis... missing was la brousse (finished off that very morning for breakfast--over toast, with apricot jam! What a pity, we could have served this--la brousse avec confiture--for dessert instead of tarte brulée!)

Cheese Etiquette?

When the much-anticipated plateau de fromage remained untouched the second time around, Eugenia finally admitted: "Once, while eating at a French restaurant, I skipped dessert--opting instead for an additional serving of cheese--when someone pointed out it was impolite to have seconds from the cheese platter." Our guest finished her story with an innocent question. "Is this true? Is it bad manners to have another helping from the cheese platter?"

Everything went silent at the table but for the sound of my husband stabbing at another piece of comté--his fave.

Whatever the rules, we could see by one Frenchman's actions that there was no need to en faire tout un fromage when it came to cheese etiquette. Just dig in and enjoy!

I leave you with a photo of my burnt tart. Turns out our guests and my husband enjoyed it--washing it down with the help of a 1992 Chateau de Pibarnon.. and also a vin rouge Jean-Marc created, once upon a time, called Lunatique--which is still made at Domaine Rouge-Bleu! Does one need to be bananas to drink wine with dessert?

*    *    *

Banana-tart-tarte-banane

P.S. Were you aware of the cheese etiquette rule? And what is YOUR favorite cheese. Thanks for sharing in the comments.



Wild-boar-lasagna-lasagne-sanglier
Last night I used the rest of the gigot in this wild boar lasagne!



Paris-peace t-shirt

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.


              SUPPORT THIS JOURNAL
If you plan to do any shopping at Amazon this holiday season, thank you very much for using my links, below, to enter the store.

GROCERIES - including French delicacies like herbs, mustard, cakes


LAGUIOLE STEAK KNIVES are for sale in many of the local French market stands.

KITCHEN TOWELS by Garnier-Thiebaut.


Heidi-Marika-Jules-Reagan-Cheese-Importers-Colorado
Wistiti! = "Say cheese!" Speaking of fromage, my sister, Heidi (left), Mom, and niece, Reagan (to the right) met up with longtime reader Marika--at the Cheese Importers in Longmont, Colorado! The ladies in this photo inspire me, and I am so grateful to have them--and you--in my life. Thank you very much for reading this French word journal. I leave you with an all caps comment I just received, from another reader, Gus:

DSC00450
KRISTI, I THINK THAT I WAS 87 WHEN I FIRST FOUND FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY. ON JANUARY SECOND I WILL BE NINETY TWO. THERE WAS SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO DURING THOSE YEARS. YOUR STORIES AND PICTURES WERE ENJOYED EVERY WEEK. THE TIME THAT PAULETTE AND I MET WITH YOU AT THE OLD VINEYARD WAS A HIGH POINT OF MY LIFE. I HAVE FELT THE SADNESS THAT YOU EXPRESSED IN YOUR MANY POSTINGS THESE PAST MONTHS. LIKE WAITING FOR A VERY BELOVED FRIEND PASS AWAY. AS I HAVE TOLD GRANDDAUGHTERS WHEN THINGS GOT ROUGH, "SHOULDERS BACK,CHEST OUT,HEAD HIGH AND SMILE". YOU TWO POSSESS THE QUALITIES THAT THIS WORLD NEEDS. GOD WILL LEND THAT HAND THAT YOU NEED AT THIS TIME.

*    *    *
Thank you, Gus!! Comments like yours are greatly appreciated and keep me on track in the meaningful pursuit of expression.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


Before We Move... The Story of How We Came to Live at Mas des Brun

Bedroom-balcony
Picture of the balcony off our bedroom. It was my dream to live in a stone house and, in 2012, this rêve came true--with a view of the sea to boot!

TODAY'S WORD: sourire

    : (noun) smile
    : (verb) to smile

One way to support this French word journal: shop for necessities or gifts using any of the following links to enter the store. Thank you!

GROCERIES - including French delicacies like herbs, mustard, cakes
FRENCH COUNTRY DIARY 2017 - the popular and beloved engagement calendar.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.
FRENCH KNIT REUSABLE ECO SHOPPING BAG - made and knit in France!



AUDIO FILE: Listen to the following quote: Download MP3

Ne pleure pas parce que c'est fini, souris parce que c'est arrivé. - Dr Seuss
In recent posts, I have been showing you photos of our farmhouse and vineyard, which we are in the process of selling. I thank you for your messages, including Dr Seuss' words, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." As I think about the four years spent in a most endearing place, there are tears, certainly. But oh, the sourires!
 

MAS DES BRUN: A DREAM-COME-TRUE VINEYARD IN BANDOL

    by Kristi Espinasse

When Guy Hibbert, France Today’s editor-in-chief emailed me, mentioning that he’d planned a press trip to Provence and asking whether he could visit our vineyard, Mas des Brun, I panicked. Vineyard was suddenly a very big word! How exactly did it translate in my would-be visitor’s mind? Did it conjure up an image of elegant iron gates, beyond which a gravel path led up a hill dotted with vines, each row decorated with a heritage rosier?

At the end of this manicured chemin, would Guy spot a courtyard lined with topiaries? Would his eyes, tickled by the sculpted trees, then feast on a Provençal bastide? And would the chatelaine then gracefully appear, before immense carved-wood doors flanked with antique urns and some sort of noble moss flowing out. Indeed, is moss noble?

I don’t know. But there is such a thing as noble rot! And that’s how we ended up here, in this vineyard by the sea. But let us step away from the excitement of the moment – follow me, now, back to Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where a life-changing harvest was underway…

“That’s noble rot!” exclaimed Uncle Jean-Claude, who waved his clippers as a sign to go ahead and drop the mouldy grapes into my bucket. We were picking the classic ‘13 cépages’ at my in-law’s vineyard, the Domaine du Banneret. It was September of 1995 and my second vendange.

“Keep them! They’re the best grapes!” my husband shouted, relaying the message down the line of pickers – a motley crew of family members, ranging from our firstborn, Max, to Jean-Claude’s mother, Marinette, who wore a floral-printed apron and kept an eagle-eye on everyone.

I can still hear the thunk of metal handles hitting the sides of the buckets each time we set them down beside another heavily-laden vine. The trunks being goblet-shaped, we had to crouch down, level with the smooth galets. The stones were heated by the afternoon sun, but we were freezing from the ankles up as the Mistral wind tore through the vineyard, carrying off our sunhats and whirling my hair around my head, effectively blinding me.

“Watch your fingers!” my husband, Jean-Marc, called out. I could barely see him through my sun-bleached blindfold. The girl next to me, who would become godmother to our unborn child, spit windblown hair out of her mouth, and swore, “This is my first and last harvest! Quelle torture!”

I spied my husband one row over, tending an old Grenache vine. The look of rapture on his face was unmistakable. The realisation hit: there would not be a last harvest for me, ever…

Jean-Marc quit his fluorescent-lit auditor’s office in Marseilles for the sunlit campagne Aixoise. Over the coming years he would work as sales director for two prestigious wineries. His new career involved travelling outside of Provence, where he met cavistes, restaurateurs, importers and other key figures in the wine world.

Switching wineries in 1998, we now lived in the grounds of a 12th century château, a stone’s throw from Saint-Tropez, where our apartment overlooked orchards and vine fields. Our children – we now had a beautiful baby girl – would spend the next few years chasing each other through the vines and playing cache-cache among the olive trees. On lazy family walks around the domaine, Jean-Marc often paused to tuck an errant branch into place along the wire or pull a greedy weed from the foot of an ageing syrah. It was clear just where in the world of wine he needed to be: at ground level!

A Vignoble Quest

Jean-Marc wanted his own vines and he knew exactly where. A boyhood spent swimming in the calanques and hunting oursins, or sea urchins, along the Mediterranean held a trance over him. He set his sights on a  modest vignoble in Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer, but we soon learned that buying a vineyard in France wasn’t a straightforward procedure.

All agricultural transactions had to go through SAFER (Sociétés d’Aménagement Foncier et d’Établissement Rural), the government entity which controls all farmland purchases. We were assigned a representative, who seemed to favour our profile. Thus encouraged, we began sketching where the cellar would go and scouting the countryside to see where our kids would be schooled and where we would buy our morning baguette. But our hopes were dashed when a call came from SAFER: the buying rights would be given to a local farmer. The next months were bumpy – Jean-Marc was let go at work, but the good news was that his lawyer succeeded in winning him damages for unfair termination.

It was while perusing a viticulture journal that Jean-Marc noticed vines for sale at Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes in the Vaucluse – prime Côtes du Rhône terroir. The grapes were being sold to the co-op, but once we purchased the property – 23 investors and a bank loan later – Jean-Marc created a winery-sur-place, naming it the Domaine Rouge-Bleu, after our Franco-American union.

The salesman-turned-farmer learned from the ground up, living the emotional highs and quirky lows of winemaking. The wind broke his vines, the locals stole his compost and the tractor nearly cost him his life when the brakes went out, sending him and a ton of grapes hurtling downhill toward traffic! However, the newbie winemaker persevered and put a price tag on his first bottles which made area winemakers jealous. And when they snickered at his unusual ideas, calling him an hurluberlu, or nut, for practicing biodynamics – he was steeping horsetail plant tea for his vines and concocting field sprays made of cow manure – Jean-Marc was too busy receiving the good news to care. His first vintage, ‘Mistral 07’, received a gold medal from the Paris International Agricultural Show and 91 points in The Wine Spectator!

Towards Provence…

However, after five years in the Rhône, that soulful yearning for la mer returned. We began looking for a vineyard in Bandol, a search which proved impossible until a local winemaker gave us a tip about a unique property. There was just one catch – it only had olives, no vines.

The 20-acre domain safeguarded an ancient oliveraie. Historical restanques – or stone terraces – ascended the hillside, whispering the property’s raison d’être. Here was an amphitheatre for the grapes that would make Jean-Marc’s very own Bandol wine! He wrote to the owner, introducing himself, his family and our collective dream. Encouraged when the propriétaires responded, supporting our project, we began – once again – to envisage our dream estate, the children’s school, the morning baguette… when another hope-dashing call came!

By progressing with our plans, we’d somehow set off an alarm at SAFER headquarters and now the French government was interested in the property, too! Irony of ironies, for it was their job to help us locate farmland and now they might take our finding away and, according to buying rights legislation, provide it to a “fitting” candidate.

Our situation was all but hopeless and there was nothing to do but cooperate. After all, each party had something to lose: if SAFER bought the property then they risked not being able to sell it right away as the farmer they had in mind didn’t want the house that belonged with the land. In the end, we came to an agreement: the two best parcels would be sold to the local. We could now buy les restes

Let me now return you to the opening scene of our story, at our budding vineyard, where we’re anxiously anticipating the visit of our editor-in-chief, in the middle of a storm. On the upside, it was too dark and grey outside to tell whether we have a manicured courtyard or just some old wine barrels hosting a gaggle of daisies. And as for the antique door and heritage roses, well, our honoured guest hurried in out of the rain so fast that he didn’t realise they were missing! In any case, at that point, our collective attention was focused upon the kitchen door, beneath which a flood was rushing in.

“Bonjour, Monsieur Hibbert!” Throwing Guy some towels, I explained that we’d just need to stem the flood until Jean-Marc arrived. Just where the devil was he, I thought? He was due here an hour ago for this interview! In the meantime, our eminent guest looked relaxed, even amused – if a bit damp – as we sloshed wet towels around the makeshift tasting room.

Although I’d tried to imagine the perfect setting for this crucial meeting, the eventual disaster possessed a charm all of its own. And when Jean-Marc appeared in time to dig a trench – re-routing the torrent to a future vine field – Guy may have recognised him as a true paysan, ever at the mercy of the weather and French bureaucracy, but who – if worth his wine – is willing to labour through all such uncertainties.

View-from-bedroom

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


To be in limbo

Flou
It is raining this morning, here in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. Visibility is fuzzy--just like today's word (and our situation).

TODAY'S WORD: être dans le flou

        :  to be in limbo

 

BEAUTIFUL FRENCH FARMHOUSE for rent near Portland Oregon. Multi generational possibilities . Click here.

YOUR AD HERE. Reach 26,000 readers. Place an ad in the French Word-A-Day newsletter. Click here.



ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word: Download soundfile

Depuis quelques temps, ne sachant pas là ou nous allons déménagés, nous sommes dans le flou.
For a while now, not knowing where we will move, we are in limbo.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

   
We are in limbo. This state of  "which way will we go and when--next month? Next year?" began when my husband said he needed to turn the page. This vineyard and his passionate pursuit of the grape was fini! Fatigue, discouragement, and bad decisions (according to Jean-Marc) had brought him to his knees.

The revelation came as a complete surprise to me. Having put down my anchor in this "land of milk and honey," I had lofty plans of my own: grow a Garden of Eden (if that was OK, i.e. non-offensive, to God),  move Mom into her dream home (tree-house with wood stove and hammock), and one day see my grand kids run wild through the hills of grapes and avocados.

I know, I know, "Man plans. God laughs". Which reminds me....

Early on in what would become this Season of Limbo, I attempted to nail down the foggy ends of uncertainty (were there ends?). "Plan A" (if I remember correctly) was to move to the States ... "Plan B" involved renting out our farmhouse. Plan C was a combination of A and B - and involved hitting the road in an RV.

After "C "I gave all the ideas a rest and we let ourselves flounder in the valleys and hills of Limboland. Do you know that place? That neither here nor there Waiting Zone? A never-land (you never touch ground!) where all your dreams and fears draw swords and taunt each other. Apart from watching Hope and Despair spar casually with your future, you can do very little when in limbo. Best to go forward with your duties.

One of my duties is to bring the French language to you. So this morning I looked up the French word for limbo (être dans le flou) and was intrigued by the definitions. Did you now "limbo" is that holding place we go to after we die, before we are assigned our forever resting places in heaven or hell? (That would describe the two forces still sparing, oh-so-casually, two  paragraphs up!).

And, on the light side, limbo is a Caribbean dance in which people shimmy while passing beneath a low stick. The stick gets lower and lower as the dance wears on....

This morning Jean-Marc and I woke up under a stick so low one of us asked ourselves whether we should just lie in bed all day, being, as we were, pinned to the floor of incertitude. (Will our house sell this week?) Meantime the other one of us shimmied to the kitchen to make a second cup of coffee.

By the time I delivered that coffee to Jean-Marc we were both sitting up, ready to face another day. As my husband recorded the sound file for this post, using his smartphone, I fired up my computer, determined to set my energies on a constructive path. I am superstitious that way. I believe that if all forces are to come together for the good (the sale of our home), the good must start here--with good thoughts, good intentions--at the very least a good effort!

All this brings me back to Man Plans. God laughs. When will I ever learn the lesson? It is not solely by our efforts that we are rewarded. Good deeds don't guarantee reciprocity. We move on to a better place only by God's grace.

By the end of this week we may have received an offer on our home. I leave you with a picture I took on Friday, when we visited a possible "next place." I love how "place" rhymes with "grace"....

Grapevine-cellar-door


SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here.           

FRANCE & MONACO We offer exclusive short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Click here.

YOUR AD HERE. Reach 26,000 readers. Place an ad in the French Word-A-Day newsletter. Click here.


SUPPORT THIS JOURNAL
Shop for necessities or gifts using any of the following links to enter the store.

GROCERIES - including French delicacies like herbs, mustard, cakes

PET SUPPLIES - food, shelter, all the supplies you need to ensure your pet’s health and longevity

FRENCH COUNTRY DIARY 2017 - the popular and beloved engagement calendar.


WORDS IN A FRENCH LIFE: a collection of early blog stories from 2002-2006

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.

Sanglier-wild-boar-apple-tart

Carving the gigot de sanglier our neighbor gave us. It was marinated in red wine, herbs, mustard and honey, then roasted in the oven for two hours, basted every half hour. As for the delicious apple tart, with orange peel confetti, you'll have to ask my mother-in-law how she made that.



Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


Gigot: a surprise from our neighbor

Arbousier-strawberry-treeAn arbousier we planted behind our farmhouse. I first noticed these "strawberry trees" while visiting Corsica, where they are plentiful in the wild--as are boars, which gobble up the fallen fruit. More about sangliers in today's post.

TODAY'S WORD: un gigot

   
leg, thigh (of animal)

le gigot d'agneau = leg of lamb



ECOUTEZ -
hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's word: Download MP3 file

Un gigot. Hier, Annie nous a amené un gigot de sanglier.
A leg. Yesterday, Annie brought us a leg of wild boar.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

After writing Monday's post about une maman poule, I went to take a nap. No sooner did my head hit the pillow when Smokey began barking. Golden retrievers, I learned this week, have something in common with another beloved dog--the Pembroke Welsh Corgi: they only bark when necessary. So what was necessarily lurking outside our farmhouse?

Alone in the house--fueled by the adrenaline of someone who reads way too much Google news--I raced to the door and demanded,"WHO. IS. THERE!!!" when a soft voice answered,

"C'est Annie...."

"Oh, Annie! " I said, apologetically.

Throwing open the door I had to shoo Smokey aside, so interested was he in the bag Annie was holding. "Allez, déhors Smokey!"

"Rentre. Rentre, Annie," I said, ushering in my neighbor who was weighed down by a large sack which she held in her right hand.

"We just caught a sanglier," Annie explained.

My face must have been as white as our kitchen sink, beside which Annie set down that pig--or a part of it.... (But which part?)

"Je n'en peux plus. I am exhausted," Annie said, recounting the morning's battue, in which her nephew shot one of the wild pigs which had been wreaking havoc on her property--eating all her butternut pumpkins and noshing on the flowers right beneath her window! "Forget growing potatoes," Annie always warned me, "they'll devour them! And be careful with Smokey!"  (One of Annie's dogs lost his back end after a wild boar attacked it.)

I have heard all the sanglier stories and feared the day those wild boars would visit us, but in the four years we have lived on this hillside we have not been bothered by the boars. Though we have been given plenty of them to eat....

As Annie gifted me the still-fresh meat, I thought of the other leg of boar I had just crammed into my freezer (another unexpected visit from a hunter, these visits began years ago when a stranger showed up with a full-feathered pheasant--handing it to me upside down, by the feet! Do I look like someone who knows how to process a wild meat?).

I wouldn't tell Annie about the other boar, and so diminish her offering. And I wouldn't mention that we had no more room in our freezer (I was going to write a post about "freezer mismanagement"--and certainly vegetarians would have preferred that to today's anecdote about a wild pig roast! But after Friday's "no comment on elections" story I realize you are damned if you do and damned if you don't!

One thing I know for sure: I will be damned if I let this wild boar die in vain! What's done is done. And though I would not shoot a boar, I will not be a hypocrite who buys plastic-wrapped meat at the butcher's, yet cowers before the fresh-caught version.

No, I will be a coward who will prepare and cook this gift!

Before Annie left, she paused to offer an explanation. I recognized the explanation as the kind of justification you give after offering someone something that cost you a lot, something the receiver might not be prepared to accept as they have nothing on them to offer in return.  To avoid any such embarrassment, Annie thoughtfully pointed out,

"Thank you for the firewood and the bread and the tea for my daughter's fibromyalgie..."

I vaguely remembered the offerings, which seemed insignificant at the time. But from Annie's gesture (my neighbor, 25 years my senior, had wrestled a wild pig for me!), I know that every single time you give to someone, a debit is recognized. It is la dette de gratitude.



Supermoon
Picture of this week's supermoon taken behind our farmhouse. There in the pine forrest, the sangliers roam.

The-cook
That time Annie gave me a rabbit and I learned to cook it ! (Recipe here)

Selected products
When you shop at Amazon via one of the links, below, you help support this free language journal.

Laguiole steak knives are for sale in many of the local French market stands. Order here.

Beautiful French Kitchen Towels by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here

Paris Peace T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here

Garden-behind-farmhouse

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


Fried Eggs in French, a Maman Poule, and a visit from Max

Quail-egg
The French eat quail eggs (les oeufs de caille)... but do they eat fried eggs? Read on...

TODAY'S WORD: un oeuf au plat

    : a fried egg, egg "sunny side up"


ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:

Download MP3 for "Oeuf-au-plat"

Un œuf au plat, œuf sur le plat, œuf à la poêle ou œuf miroir est un œuf... cuit à la poêle ou sur une plaque préalablement chauffée. Lorsque l'œuf est cassé dans le récipient, son contenu s'étale et le blanc forme une couronne autour du jaune. (Wikipedia)

A fried egg, or egg on the flat or egg in the pan or mirror egg is an egg...cooked on a preheated surface. When the egg is broken into the recipient, its contents spread and the white forms a crown around the yellow.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

"Maman Poule"

    by Kristi Espinasse

Max came home for the weekend! Now that he goes to college in Montpellier, a good two-hours from here, we see him beaucoup moins souvent.  So these visits are something to savor--like fried eggs, apparently!

"I have never had these before. C'est très bon!" Max's friend said, as the local boys caught up with each other over brunch. Just last week, Jean-Marc made a similar comment about fried eggs, leading me to believe that les oeufs au plat are not part of French culture. 

It is a particular pleasure to share my American culture with French youth (I was going to say "kids" but I am coming to grips with this empty nest). That they respond so enthusiastically motivates me to share even more... and so I skipped back to the kitchen and fried up a couple more brown-shelled eggs "sunny side up" for these growing youths (they are still growing aren't they? Gosh. Our son is now 21 and a half...)

Turning back to the kitchen a few unexpected words reached me before I even reached the stove. "Merci, Maman Poule!" Max said.

It wasn't true. I wasn't really a mother hen. By offering lunch I had une arrière-pensée, an ulterior motive: to keep Max with me a little while longer. (The boys had been on their way out the door, probably to catch up with each other over burgers at MacDo).

As Max and his friend Yann carried on, chatting in French while eating American-style brunch, I basked in the term of endearment my grown son had lavished on me. "After this, I have cake!" I shouted from the kitchen. "Save room for le gâteau!" I stepped back from the crackling eggs in time to listen for the audible anticipation coming from the next room. This mother hen felt higher and higher, a chick with un-clipped wings!

Returning to the table with seconds straight from the frying pan, I eventually sat down with my coffee to enjoy few moments with the Max and Yann, careful not to be the mom who lingers too long. Five minutes later I casually stood up:

"When you're done just leave the dishes, I will do them!" I said, flexing my un-clipped mother hen wings.

Later on, after the boys had left, I strayed back to the dining room to clean up the mess. To my surprise the table was cleared, but for the dusty game of chess I keep there these days. I continued into the kitchen and found a nearly polished sink. Even the difficult-to-wash frying pan was drying on the rack. Spotless!

I slowly looked around my tidy kitchen when my entire mama poule persona began to smile. He is indeed all grown up now and I am so very proud of him.



IMG_0876
An old photo of Max...and a new blog sponsor, just below!!

BEAUTIFUL FRENCH FARMHOUSE for rent near Portland Oregon. Multi generational possibilities . Click here.

YOUR AD HERE. Reach 26,000 readers. Place an ad in the French Word-A-Day newsletter. Click here.

Oeuf-au-plat
Picture take a few years ago, with Max. Not sure what I've made there (Max looks uncertain, too...) but those are definitely oeufs au plat on top!

RECIPE
In today's story I talk about a cake I made. It was a Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake! Using the French yogurt cake recipe, as base, I added a cup of pureed butternut pumpkin, and enough chocolate chip and walnuts to satisfy a chocolate-nutty craving! Click here for the cake recipe.

P1020308
This picture is even older, and includes Jackie. And there's a picture of the yogurt cake (one version). More versions here

PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.

FOUTAS - perfect gift : quick dry towels for camping, sauna, gym--and more! Click here to order.


FRENCH GROCERIES FROM FRANCE - from Dijon mustard to Provence herbs. CLICK HERE

Carpe-diem
I leave you with a current photo of Max (and Smokey) and a good message, above their heads.

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


La Paix des Choses Sauvages , Wendell Berry, and Thoughts on The US Election Results

Daybreak
Picture taken on Election Day morning. Is the sky half full or half empty? Depends on how you see things.

TODAY'S WORD: la paix des choses sauvages

    : the peace of wild things




A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

Have you missed me? Or have you been so absorbed in the election results that you didn't notice a post has not gone out this week, until now--and this by the skin of my teeth.

(If only The Skin of My Teeth could continue writing this post-election essay.)

I've been thinking a lot about why I do not want to talk publicly about the election results. And when I say "thinking a lot," I've been, as writers or sensitive types are known to do, sweating blood from my temples as I struggle to put words to abstract thoughts and so present them to you.

As far as I understand, the reason for my silence (apart from a bad cold that's kept me in bed all week) is this: I don't want to hurt anyone! And if you don't believe me, read my results from the recent Personality Test I just took (twice!).

But what if altruism isn't really at the seat of this silence? What if a giant wet chicken (the French term for coward or wimp) is sitting in that very place? See, while my mom might forgive my difference of opinion, you, dear reader, might very well want to roast me on a stake for not roasting the president elect in this essay! (And then there's another percentage of readers who would roast me for not respecting that same roasted chicken. Wait a minute... Who's on first? (Scroll up, one or two lines, to verify said chicken. Then hurry back here so we can get this post over with.)

(Might I distract you from the completion of this dreaded essay by another game of Sentence Ping Pong? I didn't think so. You are, I fear, expecting a word, a thought, a response (or perhaps a solution?) to the post election results.  Come to think of it, I have two. Two words: Wendell Berry for Prez!

On second count, that's four words. I'm only good at math when I apply myself and the same is true regarding my behavior from here on out. What about you? In what area do you want to apply yourself in regards to making this world a better place? Isn't that, after all, the real issue?

I leave you with a poem by Wendell Berry, environmental activist, novelist, poet and farmer. And I have asked Jean-Marc to read it to you in French. Look for the sound file, below, and see you next week, à bientôt!


La Paix des Choses Sauvages

par Wendell Berry Listen to it Download Paix de choses sauvages

Quand le désespoir pour le monde grandit en moi
et je me réveille dans la nuit, au moindre bruit
dans la crainte de ce que ma vie et celle de mes enfants peuvent être,
Je vais et allonge où le drake du bois
repose dans sa beauté sur l'eau, et les grand héron se nourrit.
Je viens dans la paix des choses sauvages
qui ne taxent leurs vies avec préméditation
de chagrin. Je viens dans la présence de l'eau encore.
Et je me sens, dessus de moi, les étoiles d'un jour aveugle
en attente de leur lumière. Pendant un temps
Je me repose dans la grâce du monde, et je suis libre.

English translation, click here

Note: After Jean-Marc recorded the poem, I noticed the translation is not entirely correct. Feel free to edit and share in the comments section! I found the French translation to Wendell Berry's poem at the following site, and I send thanks, to Permaculture Eden.

Colombe


SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here for pictures.           

FRANCE & MONACO We offer exclusive short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Click here.

YOUR AD HERE. Reach 26,000 readers. Place an ad in the French Word-A-Day newsletter. Click here.


IMG_0871
Our kids when they were younger. May the ground always be carpeted thickly with flowers. Caring for this planet is a priority! If you haven't yet, watch Leonardo DiCaprio's documentary "Before the Flood."

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie


Le Changement d'heure : do you like it or dread it?

French-clock-tower
Here in France, we set our clocks back one hour on Sunday. And you? Do you have a time change coming up? And how does it affect you, le changement d'heure? Share your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post.

TODAY'S WORD: le changement d'heure

    : time change


heure d'été = daylight savings time, summer time
passer à l'heure d'hiver = to change to winter time

ECOUTEZ - Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's French word:Download Changement d'heure


Le changement d'heure. En France, nous avons fait le changement d'heure dimanche dernier. Et pour vous? Ce sera quand ce changement d'heure.
Time change. In France, we changed time last Sunday. And for you? When will you change time?

Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse

I was going to talk about politics today by reminding you to be extra careful with friendship over the upcoming election. I thought to tell you about how I lost what I thought was a solid friendship. I then realized that no matter how careful you are--going as far as to keep entirely quiet about your leanings--you can still find yourself the object of another's political ire, malgré vous!

(Read the bizarre "Ending of an Amitié" here).

But the past is the past! Let's move on while the clock it still ticking! And this brings us to today's topic: le changement d'horaire.  Here in France we set our clocks back one hour, to l'heure d'hiver, on Sunday.  I've never thought much about these forward and backward inchings of the small hand -- apart from the shrug that comes when I realize I have to drive in the dark, now, to pick up my kids at the bus stop).

But our kids are all grown now. Would that I could shrug, once more, about picking them up in the dark!

And now that they are out of the house, I am noticing a few new quirks of this empty-nester. One, I now do laundry like a student--combining both lights and darks to make a full load. And, two, without a 6 a.m.  wake-up call for the school run,  I am now sleeping in. This makes me feel oh-so-coupable. Guilty, lazy, slovenly...

Until this week! With the changement d'heure, I am no longer that lazy loser who is just crawling out of bed at (I won't say!). This morning, while fixing coffee, I looked up at the clock (the red one my mother-in-law gave us.....)



Bistro-amis

And it read 6:50 a.m. (pay no attention to the hour displayed in the photo, above. The picture of our family clock was taken after my husband, on his way to his wine cellar to check on fermentation, said his infamous, "back in 5 minutes". This time we'd see about that!). (He made it back in 21 minutes. Not too bad.)

This week, with the time change, my self-esteem (or "amour-propre") is back intact! Looking at the clock above la machine à café, I see I am up and ready to seize the day...or to eventually seize my husband...if Monsieur Back in Five  is 30 minutes late!

***

Thank you for reading. Let me know your thoughts about setting back the clock or altering the time. Anecdotes welcome. Extra credit for insights and history on the subject of le changment d'horaire! Find the comments link at the end of this post.

 

Sundial


FRENCH VOCABULARY

malgré vous = in spite of yourself
amitié = friendship
l'heure d'hiver = winter time
coupable = guilty


SABLET HOME - for high quality vacation rentals in the heart of Provence. Click here.           

FRANCE & MONACO We offer exclusive short-term holiday rental properties throughout France and Monaco. Click here.

Nice & Serre Chevalier 029
An old sundial in Serre Chevalier

Selected products
When you shop at Amazon via one of the links, below, you help support this free language journal.

FRENCH-THEMED CLOCKS see a variety, click here.

FOUTAS - perfect gift : quick dry towels for camping, sauna, gym, massage, water park Click here to order.


Laguiole steak knives are for sale in many of the local French market stands. Order here.

Beautiful French Kitchen Towels by Garnier-Thiebaut. Order here.

PARIS PEACE T-shirt - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty. Click here


French-clock-tower

Thank you for the time you've just spent reading this French word story. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next letter, please know that a one-time contribution helps me continue doing what I love most: improving these posts. Your support is vivement apprécié. Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! 
♥ Send $10    
  ♥ Send $25    
    ♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’m a high school French teacher, and I love how your blog gives me everyday vocabulary and glimpses of French character and tradition. Your gentle expression of your faith and rare transparency of emotion inspire me."
--Melanie