How to say chopped in French? + gift giveaway

Mastering the Art French Eating by Ann Mah

Ann Mah is giving away three advance copies of her new book Mastering the Art of French EatingLessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris. Enter to win here.


haché (ha-shay)
 
    : minced, ground; chopped

un steak haché = hamburger (the French say hamburger when the burger is served on a bun; sans bun and it's called un steak haché)


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristin Espinasse


My friend Ann wrote a new book called Mastering the Art of French Eating. Now there's a book I could have used when coming to France. Then, the world of food and dining was as foreign to me as the bon vivants who lived there.

Over the years I've had to paste together my own version of l'Art de Manger Française. Here are just a few gleanings:

Get your order right or end up with a marijuana burger
It's easy to flub up an order, or une commande--but a command of the French language will save you the embarrassment. Take your time when ordering and avoid the mistake I made when, as a young recruit at the chamber of commerce in Marseilles, I slipped out to lunch at a nearby burger joint and ordered a steak hashish.... 

Don't stock beans or other things

While playing house with my then boyfriend, I was lining up the cans of haricots verts and thon and maïs when I received a polite request: Essayons de ne pas stocker la nourriture, Jean-Marc suggested. It was true, why hoard food when the market was nearby? By buying only what we needed we could eat fresher meals and save money (by not having to toss out expired food).
 
Is French milk older than a toddler?
One of the things the French do stock is milk. So much so that it has a creepy-long shelf life! (the French keep their milk in the cupboard until opening the bottle, at which point it's stored in the fridge).

It is an acquired taste le lait UHT (sterilized, longue durée) but one thing's sure: a café au lait made in France is appreciated far and wide. Americans love it! So if you've ever wondered why you couldn't recreate the creamy taste back home, now you know: fresh milk's the culprit. 

6 o'
clock is when the birds eat
This is a long-standing joke between my husband and me. Tu manges a l'heure d'oiseau, Chérie? he teases, now that I've gone back the American dinner hour. Tweet tweet! I love eating early but will gladly accept a dinner invitation--and be prepared to eat at l'heure de grillon, or the cricket hour.
. 
Wandering Hands & Footsies
Isn't there a rule about keeping your elbows off the table and left hand in your lap when dining? It's practically the opposite in France, where a hand that disappears beneath the table might be up to no good (feeding the hostesse's escargots to the dog, are you? Or maybe, as in olden times, you're reaching for your gun?! Best to keep your hands to the sides of your plate so the hostess can relax.

(When I first learned this rule, I didn't know about hungry dogs or outlaws, or the history behind the "hands on table" etiquette. My guess was that French innuendo was at play again--and that the French were always imagining the racy side of things. In America we call below the table "hanky-panky" footsies.) 

Bon ap'!
It's lovely in any culture to wish each other bon appetit, but the French go as far as blessing complete strangers. Bon appétit, they'll call out, when you're seated on a park bench chowing down on un sandwich au fromage. Bon appétit, they'll shout, when you're stopped at a traffic light, inhaling a croissant, late for work. Bon appétit, you'll hear, when strolling down the street, window-shopping and munching on a slice of pizza. It can be embarrassing... or deeply charming. Depends on how you take things.
. 
So bon ap' (if that's the case) and bon courage as well. I hope these insights will help you next time you tuck a napkin in your shirt collar (do the French do that? Let me think about it... I'll get back to you when I've got the answer (or share yours below...).
French Vocabulary
le haricot = bean (click here for haricot post)
le haricot vert
= green bean
le thon = tuna
le maïs = corn
essayons de ne pas stocker de la nourriture = let's try not to stock food

I leave you with a few recipes--in case you missed them:

Make the fruit salad I told you about (I've made it three more times since posting the recipe--and discovered that it is the ripe honeydew melon that really makes it good!)

Tomato Tart -- don't miss this favorite! It's tomato season here in France and time to make this easy, fast recipe that everyone loves!

No Grudge Fudge : you won't be mad at yourself after eating this organic 4-ingredient sweet treat. I've made it several times since posting the recipe (the latest version is a Reese's knock off! Just add peanut butter...)

  Door in Vinsobres (Var) (c) Kristin Espinasse
  Where's your favorite place to dine? On the front porch or on the beach or at a restaurant?

Kristin and Braise and golden retriever puppies (c) Jackie Espinasse

Braise (above left) and I in 2009. One of these 6 pups is Smokey.

This blog turns 11-years-old in a few months. 1500 stories are found in the archives, or pick up an edited collection here or here. Your book purchase is a great support to this free word journal. Thanks for reading and for sharing this website with a friend.

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


amour-propre

Jacques (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Primroses, stuffed cats, and other this's-n-that's." More than a few things are off today, including this photo which I am unable to straighten or edit - given that my computer crashed this morning. More, in today's missive. (Photo of my brother-in-law, Jacques, who has spent the past two weekends with us, helping to fix the upstairs ceilings. Click image to enlarge it.)


amour-propre (ah-more-prohpr)


    : self-esteem, self-love, self-worth; pride

blesser quelqu'un dans son amour-propre = to be a blow to one's ego


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

I am getting a kick out of the French definition for the verb vexer: être offensé dans son amour-propre or "to have one's pride offended". I don't know, French definitions always sound so dramatic to me and this is only one of the reasons I love foreign language.

But vexer, that may explain my response this morning as I stood in the kitchen in my purple pjs tucked into orange ski socks chanting positive affirmations for the beginning of the work week.  (This was after I realized I was incontinent and before I discovered my computer had crashed, and the reason for which I am typing this post on my son's keyboard. I have to crane my neck to look up to the screen, which is placed on a shelf next to a bong. A BONG?!...)

But back to my story, lest I lose the courage to work in these unusual surroundings. Back to hurt or offended pride... yes, I was standing there in the kitchen, tissues stuffed in more places than my pockets, psyching myself up for another Monday, when my son stumbled into the room.

"There is nothing to eat in this house!" Max lamented.

I begged his pardon, for there was always something to eat in this house. When was the last time he skipped a meal? Besides, I said, reaching for the bread bag, there was brioche! (I quickly peered into the bag to verify the brioche was not growing green fuzz on its back. And even if it were (which, ouf!, it wasn't) would I be the first parent in the history of the world to have plucked off a spot or two of green fuzz before thrusting the miserable bread back at her child?).

Pourquoi je ne peux pas manger le petit déjeuner comme tout le monde?" Max complained.

"So you want to follow the sheep?" I countered. "And do like everybody else does? Be numb to your own decision making? Well, a good box of GMO flakes will help you with that! And you can buy it with your own money!"

Meantime, I pointed out, there is brioche or oatmeal or yogurt or oranges or bananas for breakfast. With that, I grabbed my tea and tore out of the kitchen.

To the young man left holding the bag of brioche it must have been quite a sight, that of a pride-hurt mama stomping off in big orange ski socks over sagging purple pjs and a faux fur vest (snapped up from my daughter's giveaway pile—the extra layer almost keeps me warm). 

I am nothing if not a mix—of new and used, thoughts and things, stuffed tissues. I do the best I can. At times I make do. And sometimes, just sometimes, I wish others would too.

French Vocabulary

ouf = phew

Pourquoi je ne peux pas manger le petit déjeuner comme tout le monde? = why can't I eat (a normal) breakfast like everybody else 

              

game of boules (c) Kristin Espinasse
My brother-in-law and Jean-Marc taking a break from repairing the ceilings in the kids' rooms. 

    => How to properly pronounce French words? Read "Exercises in French Phonics"! 

Front porch (c) Kristin Espinasse
"Front porch". The woody branches of the almond tree (left) and the fig tree (right) are coming to life, though you cannot see the little leaf buds from this far.

Re that bong I mentioned (you were wondering, weren't you?). What I saw on Max's desk was not a bong. Find out what it was in the first few paragraphs of this story, click here to read it.

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


Mealtime and How to say "I'm full" in French

Mont Ventoux (c) Kristin Espinasse
A typical country lunch in southern France... read on, in today's story.

rassasier (rah-sah-zee-ay)

    : to satisfy, to satiate; (reflexive) to have enough, to be filled

Audio file: listen to Jean-Marc teach us three ways to say I'm full (and not "je suis plein"!):  Download MP3 file or  hear the Wave file

  1. Non, merci. Je n'ai plus faim.
  2. Non, merci. Je suis rassasié(e).
  3. Non, merci. J'en ai eu assez. 

 

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

  "An outward focus and an outstanding lunch" 

On Sunday we were expected at Yves and Roseline's house for le déjeuner. I thought to send Jean-Marc ahead without me, not wanting to distract the other diners with my bandaged nose

"J'ai l'air ridicule!" I assured Jean-Marc. It's just comical. How will the other guests keep a straight face?

"Why don't you just cut it off altogether?" he joked. I did not share Jean-Marc's sense of humor, which only fueled my frustration. That's it! No use hiding out at home, alone, with my husband's words ringing in my head!

Lunch at Roseline and Yves's was a welcome distraction. For the repas de chasse, we were greeted by six of Yves's black-and-white spotted hunting dogs, les epagneuls. Our gentle host offered a warm three-kiss welcome, before ushering us into the house, to sit beside the fire with the other guests.

Yves's wife, Roseline, appeared with the first of several apéritifs... Inside the little clear glasses, or verrines, puréed avocado held a layer of crushed, sun-dried tomatoes. Another tray included individual servings of pumpkin potage with a slice of foie gras on top of each mini soup. We used spoons to dip into the small serving glasses; meantime Yves poured champagne.... 

Also on the coffee table were three kinds of savory petits-fours: one of the buttery pastries was made into little feuilletés à la tapenade, another ( a kind of puff pastry cup) held fruits de mer in a creamy sauce. There were also little pancakes with crème fraîche and smoked salmon on top....

If we were going to finish lunch by 4:30 pm, we'd better get crackin'. It was almost 2pm when we switched tables, leaving the living room for the dining room. Roseline disappeared into the kitchen in time to fry up two omelets, carefully mixing in the truffles that were unearthed near the vineyard just outside her kitchen!

After the omelette aux truffes, Yves brought out his offering:

  Yves

 Lièvre aux truffes. Yves caught the hare himself, and he and Roseline prepared it with truffles, foie gras, and cognac.

The other guests at the table teased the host, after a pellet was found on one of the diners' plates (I think it was Jean-Marc who pulled it out of his own mouth!).

"Be careful not to break a tooth when eating at Yves!" one of the table mates winked.

The four-hour meal continued... A plate of soft cheese, including Saint-marcellin and reblochon, followed, before two "kings cakes"—les galettes des rois— were delivered to the table, following the recent Epiphany celebration.

What with all the outstanding food, this bandaged nose hardly stood out.  What a shame it would have been to have missed out on a traditional country French lunch, surrounded by down-to-earth hosts and their delightful convives

***

Update: I return to the doctor's this afternoon, to have the stitches taken out, and to learn the results from this third biopsy. Many thanks for the positive thoughts you sent me! 

 

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le déjeuner = lunch
j'ai l'air ridicule
= I look ridiculous
le repas de chasse = hunter's meal
un epagneul = English springer
un apéritif = usually refers to a drink, but can also refer to a snack, such as an amuse-bouche that preceeds a meal 
la verrine = a little see-through glass or cup in which one layers mousse or other savory or sweet "pureed things", topped or mixed, with non-pureed items, too 

le potage = a thick soup
le foie gras = a kind of pâté made of duck or goose liver
les petits fours = little snacks or hors d'oeuvres, made of puff pastry
les fruits de mer = seafood
la crème fraîche = sour cream
le lièvre = hare
un convive = guest (see the convive post, here, and hear the word spoken)  

Yves2
Some of the Rhône wines that were served: Domaine la Soumade, in the village of Rasteau.

DRB
Domaine Rouge-Bleu, in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes.

Blossoming-cover-kdpBlossoming in Provence is the perfect gift for a traveler, Francophile, or language lover, and the stories, with their in-context French vocabulary, make learning effective and easy! Click here to buy a book, and thank you! 

 

The baronnies hills and landscape (c) Kristin Espinasse
I wish I'd gotten a photo of the lovely Roseline (always too shy to ask to take a photo of the hostess. Will work on this!). Here is a beautiful landscape picture, taken not far from their home. Notice the galets that surround the vine trunks. In the distance, the Baronnies is a favorite area for hiking, horse-riding, hang gliding, and cycling.

Les Soeurettes (c) Kristin Espinasse
A snapshot from the archives. Smokey's sisters "les soeurettes". Would you like to add a caption to this photo?

 

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


s'occuper

Josephine baker colins
Read about "Josey" (from our former stomping grounds of St. Maximin) in today's story... and don't miss a photo of Smokey's Ma and Pa at the end of this edition.

s'occuper

(so-kew-pay)

verb


to keep oneself busy


Italian Josephine made homemade pizza the size of a hamburger patty, only there wasn't any viande, just a bony anchovy and a meaty olive or two. When she had the energy, she delivered her Italian pies and stayed to watch you enjoy them. And she never charged.

"Ça m'occupe." It keeps me busy, she would say, simply. As I ate, she would sit facing me with her cane, her knitted shawl, and her buckled shoes, and reminisce about an American friend, whose name she shared, and the adventures they had back in the '50s along the Côte d'Azur, when one ran an Italian épicerie and the other ran away from Paris. I listened, but mostly I studied Josey, whose dark eyes, once dull, now sparkled.

The last time Josephine showed up at my door with one of her trademark mini pizzas, she was carrying a black-and-white photograph.
 
"I have something to show you," she said. We sat at the table, I in my one-size-fits-all dress (weeks away from giving birth to my second child) and Josey with her shawl and cane and buckled shoes, the black-and-white photo between us. The scratched and faded image revealed the two glowing Josephines: one "café," the other "au lait." The women were dressed in satin kimonos and holding umbrellas, smiles as big as the complicity they shared. I studied the old photo from afar when suddenly my Josey mentioned that her friend loved to sing and dance....

Sing. Dance. Josephine! That's when I grabbed the photo from the table and viewed, up close, the veritable, the one and only Josephine Baker—the celebrated American danseuse (and sometime secret agent) known to appear at the Paris Folies in nothing more than a jupe made of bananas, her pet leopard, Chiquita, in tow.

My excitement was cut short when Josey told me that she was moving to Saint-Raphaël, that her daughter could no longer look after her here in Saint-Maximin. I quietly set down the photo and looked at my friend as a lump formed in my throat. C'est toujours comme ça, I thought bitterly. Just when you meet someone—the kind of person you can just sit with and say nothing to and not feel awkward, the kind who makes a little pizza pie for you because they are thinking of you in your absence—they up and move to a faraway city!

Before Josephine left, she pushed the photo across the table. "C'est pour toi," she said in her soft voice. I tried to tell her that I could not accept her photo, that she should keep it, but she insisted. I couldn't take Josey's only photo of her with her legendary friend...unless...unless it wasn't the only one? Perhaps there were others? Yes! There must be others of those "girls" in the good ol' days—other snapshots—with leopards and banana skirts and maybe a feather boa or two!

I watched as my Josey padded out the door, little steps with her big-buckle shoes. So fragile, she seemed, that you might have taken her for a broken-winged bird, but for the leopard-printed tracks in her wake.

***

 

YOUR EDITS HERE
 Thank you for pointing out any typos or important ambiguities (!)  here


French Vocabulary

la viande = meat

l'épicerie (f) = grocer's

le café = coffee

au lait = with milk

la danseuse (le danseur) = dancer

Folies = Les Folies Bergères (famous music hall in Paris)

la jupe = skirt

c'est toujours comme ça = it is always that way


 

Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the verb s'occuper: Download soccuper.wav

Expression: Occupe-toi de tes affaires! = Mind your own business!

Conjugation: je m'occupe, tu t'occupes, il/elle s'occupe; nous nous occupons, vous vous occupez, ils/elles s'occupent

 Easy French Reader: A fun and easy new way to quickly acquire or enhance basic reading skills

In film:  Paris Je T'aime Paris I love You.

Kindle 189
Kindle Wireless Reader, 3G + WiFi. Order one here.

DSC_0020

Smokey's parents: Mr. Sam (left) and Mrs. Braise (brez). 

DSC_0030-3 
You did read the story of their elopement in Marseilles? They were about to board the train for Venise when we finally caught up with them! Read the story here.

 Recipe! Though I never did think to ask Josey for her pizza recipe, here is something similar...  a cinch of a recipe from my daughter's French godmother, Rachel. View it here.

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


accueillant

Tenuta_montanello
Taken at the bed and breakfast in Italy.

Smartfrench_2SmartFrench CD-ROM --"the smart way to learn French"

acceuillant,e (listen to the sound clip, below) adjective
  welcoming, friendly

Le véritable poète a pour vocation d'accueillir en lui la splendeur du monde. The true poet's vocation is to welcome within himself the world's splendor. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

                                                             Column_15
My high heels scraped over the jagged cobblestones and I linked my arm through Jean-Marc's for balance, stopping to throw my head back for a view of the hilltop castle beside which we now stood. Large spotlights, fitted into the ground between the old stones, lit the medieval walls which disappeared into the black Piedmontese sky.

Jean-Marc and I continued down a winding path in Castiglione Falletto in search of pasta. When the first restaurant was full, we shrugged our shoulders and headed toward the brightly lit sign that read "BAR". From the bar's terrace we approached a window and peered in. The place was empty but for an older woman and two men who sat playing cards. The woman made eye contact and motioned for us to come in. When we hesitated, she opened the door and came out to greet us.

"We just want a plate of pasta," Jean-Marc explained, not yet recovered from his truffle and cream lunch in Alba. "No pasta," the woman apologized. Then, as if an Italian light bulb went off in her head, she chirped "Risotto!"

We took a cushioned seat at the back of the bar, just beneath a strip of fluorescent lights and next to a blaring TV. Noticing the program "A Prendre Ou A Laisser" (Take It Or Leave It), Jean-Marc remarked about how the Italians had adapted the French game show. "How do you know the show didn't originate here?" I argued, this to a man who still believes Barolo could be a French wine (given the Piedmont winemaking region used to be part of France).

When Jean-Marc asked our doting hostess about the wine menu, I shot him a look that said that THIS was no place to be a wine snob, we were in a BAR after all--not a wine bar but a European snack bar.

"This will be good," I assured Jean-Marc. "Pull your chair over next to mine." He did, only to begin swatting at fruit flies which collected above his wine glass. His arms fell to the table after I shot him another look, not wanting the sweet lady who had given us such a warm welcome to worry about a few flies.

The woman, who called herself "Renza,"* brought out a platter of thinly sliced cold cuts, delivered with a smile, followed by a look of uncertainty. I nodded enthusiastically while elbowing Jean-Marc. "MmmMmm, this is very good!" he assured her. And it was.

As we ate the first course, I could hear Renza chopping away in the kitchen. Minutes later we would be drooling over her celery, walnut and gorgonzola salad, pulling the lemon pips from our olive stained lips.

When Renza tried to enlighten us on bagna cauda,* the third course just before the risotto, we couldn't understand an Italian word she said. Undeterred, she pointed to the roasted yellow peppers, the halved onions, and the "hot bath" they found themselves in. "B-a-g-n-a c-a-u-d-a!" she repeated.

The final dish was rice. Just rice. (And who'd have thought that Just Rice could be this good?) We pushed aside the leftover risotto, too full to finish, and watched wide-eyed as Renza returned with a wicker basket full of sliced Italian cake, or "panettone," unshelled peanuts, clementines and a sprinkling of wrapped Italian caramels.

When the bill came I thought Jean-Marc might start dancing, just like those fruit flies above his wine glass: only nine euros for his five-course meal (and the wine, only two-fifty per glass)! Jean-Marc pulled out a twenty and fished around for another ten. Renza accepted the twenty and pushed his wallet closed, sealing the transaction with a smile as warm as b-a-g-n-a c-a-u-d-a.

                                    *     *     *
Renza_1left, Renza and me.
References: Renza (recipes and more about Renza in this book); bagna cauda = a warm sauce (anchovies, olive oil, and garlic) for bread and boiled/roasted vegetables
*To find Renza, just look for "La Terrezza Bar Da Renza" when in Castiglione Falletto.



Hear French:

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and quote: Download accueillant.wav

Accueillant/accueillante.
Le véritable poète a pour vocation d'accueillir en lui la splendeur du monde.

In Gifts & Books:
CreusetrisottoLe Creuset risotto pot made of enameled cast iron for even heat distribution

PanettoneChristmas Napoli Panettone Cake - Traditional Italian Dessert

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


"I have enjoyed this blog for years and watched your children grow up. You are staying strong through all the changes. Merci pour tout."
--Betty D.


gaver

   Agayrocher
         The seaside town of Agay, near Fréjus and just east of St-Raphael.

gaver (gah-vay) verb

  1. to force-feed; to fill up (with)

...and in English there is the noun "gavage" (gah-vazh): a feeding for someone who will not or cannot eat.

Expressions and Related Terms:

en avoir jusqu'au gaviot = to be stuffed, to have eaten too much
gaver quelqu'un = to stuff someone with food
se gaver de = to stuff oneself with
une gavade = (a synonym would be "un goinfrerie" or piggery)
Tu me gaves = (I am fed up with you (talking)).

L'éducation ne consiste pas à gaver, mais à donner faim.
Education consists not in stuffing, but in giving one an appetite.--Michel Tardy


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

What? The French Pig Out? 

Eighteen transats are lined up across the Mediterranean seafront. We loungers sit in clusters surrounded by an arsenal of sun cream, stacks of magazines, and our twenty sand-cloaked offspring. Welcome to the rendez-vous Agay, where Jean-Marc and eight of his high school pals--and their wives--reunite once a year in a cozy seaside escape just east of Marseilles.

Two of the nine wives are wearing the top half of their swimsuit; the others are seins nus. We flip through Madame Figaro, Elle and Marie-Claire.

"Tiens!" my neighbor says, pointing to her magazine. "It seems one-pieces are à la mode this season."

I nervously adjust my haut. Just when I've set aside insecurites--and donned a two-piece--the fashion authorities are now touting one pieces! 

Never mind. I never know what to wear anyway. Might as well practice social skills. I turn to Sophie who is applying cream to her daughter. After a decade in France, I'm still tongue-tied when it comes to a natural conversation with my husband's high school friends. I wish I could be as breezy and as funny as the women in this group. I can always try....

"T'as vu comme on s'est jetté sur la nourriture hier soir? Did you see how we threw ourselves on the food last night?" I say to the mom next to me. 

"C'était une vraie gavade! It was a real pig-out!" Sophie laughed, recapping the sun cream and pitching the bottle into a wicker beach tote.

Ouf! I'd made my friend laugh and learned something in the process--a new French word: gavade. I recognized the delightful sounding noun as a Marseillais term (from the verb "gaver"--to stuff). I'll bet you didn't think such a verb existed in the French language what with so many figure-conscious Frenchies? Oh, si!

I was now laughing along with Sophie, thinking of the previous night when seventeen positively chic French citizens and one American "resident of France" turned into one spinning, clawing mass of arms and mouths--Hunger personified....

Panick had arisen after someone miscalculated the number of pizzas needed for all of us adults and our kids! That's when our normally laid-back friends became a human pizza tornado.

We had begun with our ethics intact, serving the kids first until somehow the lines between where the children's meal ended and our repas began became blurred. I noticed that 6 bottles of wine remained untouched as the French turned their attention to the boxes of pizza and to the few remaining pies inside them. Next, all pride was set aside.

When the unseemly gavade was over the French returned to their more disciplined selves--reaching for the sopalin and wiping the corners of their mouths. With all evidence erased someone popped a cork and, for most, memories of the pig out were washed away with the rosé.

*    *    *

More stories in the book Blossoming in Provence. Makes a great gift for a language learner or traveler. Click here to order.

French Vocabulary

le transat = deck chair
les seins nus = topless
tiens = take a look at this
à la mode = in fashion
le haut = top
Marseillais = from/of Marseilles
si = yes ("si" indicates a positive response to a negative question. Ex.: "Vous n'avez pas faim?" "Si! J'ai faim."
le repas = meal
le sopalin = paper towel
le rosé, rouge, blanc = rose, red, white

La ROCHE-POSAY sunscreen is rated top by Consumer Reports

THE FRENCH LOVE THESE BEACH TOWELS - quick drying, good-looking

Bonjour AuRevoir doormat

To order "Bonjour/Au Revoir doormat", click here

Agay coastline (c) Kristin Espinasse
The coastline, or le littoral, in the seaside town of Agay.

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 
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