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.


une causette + Win another "prize"...

French Poster (c) Kristin Espinasse

Jean-Marc ("Chief Grape) will be in New-York this coming March 8th--or during his 2012 US wine tour (Photo taken in Le Castellet Village, at the restaurant Le Pied de Nez -- painting by Christian Pieroni)

WIN ANOTHER PRIZE (click here to enter this drawing): Today, help me practice The Noble Art of Listening... Enter today's drawing and WIN a telephone call from me (Kristin) in France! (Well, maybe not as exciting an offer as the previous one, but then... it is better than a kick in the pants!) Read on, in today's missive... or enter right away, via this link.

une causette (koh-zet)

    : a chat

un brin de causette = a little chat

 Audio file...
(Sorry, all the Francophones in our house are asleep--that means you are stuck with me! Listen, at your own péril, to the following recording: Download MP3 or Wav file

Une causette c'est aussi de la communication informelle entre plusieurs personnes, sur l'internet, par échange de messages affichés sur leurs écrans. A 'causette' is also informal communication between many people, on the internet, by the exchange of messages posted to their computer screens.

  

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

Grande Bouche

To not get a word in edgewise. This English expression is too delightful, la preuve that the French do not have the monopoly on charming expressions.

Visualize, pour une minute, the edgewise idiom. Can't you just see so many exasperated Words trying, in vain, to slip into The Conversation? At their wit's end, the weary Words must throw up their arms and fall back... so as to sneak in, edgewise, to the lively, one-sided Conversation.

Though the can't get a word in edgewise expression amuses me to no end, it is no fun being Blabbermouth. I'd rather be Good Listener. But when conversation gets going... I can't help but take flight, until, once again, I am steering this chatty vessel--Conversation--through the maze of Off Topic. Wheeeee!---------

"C'est HS," my kids say, eyes-rollingly, and I listen in time to understand some teen slang (HS  = "Hors Sujet" or Off Topic).

 "Let me just finish my thought here..." my Mom suggests, gently, as we fly from one subject to the next. She is game to ride with me on the Ferris wheel of WORDS, and our daily cross-Atlantic conversations are as thrilling as any fairground ride.

"Oh, don't worry about it!" says my friend Claire, who spent the weekend with me. "It's a French thing!" Claire should know, as she has studied the topic for her forthcoming opus.

I'd love to believe that so much word-butting and edging in to conversation is evidence of intercultural advancement, that, once and for all, in that far-off horizon known as French Integration, I am finally making headway... Alas, the truth may very well be, that I am only making "edgeway". 

 ***

 ANOTHER CHANCE TO WIN! 

 Help me practice The Noble Art of Listening... Let me call one of you on the phone--for at least 20 minutes--anywhere in the world! Enter a comment (maybe a tip on how to be a better listener?) in the comments box and I --or MamaJules--will choose a winner on Friday, February 24th. Maybe I could even share our conversation--in an upcoming story? Click here to enter this drawing. I hope to talk to you very soon! 

 French Vocabulary

grande bouche = big mouth

la preuve = the proof

pour une minute = for a minute

    => also "grande gueule" (though this term may be offensive!)

H.S. = hors sujet = off topic

 

Virginia Cecil Casey

There's Blabbermouth, there on the left (in red). From left to right: Kristin, Virginia, Casey, Chief Grape, Adrienne. (Thank you, Cecil, for taking the photo--wish you were in it!)

Don't Forget to enter this drawing!
Let me call you one the phone! Should you hear heavy breathing in the background... never fear! (That's just me hyperventalating. I am very nervous about calling you, so please enter here and let me know that you would really like to talk to me!)

And now, can anyone end this edition with the lyrics... in French.. of Blondie's Call Me? :-)

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.


étourdie + Win a French antique!

Kristin Espinasse. Photo by Alison Johnston Lohrey

To win the mysterious French antique, on offer in today's story, simply say hello, here in the comments box + let us know where you are writing in from. After randomly choosing a number, I will announce a winner on Friday. More about the giveaway, in today's story column.

Photo by Alison Johnston Lohry (Note to self: next time you post a photo of your person, choose any other post title... besides "Scatterbrained"! P.S. do you see a scar on my forehead? Ta da! This photo was taken four months after the first operation and a week before the second operation, the one mentioned in the previous post.)

 étourdi(e) ay-toor-dee

    : scatty, scatterbrained; flighty

 

Audio File: listen to our daughter, Jackie, pronouce today's word and example sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file

Il est bien étourdi; mais, entre nous, son coeur est bon. 
He is quite featherbrained; but, between you and me, he has a good heart. —Voltaire, Complete Works of Voltaire 


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

Scatterbrained

I am having a fickle of a time deciding what to write about today. It isn't a matter of writer's block, or la page blanche, the difficulty here is l'embarras du choix! So many possibilities! Which path to choose when it is just too tempting to amble down each windy road and lose oneself in that whimsical place affectionately known as "Just Around The Corner"?

Enough dreaming, it's time to choose a topic! Let's see...

I might tell you about our daughter's renewed passion for  jumping (BMX bikes, this time—and not horses!). Jackie's hobby has me aching to line our concrete terrasse with mattresses! I watch, from the kitchen window, as our 14-year-old builds a new jump, adding yet another vineyard stone beneath the wobbly ramp (a repurposed wooden shutter) after each adrenaline-rich stunt.... 

Then again, I might write about some of  the readers who come to visit. But then there have been so many.... To write about one would be to leave out the others. Quel dilemme! Perhaps I could backtrack... beginning with a photo from the most recent visit? (See the end of this post.)

Encore une fois, I had thought to write a story about a thank-you gift, the one I am trying to think up  for the surgeon's assistante that I see this afternoon (stitches come out today!). What to give someone whom I know nothing about, but whose gentle confidence has touched me? Du vin? Des fleurs? 

I should also update you with the good news: Max, 16, passed part of his driver's exam!: oui, il a réussi le code! This brings him to the "hands-on" part of the exam: the actual driving with an instructor! (such a relief to turn over the co-pilot seat—still wet from my sweaty, gripping hands—to a trained teacher!)

As for writing topics, I also thought this might be a good time to bring up the subject of email... please forgive me if you have sent in a note and if I haven't gotten back to you! I am trying, but no matter how many activities I cut out, in order to devote time to answering email, I still can't manage to keep up with incoming messages. I feel terrible about this... please know that I read and appreciate every single word you send, whether via email or via the comments box. Thank you so much! 

There were about four or five or fifteen other lovely things, in addition to your treasured notes, that I wanted to talk to you about today, but time is up! So I will get to the fun part of this scatterbrained offering, this anti-essay that ran away to that curious "Just around the corner" place...

The G I V E A W A Y !

 In thanks for reading this French word journal, I want to offer you the chance to win a little treasure! The trésor is currently a secret, but here's a hint: anyone would love it: young or "wizened", man or woman. If you like French antiques, you'll love this historic memento, one from my collection... one I adore and would love to offer you!

You might frame the antique... or wear it (making an eccentric necklace or an avant-garde pin?); you could put it in a glass box or make a whimsical collage.... You could carry it around in your pocket as a lucky charm or use it to mark a page in a book (never mind the bulk!). It could make a cool paper weight... though you might have to tie an extra something to it.

To win this antique simply leave a greeting here, in the comments box, along with your city. Example:  "Hola from Jules in Puerto Vallarta!" 

 I will post the winner's name on Friday. No matter where you live in the world, you may enter the giveaway, by leaving a comment here. (Sorry, but no comments via email).


French Vocabulary 
(section under construction... please check back!) 

 la page blanche = "the white page" or "le blocage de l'écrivain" (writer's block)

l'embarras du choix = a great variety of choices, an embarrassing number of choices

la terrasse = a paved area (sidewalk) or patio

quel dilemme = what a dilemma

encore une fois = then again

assistant(e) = assistant

du vin = some wine

des fleurs = some flowers

oui, il a réussi le code = yes, he passed the driver's exam

le trésor = treasure

 

Alison Johnston2

I had a good tchatche, or chat, with artist, fiddler, and writer, Alison, who lives part of the year in the postcard pretty village of Sauve. Photo taken by Jackie Espinasse.

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.