Volume II
un jouet


gallery le garage in Lorgues (c) Kristin Espinasse
cuisiner (kwee-zee-nay) verb
  1. to cook  2. to grill (interrogate)

cuisiner quelqu'un = to give someone the third degree
cuisiner bien/mal = to be a good/bad cook

Citation du Jour:
Cuisiner suppose une tête légère, un esprit généreux et un coeur large. / Cooking calls for a tranquil mind, a generous spirit and a big heart.                  --Paul Gauguin

A Day in a French Life...

The policeman pulled up to our house, blocking our driveway with his bagnole.*

I studied the officer from my desk beneath the window, noting that he was in civilian clothing and driving a civilian car. I recognized him from my children's school, where he sometimes directs traffic. The forced smile was missing.

Instead of going outside, I went to get my husband. "There is a police officer out front," I said. Jean-Marc looked at me quizzically before I returned to the window to find the policeman now inching into the yard.

Next, I watched my husband approach the officer. Thirty-two seconds later arms were flailing, jaws were clapping, and many furtive glances were shot to the new annex in the back yard.

The men stood ant-like beneath the cypress tree, nose-to-nose, communicating as only French men can. When the aerobic gesturing ceased, the conversationalists stormed toward the garage, stomping past the sleepy lavender patch, and out of view.

I sat at my computer chewing on a few Belgian chocolates that Jean-Marc had brought back from his recent trip north, waiting nervously for the men to return to view. When they did cross the threshold, back into my window frame, I sat up to witness more wagging tongues, more jumping-jack arms. Finally, the policeman got into his car and sped off.  "That's it," I thought. "They're going to sabotage the garage!"

"What's going on?" I say, before Jean-Marc has closed the door.
"Rien. Tout va bien. Nothing. Everything is OK."
"Everything is ok? It didn't look OK!"
"Everything is fine. He measured the garage. Tout va bien."

We had just built the annex, careful to respect the neighborhood norms: that the building be 4 meters from the fence on either side, and no larger than 20 square meters.

"I think it was a neighbor who called the police," Jean-Marc said.
"De toute façon,* I'll know soon."
"How will you know?"
"Je vais cuisiner le policier."
"You're going to cook the policeman?"

That does not have a legal ring to it. But "grill" does.

*References: une bagnole (f) = a car (slang); de toute façon = in any case

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

To read more stories about this French life, click on the book cover below:


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