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.
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
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety