Paris shopfront (c) Kristin Espinasse

gargouiller (gar-goo-yay) verb
  to growl (in the stomach), to gurgle, to rumble

[from the word "gargouille" (waterspout) and the 'drole' sound that water makes inside it]

French Proverb:
  Ce sont les tonneaux vides qui font le plus de bruit.
  It's the empty barrels that make the most noise.

A Day in a French Life....

Jean-Marc invited me to Paris and the Champagne region where he would be presenting his wine portfolio as well as looking for new products (read: champagne!) to offer for export. The trip would be short--one night, two days--and we would need to leave for the airport by 4:30 a.m., but if that was okay with me then I was welcome to join him.

At 4:25 a.m. I am standing by the front door, overnight bag tucked under arm, having kissed my mother-in-law goodbye and having thanked her for watching the kids. By 11 a.m. we are stuck in traffic in Paris's first arrondissement with Jean-Marc noting how our flight from Nice to Paris took less time than our rental car trip from the Charles de Gaulle airport to the city center. While he
fights traffic I look out the window to discover Paris's high-end food district where elegant épiceries fines* like Fauchon and Hédiard and the posh caviar boutique, Prunier, line up.

We find parking and before long we are in a sleek, high-tech elevator. "Are you sure it is okay that I am with you for your meeting?" I ask. "Oui, t'inquiète pas," Yes, don't worry, Jean-Marc assures.

The reception area is contemporary Italian and the geometrical chairs and sofa would look good in any swank Parisian apartment. The CEO appears. He is a former model who worked for the top couture houses before trading fashion for fine foods. It is clear that he still has connections in the fashion world considering his soigné* appearance. Jean-Marc explains that he has brought me along, to which the CEO says dryly, "Oui, je vois," Yes, I see.

He directs us to a conference table which is almost as long as the Concorde but without wings. I place my parka and hand-me-down purse on a chair and that's when I notice the CEO's shoes, which shine. I look down to our shoes, my husband's and mine: Jean-Marc's are passable (no need to polish suede) while my boots are dull.

The receptionist, who looks like she just stepped off the cover of ELLE, sets out mineral water and asks if we would like an espresso. I say no, realizing coffee will only make my nerves feel more out of control in this very controlled environment. Next, we are introduced to an associate whose hair is tied back in a neat ponytail and whose outfit complements the uberswank surroundings: symmetrical, modern, chic. After a brief presentation including each company's purpose, the CEO, his associate, Jean-Marc and I sit facing each other, the narrow width of the Concorde table separating us. A quiet fills the room as information is digested and thoughts are gathered. When the silence becomes so pure that it approaches the perfection of every other symmetric element in the Parisian office with the Italian decor, then, and only then does my stomach roar, offering up one of its most mortifying gargouillements.*

References: épicerie fine (f) = pricy food shop (also: delicatessen); soigné(e) = well-groomed; un gargouillement (m) = growl, rumble (in the stomach)

Listen: Hear my daughter, Jackie, pronounce the verb gargouiller: Download gargouiller2.wav

Conjugation: je gargouille, tu gargouilles, il/elle gargouille, nous gargouillons, vous gargouillez, ils/elles gargouillent  :: past participle: gargouillé

In books:

The Ultimate French Review and Practice: Mastering French Grammar for Confident Communication. A good grasp of grammar enables the foreign-language learner to build skill and confidence in communication. Here's the "ultimate," painless way for intermediate and advanced learners to brush up on the rules. Each grammatical concept is explained and then illustrated with lively sentence examples; extensive exercises offer practice at applying this knowledge in everyday conversation. Also included are "culture notes," authentic documents, vocabulary boxes, and verb charts, as well as a full answer key and index.

Uncorked : The Science of Champagne. "The latest champagne science explained in blissfully plain English by a French scientist." --Tom Stevenson, author of "Christie's World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine"

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