gallery le garage in Lorgues (c) Kristin Espinasse
    An art gallery in Lorgues, France

Translated into English for the first time since its original 1927 publication, La Bonne Cuisine has long been the French housewife's equivalent of...The Joy of Cooking--a trusted and comprehensive guide to "la cuisine bourgeoise" or home cooking... Julia Child called LBC "one of my bibles"... --Publishers Weekly. Order it here.

cuisiner (kwee-zee-nay) verb
  1. to cook  2. to grill (interrogate), to give the third degree to

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...
Hidden in my office, behind a reflective window, I size up the police officer at our front gate. I recognize him from my children's school where he sometimes directs traffic, except that the forced smile is missing today. I note that he is wearing civilian clothing and standing next to his civilian car.

"There's a flic* out front!" I say to my husband. Jean-Marc looks at me quizzically before checking the window to find the policeman now inching into the yard. "J'y vais." I'll go, Jean-Marc says, and I watch my husband from the same window as he walks across the lawn to meet the officer.

Thirty-two seconds later, arms are flailing, jaws are clapping, and many furtive glances are being aimed at the new annex in the back yard. The men stand ant-like beneath the old cypress tree, nose-to-nose, communicating as only French men can. When the aerobic gesturing stops, the gesticulators storm toward the garage, stomping past the sleepy lavender patch, out of view.

I sit at my computer, now chewing nervously on the Belgian caramels that Jean-Marc brought back from his recent trip north. When the men return to the front gate (and back into view), I witness more wagging tongues, more jumping-jack arms. Finally, the policeman gets into his car and peels out of the driveway. "That's it," I think. "They've found something wrong with our building permit and now they're going to condemn the new garage!"

"What's going on?" I ask Jean-Marc, as soon as he returns.
"Rien. Tout va bien."*
"Everything is OK? It didn't look OK from here!"
"Everything is fine. The policeman measured the garage and found everything to be in order: the building is four meters from the property line on either side and not one centimeter larger than the 20 square meters accorded in the permit."
"I wonder what brought him out here, then?"
"I think it was a neighbor who called the police," Jean-Marc guesses.

I pause to wonder just which voisin* would call the police to tattle on us and, for a fleeting instant, I do not regret missing the annual apéro de quartier.*

Jean-Marc, as if reading my thoughts, says:
"De toute façon,* I'll soon know who did it."
"How are you going to find out who called the authorities?"
My husband's eyes narrow. "Je vais cuisiner le policier!"
"You're going to cook the policeman?"

Oh, my! That does not have a legal ring to it. But 'grill'* does...

le flic (m) = cop; Rien. Tout va bien. = Nothing. Everything is OK.; le voisin (la voisine) = neighbor; l'apéro de quartier = neighborhood cocktail (get-together); de toute façon = in any case; grill (or 'cuisiner' = to interrogate)

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

Listen: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French word cuisiner: Download cuisiner.wav

Verb conjugation: je cuisine, tu cuisines, il/elle cuisine, nous cuisinons, vous cuisinez, ils/elles cuisinent  => past participle: cuisiné

In books:
Ever read "Comment Cuisiner un Loup" by Mary Frances Kennedy? The book is better known as How to Cook a Wolf, the author, as M.F.K. Fisher.

The Cooking of Southwest France : Recipes from France's Magnificent Rustic Cuisine. "When it comes to French food, many Americans know little beyond the bistros of Paris or the herbs of Provence. But many of France's most delightful culinary traditions are to be found near (or nearish) the Pyrénées." --Publishers Weekly.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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