gently, softly, slowly
--From the Norman dialect "pianopian". Perhaps from the Italian phrase "piano-piano". **Update: the word "plan-plan" ("laid-back"), though an adjective, may be the correct equivalent of "piano-piano"...
Les maçons désoeuvrés venaient par habitude tourner chaque jour autour des chantiers. Les mains dans les poches, chaussés de lourds sabots, ils arrivaient piane-piane... The unemployed masons had the habit of coming, each day, to hang around the work yards. Hands in the pockets, wearing heavy wooden clogs, they slowly arrived...
--from "Mémoires de la Société d'agriculture, commerce, sciences et arts" by Société d'agriculture, commerce, sciences et arts de la Marne
Imagine a vine-flanked country road beneath a sky full of clouds as fluffy as crème fouettée.* Now see a silver streak on the horizon, edging closer as our story unfolds. I recognize the car and, on closer look, that's Mr. Delhome behind the wheel. We could call him "le potier," but that would be incorrect. A potier is a potter--something Mr. Delhome is not, though he does putter, and occasionally toil, in his potager or "kitchen garden" (located across the street, beyond a field, and over the stream from his home--yet only ten meters from my own kitchen window).
But back to that silver streak, which is more like a smudge, for it would be an exaggeration to imply that Mr. Delhome drives fast. Neither face-paced or fast-tracked, his life might now be savored piane-piane,* like the slow-cooked vegetables from his garden.
When Mr. Delhome's car comes within a country block (or around a forty vine rows) of my own bagnole,* I send an excited appel de phare.* Monsieur responds by slowing his car and squinting his eyes. He soon comes to recognize "the woman from the kitchen window," who sometimes puts timidity aside to venture out and pick his venerable brain.
"I made the zucchini casserole!" I announce, rolling down my window.
(Monsieur looks confused.)
"...with the courgette* that you gave me the other day..."
"Oh!" he replies, brightening. "Would you like more zucchini?" With that, we each kill our car's motor, step out of our vehicles, and effectively block the one-lane country road.
Mr. Delhome flips the driver's seat forward and I see that there, in the back of his car near a dusty spare pneu,* are more newly picked vegetables.
"I was planning on feeding them to the chickens," he explains, "but they are getting fed up with the same ol' 'soup'. Here, you take them!"
The would-be fowl feed is transported from one car to the other, this to the extreme irritation of traffic, country traffic, that is (all of one car has had the misfortune of encountering the lazy loading zone). The sporty station wagon--beyond my back bumper, not far from where I am loading the chicken chow--is now honking impatiently.
"Qu'est-ce qu'il a, celui-là? What's his problem?" Mr. Delhome complains, only to poke his head back into his car and collect another zucchini or two. Mr. Delhome's nonchalance makes me nervous and I hope he will hurry and gather the produce so as not to keep the traffic waiting.
But Monsieur is neither in a hurry, nor affected by the impatient "traffic". As for the Hurried One, I suspect he needs a good home-cooked meal (to be scheduled into his fast-paced, fast-food life). Which brings me to my own hurries and worries--mostly imagined, though a daily struggle to overcome. The lesson is in those slow-cooked (and -constructed) zucchini casseroles that I've taken to putting together, piane-piane and like a prayer.
References: la crème (f) fouettée = whipped cream; piane-piane = slowly; la bagnole (f) = car; un faire un appel (m) de phares = to flash one's headlights or high beams; la courgette (f) = zucchini; le pneu (m) = tire
:: Audio File ::
Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce today's word and quote:
Piane-piane. Les maçons désoeuvrés venaient par habitude tourner chaque jour
autour des chantiers. Les mains dans les poches, chaussés de lourds sabots, ils arrivaient piane-piane...
MP3 file: Download piane-piane.mp3
Wave file: Download piane-piane.wav
Terms & expressions:
allez-y piane-piane = go gently, "easy does it"
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"Tune Up Your French"--the book includes tips on how to avoid taboos and common faux pas and is "the next best thing to a year abroad".
Moleskine City Notebook - Paris
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