bévue
moue

écume

St_remy_provence
Random photo-du-jour taken in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

The Ultimate French Review and Practice: Mastering French Grammar for Confident Communication

écume (ay-koom) noun, feminine
  foam, scum

      Bavardage est écume sur l'eau, action est goutte d'or.
      Chat is foam on water; action is a drop of gold.

                                                       --Tibetan proverb
.

Column
While reading a book* demystifying the complexity of French cooking, a little étincelle* of hope appeared, like the spark at the end of the wand which lights our simple gas oven. But when hours before our lunch guests were to arrive I misplaced the cookbook, and with it the fastoche* instructions for pot-au-feu,*
that hopeful spark turned into a roaring pit and I into the pot above it!

An internet search revealed hundreds of recipes for pot-au-feu, one contradicting the next. "Place the beef into the pot then cover with cold water..." one site instructed. Another insisted I add the meat to *boiling* water, to seal in flavor. A third recipe recommended putting the vegetables (navets,* choux,* carrots, poireaux,* and onions) in first, before the meat... and a fourth cautioned cooking them separately....

I put a stop to the confusion by remembering an old French dictum: "Trop de cuisiniers gâtent la sauce".* Next, I rolled up my sleeves and went to work (first boiling the meat, careful to tuck a few bay leaves and a sprig of thyme in between; next, I added the vegetables).

Three hours later I realized that the hardest part about making pot-au-feu is getting the beefy scum out of the pot (and that part's easy!). "De-scumming" (or "unscumming"?) requires time and a special "twist of the wrist" (so as to avoid coating one's kitchen walls when flicking froth from pot to poubelle).*

The pot-au-feu turned out nicely. Now to skim the carreaux de cuisine*...

                                          *     *     *
Post note: While cleaning the clove-scented kitchen (from the stewed onions which were stabbed with the aromatic spice), I came across my mother-in-law's recipe for French beef stew. I'm still smacking myself on the head. When the head-throbbing stops, I'll see about posting her recipe.


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References: book: "Recipes from the French Wine Harvest"; une étincelle (f) = spark; fastoche = (slang) easy; le pot-au-feu (m) = boiled beef with vegetables; le navet (m) = turnip; le chou (m) = cabbage; le poireau (m) = leek; Trop de cuisiniers gâtent la sauce = Too many cooks spoil the sauce;
la poubelle = garbage can; le carreau (m) de cuisine = kitchen tile

La Bonne Cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange: The Original Companion for French Home Cooking

:: Audio File :: 
Écume. Bavardage est écume sur l'eau, action est goutte d'or.
MP3 file: Download ecume.mp3
Wave file: Download ecume.wav

Shopping:
In music: A French Christmas
In Film: Paris Je T'aime: Stories of Love. From the City of Love.

Terms & Expressions:
  écumeux, écumeuse = foamy, frothy
  écumer =  to skim; to take the scum off
  écumer les mers = to scour the seas
  écumer (de rage) = to foam, froth at the mouth
  un cheval qui écume = foaming horse
  l'écume de la société = the scum, dregs of society
  une écumoire = skimmer, skimming ladle
  une écumeur littéraire = a plagiarist

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