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Entries from November 2007

moue

Moue
When French skies pout.

la moue (mooh) noun, feminine
  a pout, grimace; a pulled face


...quelquefois...mon esprit joue, et quelquefois je ris et fais la moue... ...sometimes...my mind plays, and sometimes I laugh and pull a face...
                              --from "Oeuvres de Scarron," by Paul Scarron

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Column
Long lines at the autoroute* toll booth make for great people watching! While my backseat passengers are bored by the wait, I find it fun to peer into the seat-belted salons* of strangers.

To my left, I see a puff of white hair advancing in the fast lane. Freckled hands grip the steering wheel. I wonder, will I have the courage to conduire* when I'm nearing ninety? Who knows...and who knows where our daring driver is headed. I like to think she's on her way to Monte Carlo; fed up with her bridge partners, she's going to hit the slot machines!

Next, my eyes travel over to the right lane where I see a woman pouting. "Elle fait la moue," the bored ones in the backseat comment. Turns out my daughter Jackie and her friend Manu are people watching too!

"Maintenant elle rigole! She's laughing now!" the girls report, forgetting boredom. Pouting...laughing...That's odd. I look over to the little black car, but the driver isn't cracking up as the girls said she was. She is blank faced...except for....what's that?  A little quiver at the side of her lip. She must be lunatique.*

"Elle fait les grimaces!" She's making faces! The girls giggle. I look over again, in time to witness the woman's hands dropping to her sides, a serious look returning to her face, comme si de rien n'était.* Her hands were fanned out beside her temples, the girls tell me, and, fingers wiggling, she was
making elephant ears!

Amused, I take a closer look at our middle-aged motorway mime. Her impeccable coiffure--short, severe, every stiff strand in place--conceals her inner comedian. It is those dangling earrings that betray her: swooping and free, and she, a colorful commuter turning my girls' boredom to glee.


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References: une autoroute (f) = motorway; le salon (m) = lounge, living room; conduire = to drive; lunatique = temperamental;  comme si de rien n'était = as if nothing happened

     Drive Around Languedoc and Southwest France: Your guide to great drives


:: Audio File ::
Hear Jean-Marc pronounce the French word "moue" and today's quote:
La moue...quelquefois...mon esprit joue, et quelquefois je ris et fais la moue...
Download moue.mp3
Download moue.wav

Shopping:
Top 10 Ways to Improve Your Spoken French
Learn French in a Hurry: Grasp the Basics of Français Tout De Suite
In Music: The Singing Nun by Soeur Sourire
Learn French at home with language software


Terms & Expressions:
  faire la moue = to pull a face, to pout
  faire la moue à quelqu'un = to make a face at someone

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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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
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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:
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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

Has a friend forwarded you this post? Receive your own FREE subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here

Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle



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