Leaves of Grass ... beyond which the village of Cairanne slumbers.

From the Big Grape to the Big Apple: meet us in NYC as we ditch these vines... in time to let you taste our wines! Jean-Marc and I are organizing two events: a book signing* & a wine tasting. (The tasting will be on April 16th from 4-7pm. I'll post the location soon!)

* Book signing at Crawford Doyle Booksellers: April 15th, from 4:00 to 6:00. RSVP here.

pépin (pay-pahn) noun, masculin
  seed, pip, grape-stone

sans pépin = seedless
Un pépin, in argot, is a mishap or "pétit problème". Did you know that you can also use the word pépin in place of "parapluie"?  (Zut ! Il pleut et j'ai oublié mon pépin!) Mille mercis to Corine T. for the example sentence!
Today's Quote:
Serrer trop fort le pressoir donne un vin qui sent le pépin.
Where the wine-press is hard wrought, it yields a harsh wine, that tastes of the grape-stone.
--Francis Bacon
                                          :: Audio File ::
Listen to the French word "pépin" and hear the French translation of the quote:
Download pepin.mp3 .
Download pepin.wav

Seedless grapes! Like Caesar salad,* Cheez Whiz, and corn tortillas, these plump and juicy raisins* "sans pépin" were partly responsible for the separation anxiety that I felt upon moving from Phoenix to France.

The French have anxieties of their own, mind you. One of them is waste. This is not a culture known for separating the wheat from the chaff. Instead, the French find a way, and not a waste, for everything. (Think Radish Leaf Soup.) So why should it have been so surprising to find their pips intact?

Of course French grapes would have pips! What a waste of French toothpicks if the French took the pips out of their grapes. I guessed Real French Men Didn't Eat Pipless Grapes, and left it at that. Years passed, with a lot of pips wedged between my own teeth as I slowly adapted to French culture and its crunchy cuisine.

Then, just the other day, while pushing the grocery cart past several stands of brightly-wrapped chocolate eggs, I saw a sign! "Raisins Sans Pépins". How things change! Giddily, I filled the child-seat of my cart with the wonder grapes.

Cheese has changed over the years, too. When I was a kid, you could spray cheddar from an aerosol can just like you could spray your new Farrah Fawcett hairdo to a concrete halt. Just "point and shoot" to up your calcium intake in one Americana instant. Those were the days.

I marvel at modernity, where French grapes have lost their pips and American cheese its "zip". Fast cheddar is a faux pas. "Slow food" is in--and it had better be raw! I'm delighted to think that Real French Men may now be eating seedless grapes, but I'd make a concrete blond bet that they'd draw the line at spray-on cheese... or fromage* that flies!

salad = (it's the romaine lettuce part that's hard to find!); le raisin (m) sans pépin (m) = seedless grape; le fromage (m) = cheese

Book: Thomas Jefferson on Wine: (seedless grapes, and more, inside the book)

Colorful "French words" metal bucket with wooden handle - practical and stylish. Great for the beach or for gardening!
Antique red stripe pot holder and matching dishtowel set with ABC sampler (hand embroidered) French import
Jesus of Montreal -- French language film about a theatre-loving priest who decides to commission a contemporary Passion Play. Nominated for the 1989 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Mini Oilive Oil and 2 Vinegars Gift Set: includes a delightful burlap and wooden sack containing a fig syrup, balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil.
Handy, pocket-size: Moleskine City Notebook - Paris

A Message from KristiFor twenty years now, support from readers like you has been an encouragement and a means to carve out a career in writing. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider a donation. Your gift keeps me going! Thank you very much.

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