Quenottes and mots (Words book-signing) at Crawford Doyle Booksellers. Photo by Nancy Caswell, here with Fred.

quenotte (kuh-nowt) noun, feminine
  tooth, toothy-peg

The French word quenotte is used in "le langage enfantin" or kiddy talk. Kid-at-heart adults seem to use it too... Read on:

Sa figure était une pomme rouge, un bouton de pivoine prêt à fleurir, et là-dedans s'ouvraient, en haut, deux yeux noirs magnifiques, ombragés de grands cils épais qui mettaient une ombre dedans; en bas, une bouche charmante, étroite, humide pour le baiser, meublée de quenottes luisantes et microscopiques.

Her face was a red apple, a peony bud ready to bloom; and in it there opened, high up, two magnificent dark eyes, shaded by great thick lashes that cast a shadow on them; lower down, a charming mouth, small, moist for kissing, furnished with lustrous, little microscopic teeth.

From the book Best Short Stories (Dual-Language): Included are "La Parure," "Mademoiselle Fifi," "La Maison Tellier," "La Ficelle," "Miss Harriet," "Boule de Suif" and "Le Horla," all reflecting Maupassant's intimate familiarity with Paris and the universality of his creations.

Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the French word "quenotte" and the text, above:

Download quenotte.mp3.Download quenotte.wav

After our daughter talked us into adopting "une plante carnivore,"* or flesh-eating flora, it was our son's turn to beg for a petrifying plant. For Max, that meant a quartet of cacti.

At the pépinière,* we settled on four pokey, piquant, prickly, and pin-topped plants. Next, I informed Max that it was my turn to shop (seeing the nursery had a homey section at the back of the store....).

While admiring the vintage clocks and embroidered blankets, I remembered that I was in the market for a gift not for myself, but for someone else. A little someone else, or soon-to-be someone else, that is.

I was surprised to see "newborn" items on display but, then again, we *were* in a "nursery"... of sorts. Noticing a small hand-painted box with the words "Boîte à Quenottes"* etched across the top, I thought I'd stumbled onto the most original present. A tooth box! But just when my enthusiasm had reached its peak, doubt set in.

As I examined the inside of the wooden box, marveling at all the "little caves" in which one could set fallen teeth for display, a thought struck me: What if the tooth-box idea was more than original... what if it was downright ODD? Next, a line of self-questioning began along with the realization that what I would be offering, in effect, was a box for lost body parts!

Perhaps, I questioned, a lost tooth is best left that way: LOST, and not laid down in a wooden box for viewing? What might the gift recipient think, on opening the box only to find a multi-cavitied cemetery for incisors?

Returning the baby tooth box to the shelf, I had to ask myself: What WERE you thinking? But before I could think too much further, I ran out of the store, a toothy grin following me (my son, delighted with his prickly purchase), to the comfort and "normalcy" of home: save a flesh-eating plant, and a kooky quartet of cacti.

une plante (f) carnivore = carnivorous plant (in our home that'd be a "Venus Fly Trap"!); une pépinière (f) = nursery; une boîte (f) à quenottes = tooth box

Get your own Venus Fly Trap or "Carnivorous - Dionaea"


Eau De Botot - The worlds first mouthwash invented in 1755 by Dr. Julien Botot for Louis XV of France. Recognized by the Royal Society of Medicine as a Superior Natural Product. Made in France. Directions: add a few drops to small glass of warm water. gargle and Rinse Mouth.

Hotel de Paris coir doormat

French posters: "Pate Dentrifice du Docteur Pierre" & "Eau de Botot"
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

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