tel quel


Three things about this photo... share what you see in the comments box, in French or in English.

The snow is melting here in Provence (update: *was* melting...), now if the fingers would thaw too--in time to finish this edition! (The heater in our house has gone awol--or awry? Aië aië aië!)

Today's word:

rebord (reuh-bohr) noun, masculine

    : rim; edge; border; ledge
    : hem (also "un ourlet")

[from the verb "reborder" to put a new border, edge, hem, to something]

Terms & Expressions
  le rebord de la fenêtre (l'appui de fenêtre) = the windowsill
  reborder quelqu'un dans son lit = to tuck someone back into bed

AUDIO FILE: turn up the sound and listen to my son pronounce the French word
"rebord" and the expressions, above: Download Rebord . Download Rebord

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Larchmont Village Wine & Spirits. 223 N. Larchmont Boulevard. Los Angeles CA. Tel : (323) 856 8699. Contact Simon at email :

I learned something new about my eleven-year-old yesterday--now if I can just figure out the French word for "unassuming" which is how, it turns out, my daughter can be, vis-à-vis an after-school treat.

We were in the car, about to head home from school, when Jackie overlooked two individually-wrapped brioches. Even the emballage*--which featured a buttery sweet roll teeming with pépites de chocolat*--didn't faze her!

When her hazel eyes finally locked onto the package, I noticed how my daughter didn't immediately pick it up and rip it open. Instead she fastened her seatbelt and talked about how things went in Histoire-Geo.* I guess she isn't going through pre-adolescence after all...

"Jackie, those are for you!" I said, pointing to the sugary goûter.*
"Ah, bon?"* she replied, perking up.

It's true, I don't usually buy packaged goûters, not when a baguette and peanut butter are just as convenient, not when an apple and a steaming mug of oatmeal and honey are on hand.

But I sometimes make exceptions to the over-processed-snacks rule -- as when I am running late to pick up the kids from school, this, because I've lingered too long in the canned-foods aisle at the grocery store. (It is always good to have conserves* on hand and to try something new, I reason--now, will we really eat those canned "cardons" if I buy them? Isn't there such a thing as "cardoon casserole" and doesn't my mother-in-law have a recipe for one?)

"But there are two..." Jackie said, picking up one of the brioches.
"All for you!" I assured her. "Max took the rest to basketball practice."
"Thanks! Sure you don't want one?" my daughter offered.

Noticing Jackie's excitement over such a small surprise, it occurred to me that I might have even more good news to share:

"I also bought TWO boxes of cereal!" I announced, citing her favorite sugar-laden brands. (This brings me to a grocery store enigma: Why is it that when hurrying to the checkout, we tend to chuck stuff, with abandon, into the cart?)

Realizing we now had friandises* at home, my daughter snapped backed to her old self, in time to complain about the cereal.
"Max ate almost the whole box last time! He says he is no longer on a diet, but "en pleine croissance."* That's just an excuse to drink all of the milk and eat all of the cereal! Not only that, but he always chooses the biggest bowl and fills it to the rim!

I allow my daughter to let off steam from a strict school day. Meantime, I file away yet another new vocabulary word from our French conversation (the term in question: "à rebord à ras bord" or "to the rim"). Next, I return to my daughter's rant, the theme being "unfairness".

"I can relate to such injustice," I sympathize. "For example, how is it that you speak French better than I do--when I've spoken French since before you were born?!"

With that, my daughter hands me the second brioche and, together, we throw our cares to (and over...) the brim.*

Comments...or corrections... welcome in the comments box. Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
un emballage (m) = packing, wrapping; les pépites (f) de chocolat = chocolate chips; l'histoire-geo = history/geography (class); le goûter (m) = snack, afternoon tea; ah, bon = oh, really; les conserves (f) = canned food; les friandises (f) = goodies; en pleine croissance = in the middle of a growth spurt; over the brim = par-dessus bord

Thank you "Newforest" and Odile, for your help with these terms and for the corrections. See their helpful comments in the comments box. And thanks again, Newforest, for these extra translations:

filled to the brim = (plein) jusqu'au bord or (plein) à ras bord, or (rempli) à ras bord

Faux Ami Alert!
Regarding the word conserve, now's a good time to point out a certain faux ami... One mistake we Anglophones often make, when talking about preservatives with the French, is in thinking that "preservative" means the same thing in their language. Not so! A préservatif is something one buys at the pharmacy or, here in France, on many a street corner (by putting coins into an automatic distributor).

A préservatif is not added to food during mass production, but envelopped in foil and sold to amorous types. Get out your dictionaries and look this word up... before waxing poetic about it to le garçon who is taking your order at the local bistro.

*Thanks to Dick Kahane for suggesting today's "Faux Ami Alert" and for the following info: the translation for preservative, in French, is un (agent) conservateur.

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