Jackie. This is my daughter and she tells the best stories, just like her grand-mère, Jules. (photo taken in 2010)

"It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horse, the leaves, the wind, the words that my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes."

-Gustave Flaubert (thanks to Jim Fergus for sending me this favorite quote!)

le beurre (bur) noun, masculine

    : butter

Please jump right in and share your butter/"beurre" terms and expressions here. I'll begin...

beurré(e) = plastered
avoir un oeil au beurre noir = to have a black eye
le beurre de cacahouètes = peanut butter
(your turn. Get out your dictionary then click here and share beurre terms and idioms)

Audio File : Listen to the following sentence: Download MP3 or Download Wav

Il était une fois un philosophe qui aimait les jeux de mots. Il appelait, par exemple, le butterfly: le beurre qui vole. (translation below)

A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

(On the Origins of Flying Butter)
This morning my daughter scrubbed down, head to toes, with Betadine. Next, she said she was hungry but did not eat, nor did she drink so much as a drop of water.

We were running late to the Clinic de Provence after Jackie took extra care with her hair, blow drying it, straightening it, exercising all her control over it. Finally she shut off the sèche-cheveux, and voiced her little heart out: "J'ai peur, Maman."

"Did you take off all of your nail polish and jewelry?" the nurse quizzed.

"Oui," Jackie replied. Next, my 12-year-old was given a pill that made her eyes droop until she turned over in the hospital bed, from her back onto her side.

I wanted to brush my hands across her face, but wondered about the iodine/detergent surgical scrub that she had showered with earlier. Would I just be putting germs back on her face? My hand reached for her hair, instead.

"Can you remind me of the story you told me last night?" I asked my girl. "About the butterfly...."

My daughter nodded her sleepy head and said...

Il était une fois un philosophe qui aimait les jeux de mots.... Il adorait aussi les butterflies dont il renommé "Le Beurre Qui Vole"...

Once upon a time there was a philosopher who loved to play with words. He also loved butterflies which he renamed "flying butters"...

As Jackie told me her story my mind wandered back to the simple surgery: only two teeth to remove. But why the need for an anesthesiologist? Why put her completely to sleep—was it necessary? Couldn't we have waited for the teeth to grow and push past the gums before having them extracted?

The door to room 103 burst open and two infirmières collected my daughter, as one collects an umbrella while rushing out the door, late for work. I wanted to shout "be careful!" Instead, I stepped out of the nurses' way.

As the gurney careened down the hallway on the way to the bloc opératoire, I overheard one of the nurses assure my daughter, "Ce n'est rien". Just a little operation. With that the trio disappeared into a sterile chamber.

As I stood there staring at the empty hall, a little old man in a bathrobe hobbled by, slowly, softly, like a butterfly.

Butterfly in france


French Demystified...simple enough for a beginner but challenging enough for a more advanced student.

I Know How To Cook The bible of French home cooking, Je Sais Cuisiner, has sold over 6 million copies since it was first published in 1932. It is a household must-have, and a well-thumbed copy can be found in kitchens throughout France. Its author, Ginette Mathiot, published more than 30 recipe books in her lifetime, and this is her magnum opus. It's now available for the first time in English as I Know How to Cook. With more than 1,400 easy-to-follow recipes for every occasion, it is an authoritative compendium of every classic French dish, from croque monsieur to cassoulet.


Still itching for stories from France? You will ADORE Lynn McBride's blog It’s called Southern Fried French ( and it’s about living the good life at the 14th century Château de Balleure, with her friends  and chatelains Nicole and Pierre.


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Papa poule

Jackie is still in surgury room at this point. Her Papa is waiting for her arrival in her room.

Kristin Espinasse

Merci Papa Poule. Please give her a kiss and let her know I shared her story.

Gary Atkinson

A long-time favorite of mine: "Ca met toujours un peu de beurre dans les epinards." (It provides a little extra cash.)

Bill in St. Paul

Ah, how our children grow up before our eyes and yet we have a hard time letting go of our vision of them as "children" in the literal sense. Jackie is obviously no longer a child but a beautiful, young lady.

I always have a hard time when in French I talk about nos enfants when ils ont trente-cinq ans et trente-deux ans - hardly children, but yet enfants.

Ophelia in Nashville

What a touching story. I hope Jackie heals very quickly! Your story brought back the memory of our older son's first operation at age 4. And I love the photo of the bougies. Will send thoughts of healing her way today.

And to Bill -- We still refer to our "boys" age 27 and 31 in English much less French. Am working on it....

Christine Dashper

Thank you Krisitn for sharing this. I am wishing Jackie a speedy recovery and hopefully little, or better still no pain! I know she will receive lots of pampering from mom!

Love the Flaubert quote, thanks for that too.

warmest wishes


Lynne, near Perpignan

My husband speaks very little French. One of the first sentences he learned to say was, "Avez-vous du beurre, s'il vous plait?" In restaurants here, the bread is always served dry (except at breakfast) and being an American, my hubby loves butter on his bread. We are finding that he is most successful learning practical words and phrases. The VERY first phrase that he spoke in public was, "un verre de vin rouge, s'il vous plait." Very practical fellow. :o)


Much love to Jackie and her parents. Thinking about her.

Diane Dainis

Jackie will heal very quickly, so have no fear Mom and Dad. Kids are so resilient.
I will be heading for France with my family in June and will definitely be using the word beurre to go along with baguette! Good luck.
Diane D.


Several years ago I re-read (in French this time I'm pleased to say) Madame Bovary. The most memorable piece of writing, qua writing, in the novel and indeed some of the most remarkable writing I've ever read, is the excerpt that Flaubert refers to in the quote at the beginning of your post. The quote is good - the passage that Flaubert wrote in M.B. is superb.


I wish Jackie a speedy recovery. And I know as a mother that no matter the age of our children we worry over them. It's like they say, children hold our hand for a while and our hearts forever.


Shannon, Alexandria, VA

I really loved your post today, Kristin. It's so crystal clear how much you love your children. And no kidding, when I first opened your email, before scrolling down, for a brief second, I thought it was a picture of you. :)

Leslie in Massachusetts

Prompt rétablissment à Jackie. And I have to say how beautiful she is in the candlelit church photo.

Julie F

My thoughts are with you, Kristin, because I know that Jackie will be fine. Maman not so fine until it's over.

My histoire de buerre: In the supermarket I always see salted and unsalted butter, but pick the salted. I thought the unsalted was just for people watching their blood pressure or something. Then last summer when I was in Paris, my friends took me to a bbq at the home of their friend, Jean Claude (drummer for the French group, Les Vinyls Forgive the plug -- they are a lot of fun). As they set the table to eat, Jean Claude ran back into the kitchen and shortly returned with a small plate with a tiny amount of butter on it, separate from the larger plate already on the table. He presented it to me, and Martine translated that this was the butter with salt -- pour l'Américaine -- because he knew Americans always eat salted butter, although the French rarely do. Quelle hospitalité française pour un étranger!

Marianne Rankin

Jackie, mon fils a eu la meme operation a presque le meme age, et il s'est vite retabli. Je vous souhaite le meme. Nous serons toujours prets a lire vos histoires comme celle du "beurre qui vole," et autres avec les jeux de mots.

Kristin, my son Will's first operation, well before tooth extraction, was ear surgery at 19 months, with general anesthesia. Scary! It's normal to worry, but that shows we care.

I guess French doctors are more germ-conscious than American ones, because Will's extractions were done in a dental surgeon's office, not a hospital, and he didn't have to scrub all over with Betadine.

Herm Meyer

Today's word "beurre" brings to mind the English word "buttercup"...... la petite fleur avec cinq pédales.

Also the phrase, "to butter up" someone which I think means to make a person feel good usually before asking a favor of the person.

À bientôt,

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Lisa, Montclair, NJ

Hi Kristin,
Many years ago, when I was Jackie's age, I too had a couple of teeth extracted from under the gum under general anesthetic. I remember what helped me heal quickly was ice cream and jelly (jello?) and also my mum doing soft boiled eggs for me, which were accompanied by little strips of heavily buttered (and therefore soft and chewy) toast (we called them "soldiers") which she had lovingly cut up for me to dunk into the eggs. Best wishes to Jackie for a speedy recovery!

Colette, Ottawa, Canada

Merci Kristin, pour votre petit histoire. C'était très touchant! :-)


Kristen--I know that Jackie will be fine soon. It's good to get those teeth out early in life.
As for "butter" expressions---how about "c"'est du beurre" meaning it's easy (kind of like "it's a piece of cake" or "easy as pie" en anglais. Come to think of it, why are all these expressions so fatty and caloric?


Best wishes to Jackie (and to Mom and Dad!) with the recovery from her surgery! It will be good to have her back in your arms again, even as grown as she is!

Great quote, too!

Jeanne Robinson

Dearest Kristin,

My heart goes out to you, dear young mother, as you hand your child over to the care of another, even if only briefly. My son, at age 6-weeks, was hospitalized, near death. I was forced to look at him only through a glass for 7 days until he was once again placed in my arms. Now a healthy 42-year-old former Marine, nonetheless your brief post brought me back to the heart-wrenching angst of that day. Prayers going your way.

Your friend Jeanne


It is good she is having these teeth out now. I had my "wisdom" teeth extracted at age 38 and I was in braces at the time. Thank goodness I only had 2 teeth that had to come out. Now I have perfect straight teeth and I am often complimented on my smile. Mashed potatoes avec beurre was on the menu for a few weeks until everything healed. She will recovery quickly and can look forward to the day the braces come off.


I hope everything went well today! As a mother I certainly can relate to the anxiety that one feels when a child is undergoing any kind of procedure. It's always a relief when it's all over and they are safely back at your side.

Speedy recovery to Jackie! In that picture she looks so much like you- just beautiful!


I hope all goes well with Jackie. My children and I have all had to have this surgery. All was well within the week. We hope Jackie will do as well. And, she has become a beautiful butterfly herself. Such a lovely face.


I hope everything went well with Jackie! My daughter Tara will go in soon for four wisdom teeth. I love the photo of Jackie!

Betty Bailey

beurre demi-sel (slightly salted?), compter pour du beurre (count for nothing), faire son beurre (to make one's pile), beurré (buttered), plaque de beurre (a pad of butter), beurre noisette (browned butter)

J'aime beaucoup de beurre noisette. Or would it be: J'aime le beurre bruni.?

Délicieux......le beurre! Whatever .....:-)

Your daughter is lovely and growing up so fast, as is my granddaughter who is 14. Best wishes to her and to your family.

dorothy dufour

Yes I thought also that the photo of Jackie was you. Quelle belle fille! My granddaughter recently had 4 wisdom teeth removed - we thought she would be "out" but no, they were extracted with local anaesthetic, and she made a swift recovery. She is now 18. How fast they grow!

I loved the idea that butter flies. I do love butter, but shouldn't because of high blood pressure. I'll try the unsalted.

Please note that my email address has changed, due to the death at 90 of my husband. He had Alzheimers although that
was not the cause; it was a kidney infection.

I love FWAD and the way you share your family.


Kristin, OMG Jackie looks like your twin! She is turning into a true beauty!

Blessings for her swift recovery, and blessings of comfort for her parents!


sandy, San Antonio, TX

Herm Meyer

Another "butter" related word is buttermilk. This brings to mind the western song "Old Buttermilk Sky" which is a sky filled with small white clouds.

Kristen, I bet you could write a whole papagraph picturing the thought behind the words of that song.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Kristin Espinasse

Chère Dorothy,

Merci beaucoup for your notes about family; the family that makes up this blog, that is, all the people reading here, join together in sending heartfelt condoleances to you -- and big hugs too. With love.

P.S.: Jackie is doing very well. She was very scared when her eyes began to blur and when her breathing became so strained she felt she could not breathe (while being put to sleep!). Next time I will ask the doctor to let us know what to expect when going under.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Beautiful story! So very graceful and clever you are with words and it seems your daughter is too. I absolutely love the Flaubert quote…as I do the flying butters!

I wish for Jackie to be chasing those “butters” again soon. Outside my window the tree is filled with Goldfinches which remind me of flying daffodils. God-speed to her healing!

Jules Greer

Herm - was your Dad Dr. and Lil Meyers?

Herm Meyer

Jules - No, I'm originally from Northern Illinois and My Dad's name was also Herman

Jules Greer

Darling Jackie,

You are lots of ice cream.




Lots of lovely get well soon wishes to a little girl we've yet to meet...... Happy Mother's Day Kristi....Loretta


Oh this is such a lovely story with stories slipping within...Jackie your words are as lovely as your mothers! I love the twist of butterflies to "flying butters"....I will let that one just flutter by!


Que préférez-vous? La cuisine à l'huile, ou la cuisine au beurre?
Le beurre de cacao est très utile pour soigner les lèvres gercées.
Petit-beurre: biscuit
Buttermilk: lait battu.
Buttercup: renoncule ou bouton d'or (cinq pétales rather than cinq pédales!)
Question: do pigs and butter "fly" together?

Iris Mendels

Hello Kristin; This is my first comment. When my daughter was 9 or ten, we were living in Lyon, (around1981) she had to go to hospital to have her tonsils (amidons) out. It was quite frightening for her and for me, but I was able to stay in her room at the hospital over night; a great relief. She thought she would get icecream the next day, as in America, but she was brought Yaourt...quelle deception.
One of my favorite play on words, or franglais, is "confiture de trafic", for traffic jam. Something that goes smoothly, comme du beurre.
Iris from the North Bay, California

jan greene

Such a loving family. Your dear girl will heal quickly and soon will forget this trauma.
We are off to Paris on Saturday! Finally!


Vouloir du beurre et l'argent du beurre" = To want to have one's cake and eat it too.


How blessed Jackie is to have her maman nearby when she had her oral surgery. When I had my oral surgery, my maman was in another state. Although I was an adult at the time, we are all children when we are sick! I know Jackie will recover quickly because she has such loving parents to care for her, especially her maman!

karen mckeon wilson

What a beautiful photo, I thought too, 'is that Kristin?, till I read it was your daughter. I do hope she is now healing and at home.Love and healing thoughts to her and to you and your family. I love that quote, it makes me want to write. Karen

la voisine

Quelle jolie histoire <3


When I was staying with a Swiss family, the mother (who had been to America) served us Corn on the Cob. She said that it was for us Americans. There were two problems: it was not sweet corn, it was over-ripe feed corn, but we buttered it well. When I asked one of the Swiss girls to "Please pass me the salt" she shook her head and said "The butter already has salt in it"! I was dismayed, but bravely ate the cob of corn and looked for dessert!


I hope your daughter's surgery went well. I remember the day I had the same procedure done on 4 wisdom teeth. It is hard to see your child have a procedure done....they look so helpless.

Butter, so bad for you, but the key ingredient in so many foods, especially French dishes. I love the way in blends to finish a sauce.

Have a wonderful weekend!! I ordered our passports today...only 2 mnts to go, and we will be over there. Hopefully the volcano will not hinder the flight.


I do so hope your lovely daughter is well soon. We share a name...
I enjoy these words very much and look forward to them.

Jan in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada)

In Canada, all food must be labelled in English AND French. Even people who can only speak English get used to the (Quebec) French word for each food item because we see it on the "back" of the label. Then when we go to France we find ourselves turning the can or jar around to see the back, thinking that the English version will be there. I get caught every time. The Quebecois French term for peanut butter is beurre d'arachide.

Jackie will probably recover quite quickly, but be sure she doesn't drink from a straw or rinse her mouth too vigorously because "dry socket" can result if the blood clot is disturbed before healing begins.

I love FWAD. I've been reading it for years but I've never added a comment. I'm off to France again in July -- I can't wait!


Chère Jackie,

Je suis bien en retard pour te souhaiter une opération sans souci.
J'ose croire que maintenant, l'extraction des deux dents n'est plus qu'un mauvais souvenir pour toi.
Bonne journée,

PS I love the idea of 'flying butter'! I must try to find a few words like that. What about?....

**Forget-me-nots -> "Ne m'oubliez pas! ("les Myosotis")
**Bluebells -> "Clochettes bleues"...
which reminds me of 'Moluccellas' also called **Bells of Ireland -> "Clochettes d'Irlande" (Aha! the flowers are... green!.. it's true!)

Is the charming **Labybird ("coccinelle") -> the famous 'Lady Bird'? "la Dame Oiseau"?

What about the weed called **Shepherd's Purse?
but also called:
Shepherd's Bag, Lady's Purse, Pick Pocket, Pick-Purse, Witches'Pouches, Rattle Pouches, Sanguinary, Shepherd's Heart, Shovelweed, Pepper-and-Salt, Chinese cress...

In French, it's called:
Bourse à berger, Bourse de pasteur, Bourse à Judas, Bourse de curé, Coeur de curé, Herbe du coeur, Moutarde de Mithridate, Moutarde sauvage, Sanguinaire .....

I needed help to get the lists in both languages! Great fun! These weeds grow very easily in my garden... and they must grow in yours too, Kristin. If not, you could ask that charming and very knowledgeable Monsieur Farjon about them. I hope he is still around to distribute his knowledge and love of plants.

Now, a very charming flower specially for you Kristin. **Nigella damascena, Nigella from Damas. In French, Nigelle de Damas.The common name in English is most attractive and you'll love it.
Main colour of the flowers: blue, but a few are white, or pink.
In French, les Nigelles de Damas are sometimes called: "CHEVEUX DE VÉNUS". Lovely, but I prefer "L'amour dans la brume"...
Here is a link, in French:


can't help smiling...when our son had wisdom teeth extracted in hospital...we found him with 2 cotton rolls sticking out of his mouth...he looked like a cockroach...He gave me a vaguely, sleepy, worried look when I burst out laughing.

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