affolement & Recipe for Zucchini and Potato Gratin

Balcony in Nyons (c) Kristin Espinasse
I heart lonely chairs. More pictures of Nyons in an upcoming Cinéma Vérité.

affolement (ah-fol-maohn) noun, masculine

: panic, perturbation, unsteadiness

verb: affoler: to cause panic and s’affoler: to panic.

Sound file & Example Sentence Download MP3 or Download WAV

Pour l'instant, l'heure n'est pas à l'affolement.
Now's not the time to worry.



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

Affolement, it is the French word for panic—that feeling of s-p-i-n-n-i-n-g!

Part one of the wine harvest begins this week and the first team of harvesters are arriving e-a-r-l-y. And though I have been keeping notes (grocery lists and "choses à faire") it is impossible to pencil in the unexpected or l'imprévu, no matter how often my crayon hovers over the lists, trying to anticipate fate.

Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? are no longer a journalist's formula: these are the "askings" of an anxious organizer. As I jot down mind matter (all those pensées that prevent peace) I can't help but remember "the best made plans" and wonder whether these lists aren't partly in vain? De plus, I am learning that dotting the i's and crossing the t's of rigidity (there's that word again) only ever ends in flurry: Dame Chaos will invite herself to la fête so one might as well join in and get used to whim! (Never mind that I have scotch-taped myself into place, in preparation for a flurry of fate.)


In other, more important news, Jean-Marc, who, for the next month—and for the duration of the wine harvest—will be known as "Chief Grape," had a tiny run-in with fate: while readying his farm equipment he was stung (just over the eyebrow) by une guêpe! It is painful just looking at him and all that ballooning of skin.

I look into his eyes, one no bigger that a sliver:
"Does it hurt?" I ask, pushing aside my list.
"Non, c'est juste un peu gênant." No, it's just a little annoying, he replies.

And somehow his answer strikes... lines through my lists... taking all this "chaos" and putting it, somehow, right.


French Vocabulary

un affolement = panic

chose à faire = things to do (list)

imprévu (adj and n.m.) = unforeseen, unexpected

le crayon = pencil

la pensée = thought

de plus = what's more

la fête = party

la guêpe = wasp

    => learn a quirky tip, or une astuce about getting rid of guêpes, or wasps. Click here for the story "Uninvited Guests Guêpes"

non, c'est juste un peu gênant = no, it just a little annoying

A Day in a Dog's Life... by Smokey "R" Dokey


Today I get my staples and stitches removed! In anticipation of the event, I've "loosened"  a part of my cone (exhibit A, above. Notice the jagged plastic, next to my teeth!).


All in a day's work!

RECIPE: Gratin de Courgette & Pomme de Terre


Have I showed you a photo of my brother-in-law lately? He and his girlfriend came over yesterday. Mariem helped me put together a casserole for dinner as we sat at the kitchen table slicing zucchini and potatoes and chatting about "quick and easy harvest recipes!"

When the slicing was done, Mariem added a little olive oil to the glass baking dish and the two of us went about layering the vegetables, knocking hands as we worked.

We began with a layer of thinly-sliced potatoes, then a layer of zucchini... then salt and pepper and a tiny pouring of cream (we mixed store-bought béchamel + heavy cream, a.k.a. what was on hand.) Mariem's five-year-old boy joined in and I watched, awed, as the vegetables disappeared into the casserole dish. Finally, we topped the legumes with one last sprinkling of salt and pepper and the remains of the cream... then into the oven (150°C -- or 300°F) for one hour.

I had some garden fresh tomatoes on hand (a gift from my friend Houria) and we tossed those with olive oil (a gift from Alexis, who is back, joining us for this harvest) and parsley and salt and pepper. A light dinner or, as the French would say juste ce qu'il faut...

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