Canon: How to compliment a French Woman


petit bateau pointu (c) Kristin Espinasse

le badinage (bah dee nazh)

    : bantering, repartee

Also: badin, badine (adj: lighthearted, playful) and badiner (to banter, to jest)

sur un ton de badinage = in a bantering, or jesting, tone
Je ne badine pas! = I'm not joking! 

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words: (Download MP3 or Wav file)

Le badinage ou la taquinerie - c'est bon pour la santé!
Bantering and teasing - it's good for one's health! 


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The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris

“One of the smartest nonfiction titles for summer reading ... Baxter tracks both the city’s history and the many celebrated figures who have savored the art of walking in one of the world’s most beautiful capitals.” (Christian Science Monitor ). See the reviews, and order the book here.


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

Le Badinage Prolongs Life!

My mother, my son, and I are sitting in la salle d'attente. Mom needs a refill on her medication, Max needs a refill on his prescriptions for asthma and allergies, and I need a booster shot. Doubtful, I open my purse and root through its contents, checking to make sure that I have brought along with me the vaccine. In France, one brings one's pre-filled syringe (sealed and packaged) with one to the doctor - a requirement that still seems outlandish to me. 

Next, I reach up and pat my arm to make sure the EMLA patch (which looks like a big Band-Aid with a creamy, medicated disk in the center) is working. Poking again and again at the patch, I am uncertain. "Strange... my arm doesn't feel numb..." I say to my mom.

I notice that rascally gleam in Mom's eyes that tells me she is about to take this latest whinging -- and run with it. And all it takes is an emphatic "PFFFFT!" for me to understand her feelings about the prissy patch. After having two breasts removed (one in France, the other in Mexico) and a steel plate put into her leg, Jules is not going to let me get away with fretting over a mamsy-pamsy piqûre. Indeed, the woman who pulled out her own troubled tooth while deep in the jungle of Mexico is not going to give too much sympathy to her over-protected daughter.

In my defense I point out that it was the doctor who offered to prescribe the numbing patch, that it wasn't anything I requested. But any explanations were met with rolled eyes and another exclamatory "PFFFT!".
Witnessing the taquinerie between his mother and his grand-mère cherie, Max lights up, always game to join in and pull my leg. Only, this time, he shifts his attention to his grandmother, who is ever ready to join him in another round of plaisanteries.

I listen to the two spar, giggle, and poke each other and when the playfulness gets a little disruptive, I butt in--

"Hey, watch the plants! You'll knock them over!" and "Max! Put that chair down!"

My attempt at controlling the grandmother-grandson duo is met with more Pfffts! and more clucks of the tongues as the two look at me beady-eyed and cynically - only to resume their bantering.

Mom grabs a revue from the stack of magazines and paddles Max with it. Max responds by running circles around Jules until she is dizzy with laughter. (Thank goodness nobody else is around.)

Their voices rise and I am obliged to give another warning or two:

"Shhhh! There are patients in the doctor's office. Max, baisse le ton. Mom, keep it down! The doctor is never going to give you your anxiety medication, Mom, if she sees you are THIS GIDDY!"

Only, it's too late, the door to the doctor's room swings opens and out walks a confused duo: doctor and patient.

The patient exits cautiously... and I stand to greet the doctor. I introduce my mother and quickly offer an apology for all the racket.

The doctor studies our family (two grinning faces and one sour gueule) and gives her diagnosis -- only mania is not the conclusion.

Lui, the doctor explains, pointing to Max, il est en train d'ajouter des jours à la vie de votre maman.

Noticing my dear mom, who was glowing with youthful entrain, I could not argue with the doctor.


French Vocabulary

la salle d'attente = waiting room

un appareil photo = camera

EMLA patch = a dermal anaesthetic in the form of a medicated, cream-filled patch that numbs the skin prior to a shot

une piqûre = injection, shot

la taquinerie = teasing

baisse le ton = lower your voice 

la gueule = face

Lui, il est en train d'ajouter des jours à la vie de votre maman. = He is adding days to your mother's life.

l'entrain (m) = spirit, liveliness (and "avec entrain" = with gusto)

The book I took with me, and enjoyed, on break last week. And my little carnet for jotting down vocabulary, stories, recipes, uplifting words and more! Re My Antonia, by Willa Cather: the writing, especially the descriptions of the countryside in Nebraska, is beautiful. For those of you who need a page-turner with a plot, this isn't it. For those looking who enjoy pastoral writing and a little history, give this book a try. Several anecdotes within the book were eye-opening and I enjoyed the botanical and culinary notes which are scattered throughout. Thanks to those in the "Nebraska Invasion" group*, who gifted me this and another book. *Anne & Lang Anderson; Vikki & Terry Ferris; Steve & Teresa Plamann; and Doug Richard

Check out the latest prices for Kindle, click here and consider ordering today! Your purchase helps support this free language journal. Merci beaucoup!

cheese and mint quiche tart menthe chevre
Those goat cheese and mint tarts I told you about in a previous story... Want to make one? Just take fresh goat cheese (or the log-shaped version found here in France), cut in slices and place in the bottom of the tart. Next, add plenty of mint leaves. In a bowl, beat two or three eggs and sour cream (or liquid cream). Add salt, pepper, and herbs (thyme, rosemary...). For extra goodness, sprinkle on some gruyère. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes (not sure about temperature...) The pie crust is store-bought (it unrolls and voilà--is ready to go!). Update: I forgot to mention toasted, sliced almonds! Throw some of these onto the tart, too!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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


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I love this story, Kristin! Thank you for a sweet reminder that giggles are good for us.

My Antonia is one of my favorite books (I also love Song of the Lark).

Finally, your goat cheese tarts are gorgeous! I can't wait to try your recipe.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Ann. Mom read and ADORED your book while she was here. She brought it up again and again!

Kristin Espinasse

P.S.: I forgot to mention the toasted almonds! Throw a handful of those onto the tart, too!

Denise Givens

Kristin, as always, your stories are great to brighten one's day! Today's is a good reminder to always try to laugh. I identified with your Wednesday story so much - having French family who always look so perfectly put together and working for a company based in Paris so spending lots of time in the city, I often find myself feeling like I just don't measure up. Your readers encouragement to just be yourself is a great reminder and one that I must always try to remember! Bon weekend to you!

I agree with Ann, the tarts look beautiful - too bad my husband won't eat goat cheese!


Christine Dashper

This is a great story Kristin. Thanks too for the tart recipe. It might be the middle of winter here but I'm going to give that one a go. Just the inspiration I need!


Jules is such an example--what an attitude. Have a wonderful week-end full of laughter and love. Mary

Maary-Anne Helms

Badinage is one of those French words used in English as well. Once while in France, a firend and I started compiling a list of words used in both languages. It is amazing
how many there are even eliminating such modern adoptions by the French as le week-end!

Loved this story...you can just feel the love in your family. And I am in your mother's camp, why do you need a numbing patch? We just always got jabbed au naturel!!!

Reminds me of the friend (much younger) who could only have one ear pierced per visit!!!

I will refrain from wondering if we are raising a bunch of softies!!!!!!

Definately will try your tart..love mint.


love the word badinage....

Lisa@ Tarte du Jour

Your story warms my heart! How blessed those two are to have such a special bond. Your writings always make me reflect on my own blessings as well... my mother and my son shared such a special bond as you described.

On to the tarts... Wow, they looks delicious! I have a pot in my garden bursting with mint and that mint needs a purpose. I'm going to try this delicious looking combination of goat cheese and mint. Thanks!

Jeanne of Maumee, OH

I love the recipe and want to make it now but it will have to wait till after our 10 day vacation. I love your Mom's antics at the drs. office. I am always being sushed by someone so I know her spirit!

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I only have a second today, but I just had to say how much I loved what the doctor said. It is definitely something we should all remember. Bonne week-end, Kristin.


Hi Kristin,

--> "une plaisanterie" from verb plaisanter + ie.
Spelling: "une plai-san-tE-rie.
Some people may not pronounce the "E" in the third syllable but the mute "e" (here, blown away...?) should return where it belongs.

--> I love the word "badiner". It means "plaisanter"/ "blaguer", taquiner (to joke, to tease) very light-heartedly. There is so much 'playfulness' in "le badinage"!
To me, "badiner" has a charming French 18th century flavour -> Marivaux (French dramatist) added some gallantry to it. In 18th century music, (une) "badinerie" was a quick and light movement in a piece of baroque music...
A lovely musical illustration of the word is found in "badinerie" from Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor.
In this "Suite", "Badinerie' follows "Menuet". Wonderful to listen to the 7 parts of the whole 'Orchestral Suite'... The link below will lead you to the "badinerie" movement.

Enjoy the music!


By the way, I can't believe you need a 'numbing patch'!
An injection may be a bit unpleasant but it isn't that painful at all! Your doctor might have the impression you are extremely "douillette"! Allez allez! It's all in your mind. Tell him next time you can do without a numbing patch!

Dear Jules, hope your 'anxiety' will gradually sort itself out without medication. Who knows? Hope you had a great holiday with all the family.


Hello again!

just thought of the 19th century play by Musset
-> "On ne badine pas avec l'amour"

decided to turn my attention to...
->the art of Cooking! I mean -> to the lovely recipe for that delicious looking "Tarte chèvre et menthe"!

Question time:
Kristin, you didn't say whether you used "pâte feuilletée"? -> puff pastry
or (more probably?) "pâte brisée"? -> shortcut pastry

Did you need about 250g?
How big is your tart tin? (I suppose I could try to guess)

would be useful to have a rough idea about temperature of the oven

Plenty of goat cheese here and no problem with getting the soft type - on the other hand, "gruyère" cheese is quite expensive! As it is essentially used for making a "gratiné" on the top, I would have to replace this ingredient by a mature type of Cheddar from Somerset. No problem at all and same "gratiné" result!

"Un grand merci pour la recette".

Amber...Peoria, IL

Sometimes it is so hard as the MOM to live in the moment! There you were, mothering your Mom and your son when what is wrong with bantering along? I find myself in that situation sometimes too. I am taking a lesson from this to just "let go" and live in the moment with them! Life is short, so we should add minutes, days, years by having a little fun!

I am so excited for the recipe....I lOVE quiche and I am growing mint this year!

Merci beaucoup!


Wow, your mother is impressive. I have learned that to those who loose so much (or go through so much) they weather things better. My husband who has had his leg cut off, re-attached, walks with a limp, and has lost the vision in one eye goes forward without complaining because he says what choice does he have. Well, I think I would be complaining of leg pain when I walk, and make a lot of excuses and get frustrated (loudly) when I am trying to read, see in dim light, or not be able to drive after dark. Guess I have not had to suffer so much. My hat is off to people like your mother and my husband.

And on a light note, I can hardly wait to try the recipe. To Newforest, ask the deli counter people for a very small amount of Gruyere (sp?)then place in freezer for fifteen minutes just before grating it. It makes the cheese go further.

Everyone have a good weekend.

Bill Facker

Kristin, it's great to awaken with a new posting from you. Welcome back from vacation. Aloha, Bill Facker

Cynthia Lewis

Kristin, the antics of your Mother and Max in the waiting room are priceless. To have an understanding physician with a sense of humor is priceless,also. In this post and the prior one, bougainvillea is mentioned. I am reading a fascinating book about the French woman who actually collected this plant for the first time and brought it back to Paris' Jardins du Roi as it was called in the 1700's. She was disguised as a man during the three year voyage....making her the first woman to circumnavigate the world! The Discovery of Jeanne Baret by Glynis Ridley (To this day Louis-Antoine de Bougainville is given credit for the discovery of this popular plant.)

Sharon - Montague, Michigan

I enjoy your stories of the interactions of your family. What a treasure; they are such jewels of life. You may want to collect all of those with your Mom and title the book "The Book of Jules".

Thanks for another wonderful peak into your life.



I am glad that Max is not so 'adult' (as mentioned in the earlier story regarding his registration for military service) as to have lost his ability to tease and joke. I am also glad to see that the doctor understood the value of it. I have never seen such a response from a medical professional in the U.S. Asthma and allergies would keep Max out of military service in the U.S., but I don't know if that would be true in France.

Thank you for taking the time to run this website and keep us educated. I not only learn new vocabulary, but also geography as well as French culture and cooking. Thank you for the recipe. I always enjoy your photos, even if they are not related to what you have written. At present, your photos take me out of the smoke and ash that we are getting from the Wallow Fire in Arizona. Merci.

Teresa Meek

Kristin, did you go to Kauai???

Hello, Bill Facker!

Karen from Phoenix, AZ

What a wonderful story. Love the bantering back and forth. I am always a bit too loud and people stare but that is what life is about.

Can't wait to try the tart recipe.

Joan Linneman

Fun story... And concerning My Antonia, I think you can't go wrong with the classics in any language. There is so much culture one learns just from absorbing great books.
And finally, I can't help going for the pun:
badinage... bodynage (I thought that was the Wednesday entry)! Joan L.

Kristin Espinasse

Newforest, thanks for that needed "e" which giggled its way out of "plaisant(e)rie". It's back now! And "On ne badine pas avec l'amour" came to mind, too. I wasn't sure if it was a current novel or a song or... now we know! Re the measurements: I just winged it - (also: yes for the pâte feuilletée or puff pastry). My tart tin is the biggest size available in disk: 30 cm. Re temperature and time (I looked on the packet of puff pastry and used their guide -- I can't remember what it was but an internet search for a similar quiche would give some ideas of time and temp.

Cynthia, fascinating story! I'll be googling that book, "The Discovery of Jeanne Baret"

MH, so sorry to read about the AZ fire! Thoughts going out to the desert...

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

Thank you for sharing the giggles and smiles today. I love Jules contagious attitude! It looks like Max has inherited it too. This is the second time today I’ve received the message that laughter is good medicine. Reminds me of a comment from a neighbor a few years back. I had just adopted a corgi puppy and he asked about her. I said she is a clown and keeps me laughing. He replied that whatever she had cost me it was worth it as that laughter would lengthen my life.

Thanks for sharing the tart recipe. It sounds delicious and I just picked up fresh goat cheese at the market. Also, thankful for your sharing of Willa Cather’s book. I have not read her for twenty years.

I’m heading over to a friend’s garden for a picnic and here’s hoping the main course will be laughter. Lovely weekend to all!

Jennifer in OR

Lots of love here! Bravo to your mom, she is a true inspiration! I agree, it's foreign to bring your own syringe--never heard of that!

My Antonia is on my summer reading list, thanks for the words on the book. The photo of the boat...so bright and cheerful in both color and feel. Ahhh. The tarts, I hope to make soon. Is it regular pie crust?

Marianne Rankin

I can adjust to much that is French/European, including kilometers, temperature in Centigrade, etc. I've never understood how non-American can good using grams as a measurement instead of, say, cups. How do you know how much X grams of something is? And wouldn't the amount vary by the weight of the ingredient? Water is heavier than flour, sugar lighter than butter, etc. If there are equivalents of French measurements for Americna readers, I'd be interested in seeing them. Of course I know that 250 g is 1/4 of a kilo, so therefore roughly 1/2 pound, but I still don't know what volume that is. Newforest or Kristin, do you have some general guidelines?

Also, I've seem recipes which say something like, "cook in Mark 6 oven," but have no idea what Mark 6 is in terms of degrees.

I'm sure the bantering made the doctor visit much more enjoyable. As I get older, I hope to retain some of what we might consider a childlike spirit, evident in today's story.

Diane Scott

Your story today was delightful and touched me on so very many levels. This quote from Emerson, just sent to me by a dear friend and healer (there is that synchronicity again!)sums up your experience with your dear mother and precious son: "There is simply the rose;it is perfect in every moment of its existence."

P.S. Your tart recipe, which your husband shared with us several years ago on his blog, is a family favorite. But his included pine nuts and creme fraiche. A culinary delight!


Salut Kristin:
Les enfants sont en vacances maintenant? Just came back from a trip to China. While there, I also had to check mail to read your anecdotes. Internet was painfully slow and worse, blogging was blocked. I could not see any images, and each time I clicked on la boîte de commentaires, I'd get the message "connection was reset"!!! The trip was wonderful, je m'y suis bien amusée. But it's nice to be back to my nid douillet. And comme toujours, j'adore tes anecdotes qui me font sourire. Ta maman est pleine d'entrain, so playful and lovable.
I'd request a numbing patch if I had known that exists, car j'ai horreur des piqûres. Ah oui, je suis douillette, très sensible à la douleur.

Janine Cortell

Chere Kristin:
ON NE BADINE PAS AVEC L'AMOUR( non plus.Marivuax). A wonderful story. Have you read it? Amities, Janine Cortell


Merci for your thoughts re the AZ Wallow Fire and the smoke that has drifted to New Mexico this week. I am happy to say that the air has been much better today (Friday) than it has all week. The sun was not as red at sunset this evening as on previous nights.


following Marianne's post (and how the non-Americans cope with measurements... in the kitchen)

Europeans use the 'Metric' system.
At school in Great Britain the children no longer learn the Imperial system.

You must bear in mind that, in the Metric system, dry ingredients are measured by WEIGHT and liquids (fluids) are measured by VOLUME -> this implies 2 distinct units of measurement, so, different terms. (there are no 'fluid grams' as you have 'fluid ounces'...)

***the WEIGHT of DRY INGREDIENTS is given in Grams (g) and in Kilograms (kg)
1 kilogram = 1000 grams
-> Your question: 'How do you know how much X grams of something is'?
-> Answer: you simply use your scales. Kitchen scales, whether retro-mechanical, or electronic, will display the weight in g and kg (up to 3 or 5 kg) of any ingredient needed in a recipe. Accurate result without any problem.

***the VOLUME of LIQUIDS is measured in litres (L) and millilitres (ml)
1 litre = 1000 millilitres
To measure the volume of any liquid needed for a recipe, you use a glass measuring jug. Clear red markings indicate metric measurements (in millilitres) up to 0.5L (500ml), or up to 1litre (1L). You can forget 1 litre of water weighs 1 kilo, as recipes will only give the amount of any liquid in litres and millilitres.
I have a 500ml (1/2 L) measuring jug and a bigger one (1L). Measuring jugs in England often have two extra markings for 1 pint and 1/2 pint (although these measurements are not often used these days). In France, I saw measuring jugs (called "verres gradués" / "verres doseurs") with markings up to 1L and, on the other side of the glass, markings (in grams) for measuring "farine" ('flour'), "riz" ('rice') and "sucre en poudre ('caster sugar' / 'superfine sugar').

Hi Marianne, I hope it's getting a bit clearer (?)
-> You also asked:
'wouldn't the amount vary by the weight of the ingredient? Water is heavier than flour... sugar lighter than butter'

-> Answer: in a 'non-American' recipe, the measurement for water, milk... (any liquid) is given in litres and millilitres (sorry for repeating myself). A measuring jug will give you an accurate measurement in L and ml - and as mentioned earlier, your kitchen scales will give you the weight of any dry ingredient in grams and kilograms.
So, you can forget the idea you mentioned about water, flour, sugar and butter, because in a recipe, water is not measured in weight anyway, and because 200g of flour, 200g of butter and 200g of sugar weigh exactly the same and it is the weight that matters (so, not to worry about their volume!).

-> You also said:
"...cook in Mark 6 oven, I have no idea what Mark 6 is in terms of degrees".
-> Answer: Gas Oven on 6 = 400°F or 200°C, so, it's Moderately Hot.

Hope this is clear enough and will be useful.


Little addition to my previous post
To you Marianne,
and to Americans and non-Americans FWAD readers interested in recipes:

Here are some CONVERSION TABLES regarding volumes, weight, oven temperatures ... and more, found on Delia Smith's website. She is a famous cook who lives in Norwich (Norfolk, UK)

She uses the term 'approximate' - I haven't checked all the figures, but I trust her (she most probably means that some figures were rounded up, or down) **

So far, this is the only website I found giving such extensive conversion tables!

Bon week-end!

PS ** 'approximate'? here is an example about the temperature for an oven:
-> 400°F temperature = something between 204°C and 205°C,
so, Delia's conversion indicates 200°C (which corresponds to the temperature of Gas mark 6)

john p senetto

S'amuser avec gran mere. LOL

Eileen deCamp

Sweet story Kristin! I'm glad you and your family are enjoying time with your mom. Those goat cheese tarts look delicious!


Bon weekend Kristin. I loved your photo from Spain. You certainly have a photographic eye.

Pat Cargill

Lovely, light full-of-fun post and a pleasure to hear of the bantering between Max et Jules. Building beautiful memories. Look fwd to trying the yummy mint-goat chz tart. Have a wonderful time w/your dear Mom.

Pat Cargill

p.s. My Antonia is one of my favorite books. This reminder inspires me to re-read for summer.

Marianne Rankin

Hi, Newforest,

I really appreciate the conversion information you sent. And I'm sure the "approximate" measures are close enough.

Now I'll be more inclined to try French recipes, encouraged because I will not fear burning them!

Thank you.


It's always such a pleasure to read your notes about you and your family. This one made me smile!

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