au pied leve
My Journey from Arizona to France


Max Espinasse
In a nearby calanque... I'm counting on our 17-year-old, Max, to bring home more "fruits of the sea"... because I sure don't trust some of the fruits they're selling us at the supermarket! Read on, in today's story column. (Photos in today's post are by Jean-Marc)

nourrir (noo-reer)

    : to feed, to nourish

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc read this vocab list: Download MP3 or Wav file

Et ce n'est pas en mangeant trois feuilles de laitue que tu vas te nourrir!
And it's not by eating a few lettuce leaves that you're going to nourish yourself.

se nourrir = to feed oneself
nourrir des espérances
 = to cherish hopes
nourrir au sein = to breastfeed
une conversation nourrie = a lively conversation 
mal nourri = ill-nourished
bien nourri = well-fed
nourrir une rancune = to nurse a grudge


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

Seated at the dining room table, a basket of nuts separating us, Jean-Marc and I were having one of those highly animated arguments that arise when one spouse's neurosis butts heads with the other spouse's neurosis.

Him: Tu ne veux pas entendre la verité.
Me: Ha! You mean the truth according to you

Him: Hmph!
Me: Hmph!

When there seemed to be no resolution in sight—so red were our faces, so steaming were our ears—one of us did a remarkably sensible thing... by dipping his hand back into the hat of sujets à aborder, or "stuff we need to talk about", and drawing another ticket!

His defensive tone gone, my husband's voice remained firm:

Et ce n'est pas en mangeant trois feuilles de laitue que tu vas te nourrir!

I listened to my husband's French and, translating his words, I was hit by their deeper meaning: 

"And it isn't by eating a few lettuce leaves that you're going to feed yourself!"

This remark wasn't some sort of idiomatic low-blow. Jean-Marc literally meant what he said, and his concerned tone sent a steel ball spiraling towards my mur de défense

There was a tightening sensation in my throat, which felt as though someone were squeezing it. Tears pushed up from out of nowhere.  The more the tightening, the more tears were extracted until my face was streaming with them.


"Do you ever cry openly?" A loved one once asked, while helping me with relationship issues. I considered her question. Capable of spontaneous tears when suprised by an image of vulnerability (a defenseless human or animal), I don't often have the same tear-ejecting response when confronted with my own helplessness. Maybe that's because I'm not always aware of it.

This time my husband's words hit the emotional release button. I sat facing him, silently dissolving into a puddle of larmes

Jean-Marc was right. I haven't been eating lately—not after discovering that even the French have let genetically modified organisms into the marketplace! What had been a gradual awakening to the reality of the food industry... has rapidly become a full-out phobia in which every carrot is suspect and every grape sits taunting me from the produce aisle and every package of chèvre bleats, "You sure this goat hasn't grazed on pesticides?" And forget about meat when the cows are eating the animals that are eating the chemically altered corn!

Afraid even of endives, I've been madly sowing seeds in the potager, but the vegetables growing there aren't yet mature; this has me impatiently picking the beet's leaves and other leafy beginnings—when all the crickets don't beat me to them.

For the kids and Jean-Marc, I buy organic fruit, arsenic-free rice, and charcuterie labelled SANS OGM. I quit buying Chocopops and replaced Nutella with a biologique version.. All dishes are made from scratch but the more I research food news the more it becomes complicated to come up with "safe" meals and I'm beginning to feel overwhelmed.


Back at the confrontation table, Jean-Marc tries to be encouraging. "You can eat some of this baguette," he offers, pointing to the two loaves, just beyond the basket of nuts.

But there are pesticides in that fresh-baked baguette. Didn't he watch the film?!... And besides, the carbohydrates in bread break down into sugars... and sugar feeds cancer! 

Mon dieu! What's got into me? Food safety is enough to drive you crazy. Looking down at that basket of noix that separates me and my husband, suddenly those nuts are looking more than organic... they are looking like a good warning of what can happen when you get carried away with fear.


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French vocabulary

Tu ne veux pas entendre la verité = you don't want to hear the truth
sujets à aborder = subjects to address
Et ce n'est pas en mangeant trois feuilles de laitue que tu vas te nourrir! = And it's not by eating a few lettuce leaves that you're going to nourish yourself 
le mur de défense = wall of defence
une larme = a tear
la chèvre = goat
la charcuterie = processed meats
biologique = organic 
la noix = walnut 


  Max Espinasse
At this rate it's going to take a while to nourrir our family. Come on, Max, get back in there and catch Mom a giant daurade!

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