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How to say snack in French?

Visan, France (c) Kristin Espinasse
The faded painted sign above reads "Cafe de la Mairie". (photo taken in Visan) I am pairing today's story--which takes place at fashion school--with window fashion. Enjoy the colorful scenes that decorate this edition and please consider forwarding it to a friend.

un en-cas (or encas, pronounced "on-kah")

    : snack

French definition: 
Repas léger en cas de besoin. Light meal in case of need.

Other ways to say snack in French: un goûter, un casse-croûte, une collation, and "quatre-heures" (for the four o'clock snack kids eat, often after school)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

Jackie and I arrived half an hour early for her second stage of the year, in the town of Six-Fours-les-Plages. Her first internship (in St Cyr, last fall) was at an optical shop, but this second experience is more in line with her career goals: she hopes to work in the fashion industry. Specifically, she dreams of being a styliste personnelle for the stars. 

Standing in the hall at the lycée professionnel, I keep my 15-year-old company as we wait for class to begin. To pass the time we study our surroundings. Near the entrance there is a bald mannequin dressed in a red and black flamenco skirt. On the walls pictures of runway shows feature futuristic outfits the students have created. In another frame, outside the secretaries' office, there is a delicately beaded handkerchief, something my grandmother might have made.

Like fallen beads, a nostalgic instant is dispersed when a teacher in horn-rimmed glasses bustles by us. Her arms are hugging a collection of dummy heads. It is amusing to watch as the collective heads of hair are further dishevelled by the purposeful gait of the hurried teacher, who disappears into a room full of hairdryers and sinks.

Returning my gaze to our immediate surroundings, I wonder if one of those wild-haired wigs is destined for the flamenco dancer? Qui sait? My attention turns now to all the French teenagers huddled in groups, waiting for the class bell to ring. They are wearing tight or flouncy skirts, leggings or baggy pants, inch-thick eyeliner or none at all, leaving me as much in the fashion dust today as I was at their age.

Curious, I look to see what Jackie is wearing. She has on her favorite T-shirt: all white with a large impression of the rapper Eminem. Over this, she's wearing a classic button-down jean shirt she's swiped from my closet. Wrapped around her neck there is a thick crocheted scarf in army green. She's got on her low-riding jeans and red Keds (or the French equivalent of red Keds, whatever that is). Overall, Jackie's outfit is a study in contrasts and it would take confidence to mix so many different styles.

Speaking of self-assurance, how would my daughter do during lunch hour? I remember how uncomfortable I felt as the new kid at school during lunchtime, when I would buy a sandwich in the cafeteria only to steal outside to hide on the outer limits of the dining hall, opposite the parking lot, where all the freaks hung out (the jocks were congregating with the cheerleaders at the picnic tables, and the artsy types seemed to go home for lunch to restyle themselves). 

In case Jackie couldn't find a friend to eat with, I packed her a trusty en-cas, something she could quickly consume in between classes. By the way, I hoped she would last until lunch... and not get hungry during the long morning session.... I remember suffering humiliation when my stomach cried out during quiz time. At a time when only scratching pencils could be heard, there would be those condemning gargouillements coming from beneath my desk!

In a room full of French language majors this was embarrassing enough, but for my daughter, who would spend the morning in a room full of fashionistas, a squawking stomach could really cramp her style!


Comments or corrections welcome here

French Vocabulary

styliste personnelle = fashion consultant

un stage
= internship, training program

lycée professionnel = vocational school, trade school

qui sait? = Who knows 

Gigondas window (c) Kristin Espinasse
Window in Gigondas 


Blue shutter clay maisonnette (c) Kristin Espinasse
Beaded curtains and a little house on the sill.

Easter window (c) Kristin Espinasse
 In theme with Easter... a beloved window in Gigondas

In window accoutrements we have this stylish "echo window" with a rooster.

A favorite window in Caromb. To comment on any item in this edition, click here.

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