How to say wasp in French... and the fascinating life inside a figue!
How to say "a thought" in French and rewiring the brain (neuroplasticity!)

Pastèque: Easy Fruit Salad Recipe

Childhood (c) Kristin Espinasse
Back when things weren't so complicated and you spoke your heart out.


 pastèque (pah-stek)

: watermelon


    by Kristin Espinasse

La Salade d'Amour

I was talking to my table-mate to the right when my left ear perked up and my husband's words came as a shock. 

I can't believe he just said that! But that was private--just between us!

I sat back in my chair, the night sky and its carpet of stars twinkling above. Looking around, I saw 10 intrigued faces staring back. What was that Jean-Marc just said? our guests wondered.

In the awkward pause that followed I weighed the pros and cons of coming clean. But it was too late now. Those quizzical looks awaited an answer! Only, these were French people. What would they think if I confirmed the tidbit some of them had just heard? Would they write me off as some bare-footed baba cool? Or would I be classified as a woo-woo?

It didn't take a shooting star to see the light. But my gaze fell brightly from the sky back to our well-heeled invités. If I couldn't be real now then when? Almost as a hint as to what to say next, my husband's announcement echoed in my head. Elle a fait cette salade avec amour! he had said. It was an innocent enough statement, but would it peg me? (And as what? A sentimentalist? So what. Big deal!)

"Yes!" I confessed. "I made this salad with love... I once heard that food tastes better that way!"

Any silence that followed was broken by a guest's lip-slapping remark: This is delicious! And there aren't even any pits in the cherries!

Giggles erupted before another tablemate noted, "That must have been a lot of work!"

Listening to our friend's compliments, Jean-Marc smiled at me, and I might have relaxed then and there. Alas--he wasn't done divulging! I braced myself for the next revelation. 

"Yes, she pitted every cherry...with love." Next he mimicked the scene he witnessed in the kitchen, where I stood at the sink preparing cerises with the help of my garlic press and its built in pit-popper. ''This one's for Cari and this one's for Pierre (pop... pop...). This one's for Isabelle and this one's for Eric'..."

As Jean-Marc recounted the story I studied our guests' faces. It all must have sounded saccharine sweet to them. But it was true. I did whisper offerings to each piece of fruit as I prepared my salad. In cooing to the cherries and the bananas and the melons, I had only been betting on a tip I'd heard about: for delicious food, put your heart into it!

 Too late now, the awkward truth was out. There was nothing left to do but to own it....

"And this one's for Emily and this one's for Bernard," I said, illustrating the technique I had employed with the help of my pit-popper. "And this one's for Bénédicte and this one's for Fred...pop! pop!"

As I acknowledged our friends who were seated round the table, my mind returned to the kitchen, where I'd struggled with those same old doubts while putting together a meal. "And this one is for Jean-Marc," I had said, continuing with the chore that was no longer a chore.

And then suddenly I was filled with the thrill of remembering an ingredient I had almost forgotten. Pop! I watched the last cherry land in the salad bowl after one more "person" was added to the jovial bunch.

"... And this one is for Kristi!" I cheered. You know the saying, L'amour est contagieux.

*    *    * 


1 cup cherries 
1 cup love
1 cup honeydew melon
(squeezes of lemon)
1 cup tendresse
1 cup oranges, cubed
1 cup encouragement
1 cup apples, cubes
1 cup affection
1 cup bananas...
(more lemon squeezes...) 

Continue adding any fruit in season. seasoning each time with tenderness. 

Recipe Update: Lately I have really enjoyed adding roasted pumpkin seeds, a swirl of our very own olive oil (yes!), a litte salt, some dried cranberries or raisins... or anything I have on hand that would enhance the flavor or texture. Try something new!  

French Vocabulary
un baba cool = hippie
un (une) invité(e) = a guest 
elle a fait cette salade avec amour = she made this salad with love 
la cerise = cherry 
l'amour est contagieux = love is contagious 

  Jules drives again (c) Kristin Espinasse

Random photo. How do you learn to drive? Same way as how you make food, with love! See the encouraging gaze on Jean-Marc's face as he teaches my Mom to drive again after she spent years away from the wheel. Photo taken a few years ago (That mom of mine never did forget how to drive. And Jean-Marc learned a new term: lead foot!)

Mr Sacks in Chateauneuf du Pape (c) Kristin Espinasse
Mr Sacks -- spotted in Chateauneuf du Pape. We met up with Rick, his family, and their delightful friends for a tour of Jean-Marc's uncle's vineyard--Domaine du Banneret--and a few other tasting rooms, including Domaine Julien Masquin. Someone in our group got a group picture. If I get a copy I'll post it!

Thanks for sharing this edition with a friend :-) 


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Suzanne Dunaway

To impress your guests next time, maket the same salad witout bananas, and add tiny pieces of smoked herring and sweet onion, chopped fine.
It will blow their well-heeled minds....
A French neighbor gave the recipe to me and we have it all summer long.
Smoked salmon in tiny pieces works well, too.
And thanks for the cherry idea--but it's the pits to clean them!!!
I like to hear JM saying things like that.....


I've been cooking with love for years! It is nothing odd or strange. In many cultures you should never prepare food when you are angry or aggitated - it will be transfered into the food. So of course love is the magical ingredient that is the "cherry on top" so to speak. (I always wonder how any food from Gordon Ramsey could possibly taste any good. That man is so full of venom, how could anything he creates in the kitchen be magnificent???)

Amber, Peoria, IL's absolutely the key ingredient and I do believe you can taste it! It is something to be proud of...not all people put L'amour into their food. My Grandmother, who had 16 children and was an excellent cook, always said the key ingredient was love. This is something I have passed on to my own daughters, ages 6 and 9. Countless times they have innocently said "you can really taste the LOVE in this one" or "this is so good you must have put a lot of LOVE in it!" Love in food is actually a common conversation in our house. If you asked my daughters the first ingredient in any recipe....they would say "LOVE"! Something to be proud of, Kristi!

Love the picture of CNP! Takes me for a stroll down memory lane! Uncle Jean-Claude is a very nice man who bottles an exceptional wine! Getting out the scrap books now to recount my visit in 2010!

Milles bisous!

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

Here's what I take away from today's vignette: If something comes up that might make you feel embarrassed, own it. Embrace it. Embarrassment is driven away.

Lovely story, Kristin.


Kristi, I recently discovered a wonderful little gadget at "Sur la Table", which pits four cherries at once. It was about $16 and it makes the cherry pitting go by much more quickly. Not wanting to take the element of love out of your salad, you would actually increase it! "Four cherries for this person, four cherries for that person...!" Thanks for your lovely story!

Sevahn Merian from Michigan

Such a cute story! Loveable just like the author!

Chris Allin

Amazing, Kristin, how timely and universal your stories are. You are able to take a moment in your life, a thought, an observation and transform it to your readers, who then relate to and identify with what you have written. This weaves them into a community, brought together by a certain commonality. Such is with your sweet story today.

Your Love Salad shares a whole menu of love inspired and soul filled dishes. I recently took my daughter to lunch for her birthday. Her restaurant of choice was a new establishment in Kansas City called Cafe Gratitude, a concept conceived by a couple in California. It is vegan, organic and uses local produce, delicious wholesome food served with tenderness and respect. Your fruit salad could have been on the menu!

It would be interesting to know if any of your California readers have had the good fortune to frequent a Cafe Gratitude...definitely a unique experience.

Definitely worth a virtual visit:

The individual city websites actually have the menu and the ingredients..

Bill in St. Paul

My wife has always cooked with love (as long as I stay out of the way). Her main love offering for a dinner invite or a "thank you" for a kind deed done for us is a batch of "English" muffins - two to three times as round and twice (at least) as thick as the store bought ones. Thanks for the recipe, Kristin!

Lisa Culver

Last summer I purchased a bestselling authors cookbook "You are what you eat" by Gillian McKeith. Her final words were exactly what you expressed in your story. She says while preparing and choosing your food, the emotional nourishment and warm healing is her "greatest discovery" in wellness. Also, I just finished "The Soul of Money" and author Lynn Twist says the same principle applies to money. $50 dollars given with love is more powerful than $50,000 given without love. (i.e. drummer boy story).
So, WRITE on, and BTW, I could feel the love in your story, which nourished me, and I am quite sure, although they made fun of you, your husband and your guests felt it too.
Honestly Grateful for your story,
Lisa Culver
Raleigh, NC

Kathleen from Connecticut

I can just picture you pitting those cherries, associating each with a person who will enjoy them. Plus it also makes the task not seem like a task but as some thing so enjoyable. Enjoy the moment of praise from JM. Women seem to have to justify everything and not just bask in the included!
I also use my cherry pitter for pitting olives to make tapenade...especially those big green ones.
Sounds like a great salad...would love one right now!


Betty Doolittle Tuininga

Hi Kristi,
All food should be prepared with love. I am a personal chef and still prepare each meal with love. The couple that I cook for need that touch after a hectic day...I believe the French would agree, LOVE is what makes the world go round, even if it is in the food!

Love your story and your patience in pitting the cherries!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Love the post today! I was wondering if you can find seedless watermelon in France. I bought one the other day but I kind of miss spitting the seeds! When you were describing pitting each cherry with love for your guests I was imagining how it would be if you were making something but had thoughts of people who had wronged you. Chopping carrots or onions...this one is for so and so.....CHOP...this one is for.....Tell your mom that I am a lead foot too and so is my daughter. We have to watch it on the roads. Love the photo of your sweet aunt!

Young Paciello

Years ago, a movie came out called "like water for chocolate". Check it out. Whatever emotion the cook was feeling translated itself to the diners! So when you prepare a meal with love, the guests should feel the love as well! And definitely get that cherry pitter!

judi dunn

........."All we need is love.........." "What the world needs now, is love sweet love...."

Judi from Tallahassee, Fl.

Julie Farrar

What a wonderful story. Don't be embarrassed of anything you create with love. I think that's a huge ingredient in cooking. And think of it from J-M's perspective -- he saw something special in what you do and wanted to share it.

Gwyn Ganjeau

Kristin, once again, you stuck the landing. what a lovely story. and one so close to my heart. cooking for or with people i love is one of my favorite passtimes. and that feeling of creating with love makes the whole process so much more enjoyable! it keeps me from getting stressed about a 'party' and just keeps me focused on the part of it that's really important--bellies i love around the table.

i thought i'd share one of my favorite summer salad recipes:

watermelon feta salad
cube a bunch of watermelon in bite-sized pieces. chiffonade (thinly slice) a bunch of fresh basil and scatter all over the watermelon. crumble a bunch of feta cheese and toss it in. squeeze a generous amount of lime juice over everything. you can, if you want add a tiny drizzle of olive oil, but most often i don't. this is really refreshing. sometimes i use cantaloup and mint instead of watermelon and basil. i'm sure there are lots of good variations.

okay--now i'm hungry...

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for the recipes and for your loving feedback!

Eileen, JM brought home a seedless watermelon and I ate it... but when I buy them I stick to the non modified ones! Seeds are natural and if you do an internet search you will see they are very nutritious.

Henry Cross

This reminds me of a friend of mine, who for obvious reasons must remain nameless. When we were both small children and were invited to a birthday party, my friend would divide up his piece of birthday cake. Then he would name each tiny little piece. "This one is for Mom, Dad, Grandma, etc, etc. He would invariably be given another piece for himself. Quite a strategy.

Stacy ~ Sweet Life Farm

Sweet story, Kristi, I can see you creating your salad with your loving intent and warm heart. Something to share for love is nourishing and healing!

My dad taught me intention is key in whatever we do. Be it cooking, growing trees or gardens, our relationships and in giving - as Lisa from NC commented above.

Thank you for this loving reminder. I also love the term “baba cool”!


Oui, c'est super important de faire la cuisine avec un esprit d'amour et générosité. Sinon, on risque de ne pas réussir vos plats! Pastèque
veut dire watermelon, n'est pas?


Our dear Kristi,
What a beautiful (perfect!) picture, and an even more beautifully written story! Really a joy for us to have shared in this!
I am a firm believer in doing everything (anything!) possible with it cooking (your salad sounds heavenly!) or whatever else. Not only does it make the giver (you!) feel a sense of well being but it makes the recipient(us!) feel all the caring and warmth put into something for our behalf.
It would be hard not to feel that love and want to pass it on.
THANK YOU for such inspiration today--and every day!
Love, Natalia XO

Jan  Hersh

I wrote a recipe for Love Soup and it was posted in our local paper. You can find the story here

I wish I could taste your love salad in person.

Happy July,


Cynthia Lewis (Eastern Shore of Maryland)

I would say that you prepared the most delicious fruit "salade d'amour" in all of France that evening. After nineteen years, you know how Jean-Marc loves to be mischievous sometimes. This time it worked beautifully let your guests know how much you were thinking of each of them while preparing their meal. Of course, you only have to smile to melt everyone's heart!

N, San Antonio, Texas

Everything I would say has already been said so DItto, Ditto, Ditto

Fruit salad is a universal form of love - cannot think of anyplace people do not love fruit. Wonderful story and as usual you wrote it beautifully.

MJH DesignArts

Hi Kristin, Is there any other way to prepare food? Maybe that's why I love to cook--the ultimate act of caring for those you love. Thank you for reminding me.


I visited Chateauneuf de Pape two years ago. I plan on making it back there again next summer, for the wine festival. I will certainly have to look up Jean Marc's uncle's wine! Merci pour les renseignements!!
(New Jersey)

Sandy Maberly

Yes! What a delicious way to "flavor" your meals....with love! Your tale brought to mind the previously mentioned story, "Like Water for Chocolate". The idea was the same, with emotions infusing the meals prepared, but fortunately in your story the outcome is much happier :-) It's obvious that your guests were impressed with you and your dessert!

Heather in Arles

I am so hopelessly sentimental that I actually started to get a little teary when I got to the recipe and read "1 cup Love" and then was like, "Heather, stop it! It's a recipe!" :) But I needed this reminder as too often here in France, I am not confident when cooking for guests so am thinking about getting it "right"--well, nothing is more right than cooking with Love, my Mom taught me that I just forgot!
And speaking of Love--that is so clearly what your readers feel for you and your writing and it is so lovely to see...

Fred Caswell

Chere Amie, Bonne Journne et je toi et ta famille manque.

Wish I could have been one of the "invites" sharing you "salade faite avec amour" and the group!

Toujours affectueusement et mon amour a tous. Fred

Suzanne Dunaway

But where is the photo of your changed Jackie????? I want to see her, unslouched!

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