1. to peel, to pare (fruits, vegetable); to shuck (remove corn husk)
2. to comb through (documents, files)
Listen: hear the French word éplucher:
Audio File from Wikipedia:
For more pronunciation help, check out the guide Exercises in French Phonetics!
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Today's cozy word is éplucher -- therefore I thought we could sit down together, at the kitchen table, and peel some potatoes while I tell you a little story.
First, here's a picture of the kitchen table, so as to set the scene:
The table, a gift from Maggie and Michael, who sold us their home, is not really in the kitchen--it's beside the kitchen--but it so close that you can do kitchen prep work there.
Bon, bref--on with today's story! (And have you picked out a paring knife yet? What? You thought *I* was going to peel this mountain of patates all by myself? Didn't your social sciences professor teach you the word "reciprocity"--or do you need to reread Chapter 12: Yanomamo Culture)? Reciprocity = I do this for you. You do this for me, i.e. I tell the story. YOU peel the potatoes!)
Now for the story... it began night before last when I noticed the front door was ajar. Next, I saw the empty dog bed!!!
"Max! You left the door open and now the dogs have run off!"
(Hang on a moment, to tell the story from this point in time would take two pages. Let's get right to the action! By the way, dear reader, who taught you to peel potatoes? Pick up the pace will you. The oven is pre-heating and we don't want to run up the electric bill!)
As I was saying, it all began this morning with a knock at the front door. There, on our doorstep, my neighbor Annie looked exhausted.
"Come on in!" I said, ushering Annie to the kitchen table.
As she passed by our two golden retrievers (who were passed out on their bed, having returned from an all-nighter), Annie wagged her finger. "Les vilains! You are bad dogs!"
Yikes. Something was up. I took precautions offering Annie the best seat at the table and proposing coffee or tea.
"Rien. I'm just in a bad mood," she explained. "Contrariée!"
Annie went on to tell about how a couple of golden-haired dogs had wandered up to her place after midnight and torn down her chicken wire fence and almost feasted on her hens!
"Sensing the trespassers, my own dogs went berserk inside the house," Annie said, "doing almost as much damage to my own nest!"
"Oh no!" I'm so sorry, I said, wagging my own finger at the dogs to prove with whom my sympathies now rested (I didn't dare tell Annie how I'd rejoiced, earlier, when the dogs returned home from I didn't know where. No, I wouldn't tell her how I'd lain down on the gravel driveway, hugging my dogs close while singing 10 choruses of Hallelujah. Or how I remained on the ground, in a tight human-dogs grip, grateful for the way the near-tragedy had dragged me outdoors to experience a beautiful winter's day. How the countryside seemed to fill with color, right before my eyes! And the yellow of the daisies and the purple of the irises! The world was so alive and bright outside of the internet, the new Smartphone, and my cozy bed! It took a near-catastrophe to wake up and hear the birdsong that only a day before was but a muffling in my ears.
I might have shared this back-to-life thunderstrike with Annie, but this was not the right time to preach the gospel! It was time to assure my neighbor we would do our best to contain our dogs.
"I'm determined to do whatever I can to keep Braise and Smokey from wandering off. We built a large dog pen for them to run around in during the day--and we keep them locked up in the house at night--but sometimes they manage to slip through the loops! I'm so sorry ! Thank God they didn't eat your goose!" I knew Annie was particularly fond of her female oie--having lost the male goose last summer.
As I sat there, apologizing profusely, I noticed Annie eyeing a box of clementines. "Take these," I said, pushing the oranges towards my tired neighbor.
"I'll just have one..." Annie said. The look of delight in her eyes reminded me of my mother-in-law's post-war childhood. To get so much as an orange for Christmas was like receiving a bar of gold! Michele-France often tells me the orange story during holiday season, and I could imagine Annie knew the same hardships, being of the same generation as my belle-mère.
"No harm done," Annie said, and it was as though her own memories--released along with the citrusy scent of that orange--called her back to grittier times, which in turn brightened her current perspective.
As Annie got up to leave, I kissed her on both cheeks. And I took the opportunity to slip several more bright orange clementines in her coat pocket, wondering how else to improve the situation.
It occurs to me now, dear reader, that if we had any courage at all, we'd hurry up with this potato prepping and get these patates into the oven--in time to cook this gratin dauphinois--and offer the comfort food to the dear soul who suffered a sleepless night!
...Yes, but for the courage it takes!
* * *
Pancho, Braise, and I made you a one-minute motion picture (if "motion picture" is a stretch, at the very least the footage will give you a sense of atmosphere).
Introducing "Slow Food: A Quiet Moment Peeling Potatoes." To watch the following picture, you may need to click over to the blog. Sorry about the vertical video frame. To see more scenery, click "full screen" (see the icon in the lower right corner of the video)
To comment on this post, click here. And many thanks for reading and for sharing French Word-A-Day with others.
Coming up: I've made a decision about the book cover and will share that with you very soon. Many thanks for your helpful votes!
A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
Thank you for reading this language journal. In 2002 I left my job at a vineyard and became self-employed in France. "French Word-A-Day" has been my full-time occupation ever since. Ongoing support from readers like you helps keep this site ad-free and allows me to focus on writing. My wish is to continue creating posts that are educational, insightful, and heart-warming. If my work has touched you in any way, please consider supporting it via a blog donation.
Ways to contribute:
1. Send a check
2. PayPal or credit card
3. A bank transfer, ZELLE is a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.
Or purchase our online memoir, The Lost Gardens