My new book is available now! One reason to buy it today...
culotte de cheval + new "prix amical" for book!

Tips for entertaining + book update!!

Caveau (c) Kristin Espinasse

Exciting book update at the end of this post! First, take note: Cousin Audrey, from Banneret, and Caroline, from Rouge-Bleu, will be pouring their wines in Portland at Pastaworks (Hawthorne, Saturday 03/15 from 3-5 PM & City Market, Sunday 03/16 from 3-5.PM) Don't miss this!

sans façon(s) (sahn fah-sahn)

    : no, thank you
    : unceremoniously

A guest at last night's dinner party taught me a new way to say "No, thank you!" (when the hostess offers an extra serving. Here's an example:

Audio File: Download MP3 or Wav

Hostess: Est-ce que tu voudras encore du gâteau?
Guest: Sans façon. 

You need only say those two words--with a nod and a smile--and you'll be a perfectly fluent guest (if not a perfectly fluent French speaker ;-)


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

Last night we ate at Pascale and Patrick's place. It was my first time meeting les Franco-Luxembourgeoises--after Jean-Marc disappeared daily, last year, to their home near Le Beausset!

"Yep, he's a cellar squatter," Patrick smiled.

I laughed picturing Chief Grape moving in, however lawfully, on another's cellar space.  I knew my husband was only borrowing their cave, to process all those grapes gleaned from a neighboring vineyard the week we moved to Bandol. But it was good to finally meet the wine buddy and his French wife, a funloving hostess who made the four-course dinner seem as simple as posting a letter (as the French say). 

We sat around the fireplace enjoying apéros, including olives from the estate and wine from the oranges amères that grow nearby. While the guests drank le vin, I savored as many olives as I could before being called over to the dinner table, where the others were headed to await their seat assignments.

Saperlipopette! The first course was so simple and lovely I wondered Why didn't I think of that?

In a beautiful blown-glass bowl an all lettuce salade was topped with avocado halves--the halves filled with orange fish eggs. The colors! And the texture of the salty, crunchy oeufs against the melt-in-your mouth avocats. Délicieux!

The main dish was veal with a coppery cream sauce. "That's saffron from the garden," Patrick explained. "Pascale is really into harvesting it for cooking!"

Sans déconner? You can grow your own saffron and avoid the store bought kind! Here was another tip to file away in my dossier "Astuces pour Recevoir." (Now to find it and dust it off....)

The meat was served with a side of steamed grains--a mixture of bulgar, soja, and quinoa. Tak! tak! (check! check!) I think I could manage this... My thoughts spinned as I tried keeping up with the hostess's savoir-faire. Though I couldn't make veal, I could substitue the dinde I'd recently made... (the lemon-drenched turkey had been an accidental success when sprinkled with rosemary... then drizzled with honey and balsamic vinegar and set on a bed of figs and red onion!).

Pascale and Patrick's meal was just the inspiration needed to jump-start our first dinner party after the kitchen renovation (party is tonight, renovation is ongoing...). If only I would continue to pay attention, I might walk away with a grocery list and a few more pointers, like this one:

"Here's one for vegetarian guests," Pascale announced, setting down the most exquisite "cake" I have ever seen. Imagine an unadorned birthday cake--only all ingredients are sauteed vegetables (carrots strips, onions, cabbage...)--all held together by delicate sheets of choux.

I'll bet she lined a cake pan with the steamed cabbage... then tossed in the fried veggies, cooked it all, then carefully flipped that pan over for the beautiful "cake effect". And so went my thoughts, pedaling and pedaling, in hopes of one day working it all out--the puzzle of cooking and entertaining.

Gosh the food was delicious! It was hard to muffle those non-verbal éclats of enjoyment, no matter how many times I concentrated on chewing quietly. But this was France, not China (is that where it's okay to hum while you eat?) and remembering one's manners is important no matter what country.

I'm at the end of my story now and I failed to tell you about the lovable characters seated round the table. One day I'll work this out too--the puzzle of putting together a story. For now, I leave you with a handy and oh-so-soignée expression that the lovely Valérie from Toulon (seated one seat over) taught me):

"We say 'sans façon'," she said, nodding her head, encouraging me practice....

Oh goody! That meant the next time Pascale offered a slice of cake, I didn't have to say 'no'! ...I could say sans façons... nevermind it meant exactly the same thing: no more gâteau for me.

*    *    *


la cave = wine cellar
sans déconner? = no kidding?
un apéro (apéritif) = drink
une orange amère = bitter orange
le vin = wine
saperlipopette! = hot diggity!
un oeuf = egg
un avocat = avocado
astuces pour recevoir = tips for entertaining
le savoir-faire = know-how
éclats = fit  (fits of laughter, enjoyment)
soigné(e) = well-groomed

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(Sample page... I have filled my book, First French Essais, with insights into France and French life, such as the excerpt above. I hope you will learn a lot more than vocabulary by reading this book!)

Thank you for ordering my new book! First French Essais made it to no. 38 on Amazon's Top 100 list yesterday--giving this tender book of essays and photos the chance to be noticed by readers outside of this blog! 

This is a crucial week for book awareness and I very much appreciate all you are doing to help get the word out to new readers. Many of you have bought more than one copy of my latest book. Others, who prefer to read via Kindle or Nook, have offered to buy a paperback for a friend (while waiting for the ebook version to come out).

Looking at the impressive ranking (no. 38!) it's easy to believe that thousands of books are flying out the door, but the bottom line is this: 301 copies have been sold. While this is extremely encouraging, there is a long way to go to reach those readers who are completely unaware of my stories.

You can help me shine the light on this book! If you have not yet bought a copy of First French Essais now is the time. Please don't wait for the ebook to come out. Consider buying a copy for a friend or family member. There is always an occasion to give a gift and what better cadeau than a book?

Thank you for listening. I am deeply grateful for your warm and lively and lovable support! Click here to order.


A Message from Kristi on this blog's 19th anniversary
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