See you at Monday's meet-up & How to say fingernail in French
Favorite word for car in French

peau de banane: soothes the skin, whitens teeth


Early this morning, three enormous sangliers crossed the field beside the potager. Jean-Marc and I scrambled to the window, eyes glued to the massive boars (not pictured) that had come out of the forêt. As we stood gazing, a loud snapping broke the silence. It was Smokey, on the terrace below us--bolting toward the trespassers

Tout est bien qui finit bien. All's well that ends well. It took seconds to reach my dog and get him safely into the house. Ouf! Another exciting start to the day. Now let me tell you about yesterday... just after today's word.

Join Jean-Marc and Kristi for the April 28th wine-tasting in St. Cyr-sur-Mer. 10 euros. Email jm.espinasse AT 

peau de banane (poh-deuh-bah-nan)

    : banana peel

Audio File: hear the following example sentence. Download Peau-de-banane

Frotter l'intérieur de la peau de banane sur une piqûre de moustique ou autre insecte, apaise la sensation. Cette astuce marche aussi pour les piqûres de plantes.

Rubbing the inside of the banana peel on the mosquito or other insect bite, will calm the sensation. This tip works for plant bites too. 


Beautifully renovated and decorated home in the Luberon. 4 bedrooms and a study with a sofa bed, each with ensuite (full) bath. This villa comfortably sleeps 7-9 adults.

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

And yesterday we were off!--as though bolting from an Olympic starting block. But no matter how industrious my husband and I try to be--as work-from-home beings--some days every project backfires.

Reluctantly, I left the writing at my desk to begin peeling off bed sheets (the kids--we currently have a house full for spring break--had drowned a mattress in hot chocolate). But as I sat scrubbing, a pan of soapy water beside me, I heard my husband shouting in the side yard....

As I ran from the house, I found Jean-Marc slapping himself silly. 

"Mais! Qu'est-ce qui se passe?!"

Boulders and path
  Smokey's mama, Braise, at the scene of the itchy drama.

Standing below two boulders that offset a path leading up to the kitchen garden, Jean-Marc had just cleared away the overgrown bushes--this in an attempt to create a waterfall. (I noticed the flimsy garden hose was now rigged to the top boulder... fancy that!)

"I think it was a cactus," my husband said, breathless. "It itches all over! Go check the medicine cabinet for anti-itch cream. Hurry!"

My mind was reeling as I pictured the contents of our First Aid kit. Normally there were sparadraps, tape and disinfecting spray. Married to a winefarmer, I'm always prepared for harvesting accidents.... But plant bites? What did we have for those?

No! Turning over the useless bag--the trousse de premiers secours--I kicked it aside and reached for the sack of green clay. I had hoped for baking soda, but I must have left it in the kitchen sink, while cleaning. Running a bath, I tossed handfuls of argile verte into the tub. Jean-Marc appeared, still jumping like a bean, in time to hop right into the cloudy waters.

I was counting on the green clay to "pull" the poison from my husband's skin, but it was clear he still needed something to soothe it. That's when it dawned on me: la peau de banane!

As luck would have it, we had a kitchen counter-top FULL of the fruit! Lately, I've been keeping an arsenal of the high-glucose snack, which helps both my brain and my mood (writing these stories quickly drains the cerveau--and bananas are the perfect way to refuel it! Plus, both my husband and I tend to be edgy given we live on the edge of our passions--as though that might somehow balance them.

I returned to the bathroom with an armful of bright yellow produce and a bright smile to boot! And you, dear reader, should have been a fruit fly on the bathroom wall, witnessing this odd production chain: it took one person to rip open the bananas and chew like mad before tossing the empty skins to the green man in the tub, who caught the flying banana peels in time to scrub his hairy arms and legs like a girl fixing to go to the beach. Only this was no beach. This was just another day in the life of an ordinary couple--

An ordinary couple with extraordinary dreams. To reach them we would have to scoot from the the center of our passions. This, at the risk of meeting that formidable tipping point. And aren't we all frightened of that? 

As I sling banana peels at my soul-mate, I wonder. Perhaps I can't speak for you--or even for my husband. I only know that I do have a dream. I just can't seem to grasp it. Maybe that's because it has begun to change shape? Like chasing a chameleon, it's hard to know what I'm looking for. But it is the search that keeps this engine going. That, and bananas. 

Comments welcome, click here to read them.

I think it's been a month since my First French Essais came out. Please consider ordering a copy if you haven't yet. Your book purchase helps others to find my book in a sea of memoirs, by putting these short stories on the radar at Amazon. Merci beaucoup! :-)

French Vocabulary

le sanglier = boar
le potager = kitchen garden
ouf = phew
le sparadrap = Band-Aid
la trousse de premiers secours = first aid
le cerveau = brain

New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.


Smokey, parsley for pesto and for fingernails, and some sheep bells which make opening the kitchen window a delightful country melody.

Caro feely

Here's a wonderful photo-vignette of my book, by winemaker and author Caro Feely (taken at her vineyard!). Check out her fascinating memoir on starting a vineyard in France--it's called Grape Expectations, and delightfully so!

Grape Expectations: "this is a unique insight into the world of the winemaker, and a story of passion, dedication, and love"

Click here to order Caro's book.

My desk

I enjoy writing from my father-in-law's card table. Its fuzzy green top peeled off long ago, before I met my husband. I never had the chance to meet Jean-Marc's dad, Gerard, but sometimes wonder if he is watching over us.

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joie in carmel-by-the-sea

As in the dream, it is the journey.
Something else for insect bites and possible "plant bites" is meat tenderizer. There is an enzyme in it that breaks down and draws out the poison.


Think you are living your dream my dear,it's all before you and with that hubby of yours there will never be a dull day!!!!

David Sheegog

I bet Jean Marc got into a patch of ortie, stinging nettle in Anglias. I have them, and there's very common everywhere in S France, particularly in damp terrain. Nasty and painful. Leaves are arrowhead shaped with sawtooth edges.


Kristi Darling,

What a great story to enjoy as I begin my day here in Mexico. Sometimes I wonder if you are reliving my life, just 21 years later in the scope of time. You have made me want to record my own story of the many encounters I had with the infamous havalina which roamed throughout the high desert mountains surrounding my cabin long ago. My story isn´t as ´sexy´as yours because you have a great character in your back pocket (Jean-Marc), I had a Rotwilier, 100 pounds of muscle, and a Airdale, which had the personality of a silly and loving 6 year old boy. The herd of havalinas visited regularly so I have some hair´raising stories.

I can´t believe JM is building the waterfall….I must say this vision dreaming I do in my paintings seems to be working. Remember - I told you I was painting in a future waterfall and pond near your garden. But I must say….Jean-Marc´s placement of the waterfall blows mine off the drawing board, mine was on the other side of the boulder. He´s always a step ahead of me. You are such a lucky girl to have a creative husband.

This is one of my favorite stories, so many great scenes you have planted in my mind.

I love you Honey.



Karen from Towson, Md

You are living your non-clock-punching dreams with one another - - banana peels, wild boars, and all. We are so happy to have you share these daily events with us who are in awe of you. The Spring breakers must be enjoying this, too! :-)

I hope JM is all better now.

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin! Life is full of adventure isn't it? I love not knowing what will happen. I am going to try the banana peel next time I have a mosquito bite! I found a tick attached to myself the other day after working in the garden. Do you have ticks in France! We are installing a waterfall at our house. I will have to send you a picture when it's finished! We had to bring in big rocks where you have them naturally! Have a nice weekend!


Interestingly enough, the good old banana peel is also good for removing warts! Just rub the inside of the peel on the wart, some times it takes a month of bananas to do this, but it works!

Also, roses need potassium for strong stems and the banana peel is the hero! Just bury it in the soil beneath your Rose bushes and voila! Strong stems, healthy roses! K.

catharine ewart-touzot

How wonderful it is to have a dream..and an ever changing one is quite interesting if not demanding of one to be able to accept the circumstances and readjust the dream. I have a dear friend in the last stages of his life, he has battled cancer for 10 years mow and I wonder does he have a readjusted dream or has the dreaming stopped. It makes my daily wants and dreams seem quite small but it also causes me to look at my dreams and decide if they are worthwhile of the time I have available..another friend just lost her fur child, he was a show dog a theory dog, a children's reading dog..I need to add more befit to others to my life..fortunately I have that dream too.

Annette Heath

Loved the story and am now full of questions but won't ask them here - except one! What do you do with the parsley pesto after you make it? Seems I purchase parsley for a recipe and then the rest goes to waste. I love tossing it w/thin spaghetti (cooked), olive oil, sliced tomatoes (canned are excellent also), bread crumbs made from toasted French bread slices (crushed) and walnuts. Of course fresh parmesan and romano,in a very warm skillet of course. Love the peau bananne tip - merci!

Kristin Espinasse

Annette, have been making parsley pesto since the basil is not ready. The parsley pesto is wonderful spooned over fish, potatoes, even bread! Or used as a sauce for pasta. 


Others have said it, but it is worth repeating. You are living your dream - not chasing it. Remember, it is not the destination, it is the trip. And we are so fortunate to have you share that trip with us, your lowly readers.

julie camp

You are so precious. -julie-

Kristin Espinasse

Woo-hoo, the comments are coming through. The previous one was a test.

Eileen, sorry to hear about the tick. Do you need to have this checked out?

Catharine, sending good thoughts to you and your friend. Thoughtful questions....


David, I hope everyone can say the same: that no matter where we are, we are living meaningful lives. No lowlies here! 

Dave, I hope those were orties--I have been hoping to find some and was about to order seeds. Poor Jean-Marc, though ;-)

joie in carmel-by-the-sea

About the wild boars....they can devastate a vineyard. Most of our vineyards here in Carmel Valley are fenced just for that reason. About 20 years ago some got into a vineyard of Chardonnay and that was it for that year.


Regarding Smokey and the boar: He could have driven off the boar on his own for sure. A brave kitty can even chase off a bear, as these 2 videos attest (the second in French): and

I never knew that about the inside of banana peels. Much cheaper than anti-insect-bite stuff!

I, too, get brain-needs-sugar cravings while writing, especially on deadline! I will try bananas, which are much healthier than the chocolate, honey, or jams I usually turn to.

Mara in Wisconsin

I'm behind in reading, so this comment really goes with the previous posting:
Julie Andrews singing "I Have Confidence"

And to help you project confidence whether you have it or not, Amy Cuddy.

Max Roberts

Beautiful dogs. Perfect for young children. What do they do now without small children's constant petting?

One of the handsomest I knew had a broad, dome-like head--about the size head expected in a bear.

His name was Goldberg. Goldberg lived in Hong Kong.

HK's many beaches and hiking trails agreed with him perfectly.

Smart pooch! And if he wanted to be petted he would let one know.

Betty Gleason

Loved the story except what in the name of all that is good & holy are you doing cleaning up after the spring breakers. #1 house rule is clean up after yourself (old enough to be on spring break, old enough to be responsible,) if you soil it you clean it; if you break it, you replace it. How else do you teach them to be good mates

Joan Clark

Your stories are always so endearing. The banana peel is the best. I have a granddaughter that suffers with migrains and one day at school the nurse told her that she had a cure for her headache and placed a banana peel on her forehead. Before long the head ache was gone. Well, since my husband suffers with terrible migrains often, and the only thing that helps is drugs but that bothers me a lot. I am always looking for alternatives but he is never quite ready to try new things. One afternoon one of those blasted head aches attacked him I suggested the banana peel, but like most men he pooh poohed the idea, but due to the pain and
after some encouragement, (glaring looks and huffing and puffing) he agreed. So he laid down on the floor and I placed the banana peels on his forehead. He is not a small man and that cute thing lying there in this prone position with his eyes closed, gritting his teeth which emphasized his huge dimples, with those lovely yellow jewels on his head was just too much for me so I had to take numerous pictures. My giggling woke him and he sat straight up. Before he could whip those peels off of his head I asked, "How is your head?" He looked at me with a look of surprise and said, "Oh my gosh, it's gone!" Then like a silly school girl that doesn't give much thought to consequences for choices we make, I showed him the pictures. I was not in his good graces for a day or so and NO he will not do the banana thing again. Is that not a great example of a "man" thing. He doesn't even admit that it helped. Oh well it's his head and his choice.


Hi dear Kristi,
Such beautiful pictures! And(!)(Needless to say!)wonderful story! Your descriptions had me laughing! Not at the unfortunate reason for the banana peels(!)but you have become a real master of ekphrasis!
There is not a better way to start the weekend!
Natalia XO


Hello Kristin,
I need help with some French terms involving wine -- and I think you may be the only person capable of helping me.
What is the difference between the words vigneron, récolte, producteur in the world of wine? We spend about 1/3 of our time in Franch aboard our small canal boat each year, and have yet to have a satisfactory answer to the differences between these words. They seem interchangeable on bottles of wine. We've even asked wine producers (in French!) to explain the differences, but the subtlety is lost on us.

Nancy, San Antonio, Texas

As always, very charming story though painful for JM.

My sister-in-law swears by toothpaste dabbed on bites/scratches.

Agree with Betty - old enough for spring break - old enough to clean up the mess they make. Happy dreaming!


Lovely story Kristin.
Last year I got stung by a hornet in Provence and had a nasty allergic reaction to it where my wrist and forearm just kept swelling for 3 days and was so hot and itchy it was unbearable, I was on the verge of going to hospital. A local organic farmer gave me a small bottle of his lavender oil to apply to the spot and within a few hours you couldn't even tell where I had been stung. Miracle stuff.

I bought your book a couple of weeks ago, thoroughly enjoying it, well done that girl.

Adeline Richarson Reunion Island

Nice story to start the weekend! Thank you so much, as usual!
Orties can be very painful and I'm glad we don't have them on Reunion Island. I don't miss them at all! One way to for Jean-Marc to take revenge is to eat their leaves in a soupe d'ortie !
As for bananas, we grow them in the garden and people here bury some chopped banana peels at the foot of their rosebushes. It's said to be a good fertilizer.
Have a nice weekend

Peggy Wright

I am enjoying reading "First French Essais," but something is missing!! Your personal inscription! "Words in a French Life" volumnes 1-3, all had a personal note from you. Then Chief Grape signed "Words---Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France" when he was visiting in Washington, D.C.

So, I look forward to Chief Grape (and, hopefully you) visiting D.C. again in the near future so I can get your personal inscription on your most wonderful book to date.

Peggy Wright

Oops. I neglected to mention that Chief Grape also signed "Blossoming in Provence" on your behalf.


My son decided to climb a palm tree in Florida a few month ago. What he didn't know was, the palm tree is toxic. He had splinters in his hands and feet. WHat he couldn't get out had to be removed at the ER, without numbing. He already had an infection in less than 12 hrs after the incident. So, a little warning, never climb a palm tree, or if you do, be covered head to toe.

Enjoying your book!!

Chris Allin


Some might find the view out your kitchen window very comforting.
And those sweet big soft brown eyes are so endearing. (I think I have
finally figured out a connection between the names Braise and Smokey.....
it took me a while~)

Kristin Espinasse

I think it was a kind of palm that attacked JM, now that you mention it. Glad your sons ordeal is over!

Chris, the connection is mere coincidence, and nothing to do with a cooking passion :-). Re the comforting view--even more so now that Smokey is home! The dogs managed to slip out while we had a housefull of guests. We just found out a neighbor threw rocks (very big rocks) at our stray dogs! Thankfully another neighbor rescued them, before one of the rocks broke their necks! Safe and sound at home now. Wishing you all a lovely weekend.


I loved your post today - of course, I felt sorry for J-M! I had hives once and I swear it was worse than childbirth, migraines, anything else I can think of! So, I hope he is doing much better - and cudos for you thinking of a good cure and for him, for agreeing to try it!!! There was such charm in today's post, I'm not really sure what all it was - but, it touched me deeply. Thank you!

BTW, when I travel with my grown daughter, first thing I do is find a fruit stand to buy her bananas for first thing next morning - sure cures the 'edgy grumpies' that sometimes creep up on her! I'm now going to try them on bites next time! So glad the dogs are safe. We are so missing our sweet kitty, Lucy, who passed away from a viral infection a few weeks ago - so I know what losing or even the thought of losing a dear pet can do to you! Glad the dear pups are home safe!

Kathleen from Connecticut


If it was nettle as David suggests that it might be, then there is a plant which grows next to it which will stop the sting. My mother thought that it would be funny to show me what nettle felt like while we were visiting Finland. I didn't know about the plant at the time.
I remeber having to take pictures of wild boar and had to go into the penned in area where they were being raised. My friend and another man were banging rocks to send them my way, so that I could photograph them. I asked what I should do if they ran right at me...jump out of the way was the answer...I said..of course..while holding my expensive camera and trying to jump away. Luckily I actually got some good pictures as I did multiple shooting. They are one ugly animal and scary!
I agree that it is time for the spring break guys to clean up their own mess. They need to be responsible and then they will make better husbands;-}
We have a pond with a water fall and 20 Koi and goldfish. During the winter we have a pump aerating the pond and the fish sort of go dormant. I'll send a picture.


Chris Allin

What a time you all have had, Kristin. Thank goodness for the good neighbor! Glad the dogs are home safe. I have always thought Braise is such a pretty name for a dog. So I looked up the translation and found "embers"....smokey... didn't even think of the cooking connection. Clever

Hope Jean-Marc recovered quickly. This story is really funny, but at his expense. He's a good sport!

Joan Linneman

Am I the only one who had to look up the word "ekphrasis"? It's a great word...
Joan L.

Jack Avery

It is always a delight to find your observations on wonderful France and her language. And the comments from your readers only adds to the treasure. Thank you!

"La trousse de premiers secours" is a first-aid kit. I've never been fond of bananas, having had then forced on me as an anemic child. Now I rather like them and enjoy their many benefits: ease of handling, food for roses, shoe polisher, etc., etc.

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