Fried Eggs in French, a Maman Poule, and a visit from Max
To be in limbo

Gigot: a surprise from our neighbor

Arbousier-strawberry-treeAn arbousier we planted behind our farmhouse. I first noticed these "strawberry trees" while visiting Corsica, where they are plentiful in the wild--as are boars, which gobble up the fallen fruit. More about sangliers in today's post.

TODAY'S WORD: un gigot

leg, thigh (of animal)

le gigot d'agneau = leg of lamb

hear Jean-Marc pronounce today's word: Download MP3 file

Un gigot. Hier, Annie nous a amené un gigot de sanglier.
A leg. Yesterday, Annie brought us a leg of wild boar.

Improve your spoken French. Try Pronounce it Perfectly in French or  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristi Espinasse

After writing Monday's post about une maman poule, I went to take a nap. No sooner did my head hit the pillow when Smokey began barking. Golden retrievers, I learned this week, have something in common with another beloved dog--the Pembroke Welsh Corgi: they only bark when necessary. So what was necessarily lurking outside our farmhouse?

Alone in the house--fueled by the adrenaline of someone who reads way too much Google news--I raced to the door and demanded,"WHO. IS. THERE!!!" when a soft voice answered,

"C'est Annie...."

"Oh, Annie! " I said, apologetically.

Throwing open the door I had to shoo Smokey aside, so interested was he in the bag Annie was holding. "Allez, déhors Smokey!"

"Rentre. Rentre, Annie," I said, ushering in my neighbor who was weighed down by a large sack which she held in her right hand.

"We just caught a sanglier," Annie explained.

My face must have been as white as our kitchen sink, beside which Annie set down that pig--or a part of it.... (But which part?)

"Je n'en peux plus. I am exhausted," Annie said, recounting the morning's battue, in which her nephew shot one of the wild pigs which had been wreaking havoc on her property--eating all her butternut pumpkins and noshing on the flowers right beneath her window! "Forget growing potatoes," Annie always warned me, "they'll devour them! And be careful with Smokey!"  (One of Annie's dogs lost his back end after a wild boar attacked it.)

I have heard all the sanglier stories and feared the day those wild boars would visit us, but in the four years we have lived on this hillside we have not been bothered by the boars. Though we have been given plenty of them to eat....

As Annie gifted me the still-fresh meat, I thought of the other leg of boar I had just crammed into my freezer (another unexpected visit from a hunter, these visits began years ago when a stranger showed up with a full-feathered pheasant--handing it to me upside down, by the feet! Do I look like someone who knows how to process a wild meat?).

I wouldn't tell Annie about the other boar, and so diminish her offering. And I wouldn't mention that we had no more room in our freezer (I was going to write a post about "freezer mismanagement"--and certainly vegetarians would have preferred that to today's anecdote about a wild pig roast! But after Friday's "no comment on elections" story I realize you are damned if you do and damned if you don't!

One thing I know for sure: I will be damned if I let this wild boar die in vain! What's done is done. And though I would not shoot a boar, I will not be a hypocrite who buys plastic-wrapped meat at the butcher's, yet cowers before the fresh-caught version.

No, I will be a coward who will prepare and cook this gift!

Before Annie left, she paused to offer an explanation. I recognized the explanation as the kind of justification you give after offering someone something that cost you a lot, something the receiver might not be prepared to accept as they have nothing on them to offer in return.  To avoid any such embarrassment, Annie thoughtfully pointed out,

"Thank you for the firewood and the bread and the tea for my daughter's fibromyalgie..."

I vaguely remembered the offerings, which seemed insignificant at the time. But from Annie's gesture (my neighbor, 25 years my senior, had wrestled a wild pig for me!), I know that every single time you give to someone, a debit is recognized. It is la dette de gratitude.

Picture of this week's supermoon taken behind our farmhouse. There in the pine forrest, the sangliers roam.

That time Annie gave me a rabbit and I learned to cook it ! (Recipe here)

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Bruce in NW CT

What a wonderful story! And I agree with you 100 percent — The boar had already been shot; refusing the gift would have done nothing except insult Annie. And if one eats meat, one should be able to own up to where it comes from.

Of course, any hunters — and plenty of my neighbors are hunters, too, although more of deer than of boar — any hunters reading this are laughing at the namby-pamby excuse-making, while the more militant vegetarians and vegans in the audience are disgusted no matter what you and I write.

Personally, I love pork, and I'm dying to know what boar tastes like. I wish I could take that extra gigot off your hands.

Patty Cargill

I love this story! How it takes us right back to life today, out of thinking about all the news swirling about, and into the forests, wild animals, on into the kitchen and the art of cooking! Goodness, I wish I could be there to help prepare Annie's gift! Thanks, Kristi.


Our 8 month old puppy, Marcel (named after the writer Marcel Pagnol who lived in our town of Tarascon), who I got from a Frenchman who keeps dogs for hunting, and therefore has hunting in his genes, came back with a dead pigeon in his mouth the other day, which he dropped in front of me. I was temped to leave it behind in the woods for the wild animals, but then decided to get over my squeamishness and googled how to prepare a pigeon. It was quite fascinating dressing the bird and finding whole acorns and berries in its crop. I then cooked it and even though there wasn't a lot of meat on it, invited some friends over for a taste. It is actually a very natural way to eat meat, and all those berries and acorns made it taste quite yummy. Looking forward to whatever Marcel brings back again, probably not a Sanglier, but maybe a lapin or phaesant.

Ken from NH

We have rented a house in the Lanquedoc and plan to do some hiking in the area. I have read about several sanglier incidents recently in our area. Your post started me thinking. How concerned does one have to be when hiking in France? Would it be necessary to carry a hunting knife for protection? I would be grateful for any advice from you or your readers. As always, thoroughly enjoy the blog.

Mike Young

One of the things that makes me come back and back is to have my aging memory refreshed. "Gigot" did just that. I knew that I knew the word but it was only when I saw it in context "Gigot d'agneau" that I remembered its English translation.

I'm about to visit my daughter in New Zealand (no, not too near earthquakes) and I love it that technology will let me keep on remembering Frwench, just as I do at home.

Mille merçis Kristi.

Angela Bell

Beautiful post, Kristin, although 'c'est effrayant' to think of all those sangliers tramping through your gardens. There's a similar story in "A Year in Provence" -- un renard -- for which i now have a more complete context. It would be fun to know how you prepare le gigot!


Wouldn't it be funny to regift a boar's leg? I know, I know, Annie might find out, and that would not be good! But if you are out of freezer space, perhaps there is a soup kitchen somewhere that would like to have it?

I once took a chance and ordered boar bolognese in a Florence, Italy, restaurant that was so good it is one of those few memorable meals that one thinks about from time to time.

As for your election column, I applaud you for what was, in my mind, a successful walking of a tightrope. I don't read a lot of the columns, so I was unaware of negative comments. We were in France at the time of the results, and there was much gnashing of teeth by European friends over the way the world is heading. And that's all I will say!


I meant I don't read a lot of the comments, not columns. I read all the columns!

Leslie Ficcaglia

J'adore sanglier - mais cuit, bien sûr! But what tea is good for fibromyalgia, pray tell? I have friends who suffer!

Nan Rasor

Kristin, this brought tears to my eyes! With GRACE you accepted her offering! So often we say "thank you", but how often do we do it with actual grace? To me what's even more profound, is the grace you showed for something you didn't even want but took it knowing that she also felt a gratitude to you for being her friend.

Sue Lennox

Kristi! You have left us hanging! How did you cook yon sanglier? Did you have to marinate it for its wild taste? (Does it HAVE a wild taste?). I remember years ago my mother cooked a wild duck and I think she put bacon on it while it roasted. Bonne journée1

Bettye Dew

Wonderfully written essay, Kristi. So glad that Annie made a new appearance, for I am fond of this "character" from previous post. She resides in my imagination, together with her property and animals, thanks to your vivid past descriptions. When we feel worn down because negative human traits seem triumphant, we should think of goodhearted souls like Annie. I am so glad she came knocking at your door to remind us of simple acts of generosity and kindness.

My family and friends prefer fried eggs "over easy" (not sunny-side up) -- how do you say THAT in French?


... So I clicked on the link to your "no comment on elections" and read all the comments. And now I want to comment... How would it be if we said what we like about the people who did not vote the way we did? So here goes: what I like about those who support the President Elect is how they have spoken up on the hurtful effects of the 21st century economy on huge numbers of people. This wasn't news, but I have heard it in a different and more direct way as a result of this election. Thank you for speaking to these home truths.


Kristi, I love all your stories about Annie. She sounds like a lovely, dear lady, and a strong one, being able to wrestle a wild boar! As for learning to cook wild meat, I'm sure google is your friend. :) I wouldn't know how to approach the task, but perhaps we can learn from your experience, if you will share it with us? Enjoy your dinner! Bon appetit!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Love the story today and I love your beautiful watercolor scarf! Enjoy the wild boar...I have never tasted boar meat!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

Such gracious appreciation you showed toward Annie's kind gesture. Actually, I think cleaning and preparing her gift is the ultimate show of appreciation. Perhaps Annie will be able to add some rescued vegetables from her garden as she prepares her own gigot.

And that makes me wonder if the wild boar even have access to your raised beds? If not that was a brilliant move to your garden design.

Sometimes it seems that the deep roots you and Jean-Marc have planted at Mas des Brun go beyond the igrapevines, vegetables and flowers, possibly growing into the very essence of what your land really might be...a connection beyond explanation. You certainly have been posting some lovely pictures lately.

Don Rory

I hunt sanglier in California. The meat, if properly prepared, is fantastic. The trick is to cook it to 135 degrees farenheit internal temperature - higher and it will dry out and be chewy. Dont fear pink meat! Boar muscle is generally very lean on the noble cuts (whereas the shoulder has more marbling), and the fat tends to be on the exterior of the muscle to protect the boar. You should let it sit in a bucket of ice water with some lemon juice, or simply in a pan in the refrigerator, for a few days to let the blood drain out to prevent it from tasting gamey. Sou vide is a great way to cook it. Roasting, smoking and braising too. Should it have more fat in it or on the exterior you could try a carnitas dish. I do that with the shoulder, or a lean leg if I add some fat back.

My carnitas recipe follows:

* 4 pounds fatty pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
* 3 cups water
* 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
* 1/2 orange, cut into 2 pieces (just fruit, not peel)
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* 8 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3 bay leaves
* 1 tablespoon sweetened condensed milk (I use honey instead, since I already have it)
* 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican, crumbled
* 2 teaspoons fine salt, or 4 teaspoons kosher salt

Put all the ingredients in a wide 6-to 7-quart heavy pot (don't worry if the pork is not completely covered) and bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer vigorously (uncovered), stirring occasionally, until the pork is fork-tender and the liquid has completely evaporated, 1½ to 2 hours. Discard the orange pieces and bay leaves. Roughly shred with forks.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Transfer the pork to an ovenproof dish and brown the pork, uncovered, in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes. There's no need to stir. Or hit under broiler until a bit of char is going. Serve on tortillas with guacamole, and/or cheese, and salsa or chilles/bell pepper/cactus strip sautee.

Gail Pisut

You are such a delightful woman. I love reading your posts. If we were neighbors, we'd be friends for sure!


We have had wild boar and you must cook it a while to get it to break down. It was made into a stew and very delicious. Hope you enjoyed it.

I have photographed wild boar who were in a very large (at least 2 football fields) fenced in area. The man rasied them to later release and hunt. I did a rapid shoot as they ran right by me. a bit scary. This was in the Quercy area of France.


Frederick Caswell

Thanks for another pleasing story which gently reveals your lovely humanity. I do not like to give advice in my comments, only support, but I feel a need to offer one. Being someone who has always loved to eat but now am struggling to find a diet that is not only helpful for my kidney disease but also tastes at least pretty good -- FOR ALL WHO EAT WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS, AVOID JUNK FOOD, EAT HEALTHFULLY AND ENJOY!!!


I love your stories! I hope you don't move!

Jan Hersh

One of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life was out in the country in central France. We found a bed and breakfast that also provided dinner on our way from the Dijon area back to Paris. Although I got my BA in French I could not understand the word for dinner's main course. With a big smile the concierge led me to a big room where the stuffed head of a Sanglier decorated the wall. I was thrilled to taste the meat. It was tender and sliced thinly with a rich wine-infused gravy and served with potatoes.
Your post brought that wonderful memory back to mind. I hope you will enjoy your gift!


Ann Burrell has a wonderful wild boar ragout recipe online. I made it last year and it was ok. This year, with more experience, it was wonderful! Enjoy!



Our dear Kristi,
What a wonderful post today!(as always!)
Your words not only gave us both food for tummies and heart(!)but reminded us of the joy of doing something nice for someone else with no other motive in mind except the pleasure and joy of doing it.(remember Aesop's Fables?"No act of kindness is ever wasted")(?)
You and Annie are wonderful neighbors and blessed to share this friendship.
Thank YOU,dear Kristi,for sharing with us!
Natalia. xo

Sue LAthrop

Oh Kristi,
I read this post with much interest, as I was bitten by a sanglier, or as they are known in your former home-state of Arizona, -- a javelina!! The doctor at the urgent care facility told me that in his 20 years as an emergency doctor, mine was the first javelina bite. (Dubious honor). By the way, we were on vacation in Tucson, walking home from the swimming pool, on the sidewalk of the resort where my incident occurred. The resort does border BLM land.

Anyway, I obviously lived to tell the tale, and it does make a great one when in a group situation when asked to tell something that most people don't know about you. :-) I had to have the rabies shot series, and my leg healed with a nice big scar. But almost worse than the wound were the bruises made by the javelina's tusks.!!

One bright note-- it was nice that the iPhone emojis included a wild boar so I could better describe to my friends back in Colorado just what kind of beast attacked me!!


A beautiful picture of you, Kristin.

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristi

Just some information: Although similar in appearance, a javelina is not a pig, a feral hog or a wild boar. Technically, it is a collared peccary. There is a hunting season here in Arizona for them and people do eat them, but I'm told that they are not very good.

Another item: When I had my heart surgery four years ago, the doctors replaced my aortic valve with a porcine (pig) valve. Now I go oink! oink! every once in awhile.



Kristi, Enjoyed the wild pig story. In a similar vein on Ian Lind's blog ( there a Nov. 16 2016 entry of a wild pig attack in Hilo Hawaii. It makes for lively and cautionary reading!


There are no arbousier (arbutus, strawberry trees) in northern NY, as far as I know. Is the fruit good for jam or tarts?
A few years ago, in Central France, I bought some sanglier at a stall on market day and brought it home for lunch. I found it tasted fine, not much different from pork.

Suzanne Dunaway

kIf you want a good recipe, just ask. The wild boar were coming into the ritzy neighbourhood of Roma, Prati, just a few months ago and hunters had to go and get them 'out'...
Marinate the meat at least 2 days in red wine, a clove, onions, garlic, and a few juniper berries.
Then you can begin to think about starting to figure out how to cook it, haha.
It's easy, really.


Love this post!


My daughter has a Pembrooke Welsh Corgi, "Mr. Spock", he only barks to play, warn, or enter the house.

He has the heart of a lion, knows no fear, and is fiercely loyal.

joie in Carmel

pepper spray would work just fine and deter the animal instead of killing it.

joie in Carmel

I also could not kill an animal unless defending my life or in the face of dying from hunger. But, as you said, you go to the market and buy meat, and wild meat is so much less tainted. I had canard last night out for my good(but even better was the French Basque mousse with olive oil and black and pink salt on the side...) Anyway, I would probably make a good stew by just braising it and then adding lots of your wonderful vegetable and either potatoes, or make polenta to serve with it. Rustic, simple and good....and don't forget the garlic and invite some friends to partake in this special dinner.

Diane Young

Your are to be congratulated for having learned to eat French food, which I could never do with my "medium well done" requirements. But a sanglier! Now that takes real courage. You are a lovely person who never wants to hurt anyone's feelings, and that is a wonderful quality. Vive Mme!

Ken from NH

Good idea! Is pepper spray legal in France? It is not in some areas of the US. Thanks, Ken

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