Best City in which to live? La Bonne Reponse...
Des Clopinettes & Old slang used by a new generation

Eplucher + More about friendship... and Bernard's Courgette Carpaccio!

zucchini courgette parmesan sunflower seed grain de tournesol pata negra iberian ham entree first course
Eplucher is the word of the day. You've got to peel a few zucchinis to make this easy recipe.... 


    :  to peel


Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French (English translation is above)

Il faut eplucher quelques courgettes pour réaliser cette recette fastoche....


by Kristi Espinasse

One reward of offering to help Bernard in the kitchen was learning a delicious, fast, and easy recipe. "Tu vas voir, c'est très facile," Bernard says, setting up our makeshift production line:  one of us will use the econome to cut ribbons from the courgettes, the other will chop parmesan and toss it over the cut zucchini, into the round metal ring (for an individual serving--this last piece is optional, but it makes a nice presentation once you--Ta-da!--lift the mold).

The hardest part about making Courgette Carpaccio is paying attention when you are an aloof sous-chef whose thoughts are éparpiller, or spread out, like ingredients along a messy counter...I love the messy counter! I love how Bernard is so relaxed about cooking. He seems grateful to have a volunteer. This is awkward. Nah, I'm fitting in. He's still not quite sure if he has all the ingredients. Wow, look at that fridge! He hasn't roasted the sunflowers seeds...Who cares! Food tastes better when made by friends! Uh-oh, I think he's waiting for the cheese crumbles. That's my job!....

"Désolee," I say to Bernard, explaining that I am absent-minded, sur la lune, by nature. What I really want to say to my husband's friend is that I am caught up in a bursting moment. And that is the other reward of helping Bernard in the kitchen, the chance to nouer les liens as they say here or se rapprocher, an area where, like cooking, the more you practice the better you get at it (by that I mean friendship).

I have to quit thinking in terms of "my husband's friends" or Pierre's or Susan's or (you name a friend's) friends. As a longtime expat or a newlywed or an old introvert or a young naval-gazer--whatever your challenge--tende la main d'amitié--reach out your hand and begin to reap the reward of friendship.

This post is dedicated to my husband and all of his friends who have been truly inspiring examples of amitié--and to my friends who truly know the meaning of this well-known citation:

Un ami c'est une personne qui reste dans ta vie malgré la distance et les années. A friend is someone who stays in your life despite the distance and the years.


Bernard's Fresh Zucchini Entrée.

Most recipes in this blog are au pif--by guesswork. I learned this wonderful phrase from my mother-in-law, the best cook on the planet.

To make this delicious entrée, or first course, simply layer the following ingredients (except the Spanish ham, with which you'll place beside the following mound):

- Thinly-sliced zucchini (use a regular  potato peeler or a Vegetable spiralizer
- parmesan (pound cut) - chop and crumble this over the zucchini
- roasted sunflower seeds - sprinkle on top
- swirl of olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Pure Bellota Iberico Ham

To comment on this recipe or story, find the link at the end of this post.

fastoche = easy
désolé(e) = sorry
Tu vas voir = you'll see
très facile = so easy
econome = vegetable peeler
nouer les liens = to bond, to strengthen ties
tendre to main = hold out one's hand
amitié = friendship
au pif = by guesswork

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Bonjour AuRevoir doormat

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une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwav
une cousinade = family reunion
la belle-mère = mother-in-law (also can mean "step-mother")
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
le soin = care
le mas = old French country-house/farmhouse
le livreur = delivery man
un agneau = lamb
le pois chiche = chickpea or garbanzo bean
le poulet = chicken
la canicule = heatwave

 This type of wash mitt, or gant, is the traditional washcloth in French homes

La ROCHE-POSAY sunscreen is rated top by Consumer Reports

Lisa playing petanque by the old cabanon with glass of wine on the roof in St Cyr-sur-Mer

Over the past week we have had the pleasure of spending time with several young people. Young people make great friends! Here is my husband's godson's girlfriend, Lisa, enjoying a game of pétanque here at our vineyard (we've not moved yet). Lisa is studying theater in Paris and would one day like to open her own theater.

Fred and Jules
And this is Fred, who just turned 90. 90-year-olds make great friends! Keep Fred in your thoughts and prayers, he will begin, now, to receive hospice care. Love you, Fred. You are an inspiration. You began learning French in your 70's, signing up for this blog when it first began and sending me your thoughts and encouragements along the way. I remember when you sent me a very long list of stories (blog posts) be considered for my story compilation. The time you sacrificed for a friend. Mille mercis for being such a great ami!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Clare Ronald

Funny how you often start your blog with the exact word that fits my life.
Yesterday I helped epluche 200 kilos of Pommes de Terre for our hamlet's Fest Noz.
People will come from far and wide to taste our Purée de Pommes de terre, as long as the rain holds off.
Thanks for the recipe, I have too many sun flower seeds and courgetttes so it is perfect.

Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

Great post and photos, ma belle amie! Love the wine glass on the roof of the cabanon. Isn't summer, with all the gifts it brings, just the BEST?


Your blog is like a pebble dropped in a deep pool. It sets off ripples of memory and more. Of my 2 English friends from 50 years ago who married Frenchmen and live in France while I stayed in England. What would we do without email and iPhone photos? And thoughts of end of life which will come to us all one day and of your dear friend Fred. Your tales are wonderfully evocative and touch the heart and mind. I dare not ask about the move but I am praying for a good outcome.

Joyce White

Thanks for this delightful post. It reminds me of my recent month stay in Aix-en-Provence with Smithsonian Journeys: Living in France program. A group of us chose to take cooking classes at "L'Atelier des Chefs". We used rings for several delicious creations from entrée to dessert. I was surprised at how much chopping into very tiny pieces was involved as well as the care that went into creating the beautiful tasty composition. The best part of the experience was the time cooking with new friends and then sharing what we created, with glasses of wine bien sur!


The one-line citation at the end of your blog, "Un ami c'est une personne . . .", I will be sending along to 2 very good friends who have stayed in touch over the years.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

It is hard to overcome the feeling of being the newcomer and inclining unnecessarily. The funny thing is that if you spoke about how you were feeling with all of your (husband's) friends, I'm sure they would be surprised to hear this. It us true, though, that real friendship has no age barrier.


A lovely story about friendship. It is true that with a good friend distance and time do not diminish the bond. As I have grown older, it has been a gift to become friends with my friends' adult children since I have known when they were very young. You gain different perspectives from those in their twenties, thirties and forties. And of course my 93 year old mom there is also my friend.


Hi Kristin,
As usual I thoroughly enjoyed your post. You truly have a gift for knitting words together for an entertaining read. The friendship quote at the end rings so true for me as I had dinner last night with a dear friend who is moving back to Hamburg at the end of August.
If I may make a small observation however, I would indicate in the vocabulary list that fastoche is slang for facile.
Wishing you 'un déménagement fastoche' when the time comes.

Lynn McBride

Great post, and also this is one of my favorite summer recipes. If you want to try another version, here is mine: use a Mandoline to get the zucchini really thin. Add a lot of fresh mint, chopped. I use toasted pecans instead of sunflower seeds, and a squeeze of lemon juice with th olive oil. The taste of summer!

Gail L from AZ

Love it! 90 year olds very much make great friends. I love this picture of him with Jules.
It's always a bonus when we get a recipe too! Thank you Kristi 😉

Patricia Sands

Love this post ... what else is new? Kristi, you are gifted at establishing friendship through your words and candid approach to life. I so admire you for that. Our last bottle of J-M's rosé is awaiting the appropriate special moment to be enjoyed. We will not forget to toast friendship with our first glass. And a special one to dear Fred, shared so lovingly by you with all of us.

Karen Cafarella

What a truly wonderful post. Friends warm out hearts. Keeping sweet Fred in my thoughts and prayers.

Sending love your way.


Merci beaucoup pour les recettes. Mon beau frère m'a donnée une courgette de 41 cm longue et je n'ai aucune idée de quoi faire! Ce matin j'ai cuisiné le yogourt cake fait avec les petits morceaux des poires et amandes. Yummy! 5 étoiles!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,
Thanks for this lovely post and I just love the photo of Fred and your Mom....they look so joyful. I will keep Fred in my prayers!

The recipe looks so yummy and also Lynn's version too! Can't wait to try them both!

It's so lovely to have friends of many different ages. Thanks so much for your friendship through this wonderful blog.

Linda Rea

Sounds awesome! Merci !!


Our dear Kristi,
This beautiful post today is beyond wonderful.
You(once again)wrap our hearts in hugs,remembering how family and friends give cherished meaning to our lives.
Special prayers for Fred.He adds warmth and wisdom!
Special thoughts of dear Jules who is an inspiration
And thank YOU dear Kristi,for the gift of being in our lives.
Natalia. Xo


Absolutely lovely in every way this sweet post Kristi. Mille merci's. Friends the true essence of a good life.

Lee Isbell

A month in Aix sounds lovely. Do they have other classes besides cooking? My taste for food and food preparation has greatly diminished with age, but it sounds otherwise delightful.

Gordon Lyman

You have many friends to share with Jean-Marc, thousands!

Polly Adkins

Such a joyous photo of your Mom and Fred! I could hear the music...
Polly Adkins, Caroline du Sud

Faye Lafleur

Love pic of your mom and Fred! What joyful souls both of prayer for beautiful crossing over for Fred!

Chef Katherine

Here's another delicious recipe for Zucchini Carpaccio. It's that time of year!

Bon appétit...

Brenda Prowse

Thank you dear Kristi for a most delightful post. A reminder that cooking and sharing meals with friends is a sweet sweet gift. I am off to the market to shop for Sunday dinner to share with French friends who have so enriched my life- as have you.. Merci beaucoup.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much Brenda, and to all who have responded to this post. As Gordon says, I have a lot of friends here and the thoughts you post are gifts of friendship. Thank you all for sharing. 💛

Clare Yeager

Perhaps I missed the part about cooking the casserole, or is it eaten raw? Bake? Oven temp? Duration? TY Clare

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