Another way to get French strangers to talk to you + Canne à pêche
Family Safe in Mexico + Secret to traveling/working in France at the age of 90!

Brugnon...or nectarine? (A two word hint: sticky pits) + bee or wasp?

Brugnon nectarine tree loveseat yellow flowers (c) Kristin Espinasse
The word brugnon is used when the pit sticks to the flesh, whereas the word nectarine is used when the pit is free. In English and in other languages, only the word nectarine exists, whether or not the pit sticks. Listen to the sentence in French, below. (photo: A brugnonier, or nectarine tree, at our former vineyard.)

un brugnon

    : nectarine

Audio File: listen to Jean-Marc read the French sentence, below.

Download Brugnon 2

Le terme brugnon est alors utilisé lorsque le noyau adhère à la chair, tandis que le terme nectarine est utilisé lorsque le noyau est libre. En anglais, et dans d'autres langues, seul le terme nectarine existe, indépendamment de l'adhérence du noyau. -Wikipedia 


by Kristi Espinasse

I am getting ready to make a third crumble this week. It's been a lively one, this past semaine, with old friends, new departures (I've begun riding my bike again!), and a very itchy and swollen pied gauche. I was stung by something on Tuesday, while heading out on foot to the farmers market....

I had just put on my trusty yellow sneakers (a hand-me-down from Jackie, the baskets are really orange and only appear to be as yellow as my kitchen) when I felt the most painful piqûre on the top of my foot. MY first thought after what in the heck, was I hope this is one of those good stings!

I searched the ground for a flailing bee (and the top of my foot for a stinger), but saw nothing.... and thought nothing more about it until the coming restless night. My foot itched terribly. The next morning it began to swell and swell.

That day artist and teacher Tess, and my friend Lee came for lunch, along with Lee's daughter Melissa.  "Are you sure it wasn't a spider?" Tess said.

Was a toothy araignée lurking inside my trusty (can they still be trusted?) tennis shoes? But araignées don't sting do they? The shoot of pain I felt was definitely a sting and not a bite!

"Keep your eye on it and if it doesn't get better get to the doctor," my friend urged. Tess rummaged through her purse and, tada!, produced a tube of Anthisan... I had never heard of it before. "You can only get it in England," Tess said, and her singsong response made me wonder what other remedies the English kept in their medicine cabinets?

"I'll  squeeze some on a plate," I said, but Tess insisted I keep the entire tube. I'm glad she did because I had to keep applying it throughout the day and night.

The next morning Jean-Marc and I headed to the old port here in La Ciotat. When I suggested we ride our bikes, he was pleasantly surprised (I have not been on my bike since we lived in Ste Cécile...).  

New bike in ste cecile

    Eight years ago in Ste Cécile...

The swelling in my foot had gone down and I carefully tied the tongue of my baskets back, with the help of my shoe laces. My swollen ankle had more room this way and the bite marks could better heal. A very tight bubble began to rise above those bites (or stings?). Running my finger across the "cloque" (as Jean-Marc called it) I wondered whether to listen to my husband (and pierce it) or leave my body's defense system to finish the job it had begun.

Wooden ramp in la ciotat seafront

There on my bicycle for the first time in years, I followed my husband who lead us along the boardwalk, down a bumpy wooden ramp to the sea and back up to the old port. We parked our vélos on one of the docks.... to check out a little boat... and then continued into the old town to buy some needed liquide vaisselle and some amandes effilées for the crumble I wanted to make.

As I rode my bike I noticed how an already colorful La Ciotat was even more vibrant.  The rush of happiness could only be explained by one of three things: getting back on that bike, time with friends, or that high voltage bee or wasp sting (I like to think that intense shot of pain amounted to something. But if it didn't, don't burst my bubble! (as I said to Nurse Jean-Marc who I'm sure was just dying to stick a pin in me).

*    *    *

French Vocabulary

les baskets = sneakers or tennis shoes
la semaine = week
le pied gauche = left foot
une piqûre = sting, bite
une araignée = spider
liquide vaisselle = dishwashing liquid 
une amande = almond
effilé = flaked

  Cut up nectarines or brugnons for a crumble or pie

Easy Crumble aux Brugnons

6 - 8 nectarines quartered, then cut into smaller quarters

Squeeze of lemon 

1 cup flour 

1 cup sugar (you can use half as much...)

1/2 cup butter (I used salted) 

2 tbsp oats (optional) 


Sliced almonds or other nuts

Put the cut up nectarines into a baking dish and squeeze some lemon over the fruit. Put one cup of flour into a medium-size bowl and add the cut up pieces of butter. With your fingers press the butter and flour together continually until you get a breadcrumb consistency. Add  the sugar, sliced almonds, cinnamon and oats. Mix together before spreading the topping over the fruit.

Bake at 350f or 175C for 35-40 minutes 

Kristi riding bicycle

Last Thursday, riding towards the old port of La Ciotat.

Still reading? Don't miss the story "gribouiller" about Jackie and her handy tip for getting a pen to work! She is around 7 years old in the story... and can you believe she will turn 20 on Monday, September 18th? This reminds me of some good news I forgot to share: our daughter was accepted into art school in Toulon. Félicitations, Jackie!

If you are new to this word journal, you might enjoy the book Words in a French Life. It makes a good gift for a French learner or anyone interested in France.

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