France's "Island of Beauty" and the expression "essuyer les platres"
apprendre à profiter de la vie + Patricia Sands novel set in Arles and Camargue

La Crève and Chili Basta! Fast and Easy Chili recipe with a Provençal twist

Corsica where the mountains meet the sea

Along with most of the rest of France, j'ai chopé la crève. I wonder how? Did I catch a cold while crammed into a stairwell with other ferry passengers on our way home from The Island of Beauty? Or, as my dentist suggested during a three-part "crowning" series (ma première couronne! I've got one more appointment to go...), did I catch a draft during mi-saison--when even the French don't know how to dress?

As I lie under a pile of blankets, with a sore tooth and a headache, my daughter appeared, having just returned from her job waiting tables (this time at a local campsite canteen). Speaking softly she asked if there was anything I needed. "Je peux t'ammener du thé? Quelque chose à manger?" Can I bring you tea? Or something to eat? Next Jackie informed me, "Tout le monde a la crève. Everybody's got a cold. (And, by the next day she had it too :-(

Then Jean-Marc began complaining of a maux de gorge.... Uh-oh spaghettio! 

Speaking of food, I have not lost my appetite so it must be, as Jackie guessed, la crève and not the dredded grippe, or flu. At the first signs of a sore throat, I wondered whether a hot or spicy soup would help? N'importe! Best to hurry and make something before symptoms got worse and there was nothing to eat in the house! A nourishing bean stew--coupled with fading vegetables from the farmers market--would get our family through the next couple of days.... I only needed to shop for one ingredient (the ground beef), but you may have another substitute (chicken, turkey, cubed porc...) available? Hopefully you have some onions and carrots lying around and a can of kidney beans? You are almost there....

CHILI BASTA (or chili "bye-bye" in bye-bye La Crève!)

350 grams of ground beef

Herbes de Provence (the "Provençal part!)

salt and pepper

2 carrots

2 peppers (I had one yellow, 1 red)

1 red onion

4 cloves of garlic

2 large cans (800 grams each) of tomatoes (mine were whole, in juice)

1 can of kidney beans (800 grams)

1 or 2 Tbsp of SRIRACHA SAUCE

1 tablespoon honey (I used Jean-Marc's vineyard honey)

=> Brown the meat, adding the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Transfer to larger soup pot. Continue frying the rest of the vegetables in oil, either together at once, or, as I did, peppers, the onion and garlic, then carrots....adding them to the soup pot.

=> Add two cans of whole tomatoes and their juice (I broke up the whole tomatoes with my hands). Then add the kidney beans, the honey, and the hot sriracha sauce. Let simmer for an hour (the longer the better). Bon appétit and don't forget to wear a nice écharpe to keep the drafts out and prevent  la crève!

What do you enjoy in your chili? I love to cut up cubes of cheese (I had emmental and delicious comté on hand) to add as a topping--this helps cool down a scalding hot chili.

listen to today's French phrase choper la crève:

Choper la creve

Spicy Chili basta on a bed of Corsican chestnuts or chataignes

Chili Basta on a bed of chataignes harvested in Corsica. Hey, chestnuts would be good in in this chili, too! Next time....

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Beaux Arts school in Toulon
Jackie, our 20-year-old daughter, begins her second year at art school. After living in Aix-en-Provence, where she studied design, she will now attend class in Toulon at the historic L'École supérieure d'art et de design Toulon Provence Méditerranée. Wish her bonne chance! (And wish the rest of us bon rétablissement...or "get well soon!")

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Kristi, I'm sending healing vibes to you and your family. I myself have just recovered from the dreaded cold, which left me bedridden for four days. During that time, I confess I enjoyed the opportunity to rest, all the while reminding myself of the importance of resting when feeling well, thus taking care to strengthen my immune system. Live and learn, she said. ;)

Bonne chance, Jackie, at art school! I hope the new school is everything you are hoping it will be, and more.


Hope you are all feeling better soon. And the dentist at the same time! 🌶 recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing. You had a busy summer. Maybe this "cold" rest will be good in the long run. Hugs all around.

Catherine Berry (But you are in France, Madame)

A soup is always a good idea. My mother had one on the go all through the year when I was growing up, even during our warm Australian summers. She would augment it each night with the drained vegetable water, so it was probably very weak, but clearly stretched our meagre family budget a little further. I still enjoy it in all seasons but it is especially comforting when I am not feeling 100 percent. Bon rétablissement.


The summer-fall transition is one long incubation period! I hope you're all on the mend even as I read this, and I wish Jackie success upon success as she begins the next phase of her education in Toulon! PS In high school French class, we learned rhume de cerveau for head cold and mal a la gorge for sore throat. I have a feeling that your words are more current???

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristi,

Hope you feel better soon and good luck to Jackie for a wonderful school year!
The chili recipe sounds delicious and I think I have everything except the ground beef. My daughter is vegan so I have been trying lots of vegan recipes so I haven't bought much meat lately.

Geraldine Ventura

Sorry to hear that you have this awful cold. I have had one lingering for over 3 weeks and am wondering if it is an allergy or a real cold as cold tablets have not helped. Hope the chili helps. We always had chicken soup as our cold healer but it has been so hot here in the Midwest that cooler foods were more appealing. Best wishes to Jackie! She seems to be very talented, so I'm sure she will have great success!

Mim (Richmond,VA)

Speedy recovery! I'm so excited for Jackie. As a former university art prof, I'm cheering her on.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Eileen, and to all who have sent bon rétablissement wishes. Your comments add an extra layer of warmth to all these blankets piled high.

Eileen, why not skip the meat and just add the cubes of cheese, which are nice and chewey. 👍


Bon chance Jackie! And, Kristi, please get well soon. Faites attention à toi. xoxo


How lovely that Jackie is so attentive and caring. My own adult children are pretty brutal - their line is, if you're really ill let's get you to the doctor or hospital (not likely!) otherwise .... not even a cup of tea. But my 4 year old grandson is really kind. I'm sorry you've been laid low Kristi. It took me about 50 years to recognise that mind and body are closely connected. I suspect your immunity system has been gradually weakened by months of stress. Hopefully rest and calmer waters now (my wish for you) will be all that's needed to get you gradually back en forme.

Judith Dunn

..Oh no! A rotten cold and toothache! The worst combo ever... may you get well soon! Jackie is on her way to a wonderful career in the world of Art & Design! Ahhh, to be young again and in Art School... as I was once back in the 60's and in New York City to boot! As for comfort food, whenever i have a lousy cold I make my Grandmother's old standby .....Ham and Potato chowder.. with a little onion and a tiny bit of garlic and parsley added in. I always feel instantly better! No doubt half psychologically, but who is counting? Chilli is another standby for a host of reasons, in all seasons here at our house... I do hope you are 'fit as a fiddle' very soon, and JM too! Judi Dunn, Tallahassee, Fl.

Lis Steeden

Hi Kristin,

Hope you feel better soon...I rarely have a cold, as if and when I feel a bit run down or people around me have colds, I always start my day, sometimes during the day as well as finishing my day with...with a thick slice of lemon, a biggish lump of freshly peeled ginger (you peel the ginger the easiest way with a tea spoon), a generous dollop of Acacia honey all in a big cup with boiling water...if it goes cold, just keep drinking it! If you go to Aix, I can tell you where you will get fresh and generous pieces of ginger at a very reasonable price...just got loads myself today! Still have the address in Aix for you and in particularly your daughter, which is full of young people, very good salads, tartines and juices...and at very reasonably by a lovely young English couple...only one fall down Alex's homemade cakes...and it's also one of the best coffee/tea cafés in Aix...wishing you a very speedy recovery! X

Teresa Ewart

everyone here has a cold - today at the market in Sainte-Cecile (!!!) we sold out of our VEGAN chilli... even though our customers don't much like spicy food, and aren't sure what vegan is... I've been meaning to send thanks to you Kristi - who knew after you helped me with my blog many years ago when I lived in London that I would end up living and working in this little corner of Provence...

Vicki Armstrong

I feel your pain! I, too, am down and out with the mother of all colds. Let the coughing begin. The only difference is that I am not agonizing in France, but chilly Canada. How nice for your daughter ..exciting days are ahead for her, for sure. I hope by the time you get this you are on the road to recovery, especially with the tooth..ouch.
I am off for a "cuppa" as they say in England. Love my morning reads from you blog . ..I think we call it "getting my vicarious kicks".

Kristin Espinasse

Margaret, You are not alone. My children are your usual Me Generation, as many of us were at that age. But they do, especially my daughter, have good sensors and seem to know when we truly need the compassion and caring. Sometimes they pick up on the signal before even we do. Which reminds me of the last note in your comment. Yes, the past year could be catching up on my system. Having read Katias note, above, I crawled right back into bed and am not feeling so guilty about it. Though Smokey could use a walk....

Kristin Espinasse

Judith, would love that ham and potato chowder recipe of your Grandmothers. You could even jot it down here in the comments, and we could all proceed, au pif, by guesswork, which is how I like to cook. 😎

Kristin Espinasse

Lis, thanks for the lemon ginger recipe, and for the reminder of the delicious place in Aix. Hope to meet you here some time.

David Kapsiak

I hope you all are better soon- thanks for the recipe!

Kristin Espinasse

Oh my goodness! You are in St Cecile-les-Vignes AND have a market stand? Wonderful update! Sending all best wishes.
P.S. this reminds me of our first harvest in Ste Cecile where I was in charge of feeding all the non meat-eating non dairy harvesters (mostly friends of my sister-in-law). I barely understood what vegan was, then, but soon found out!


Bon retablissement! Bon retablissement!
And, thanks for sharing that phrase!
I have caught it too, and just went into
my chest with a cough last night.
La soupe est tres importante a ce moment!
Repose-toi bien!!!

Saint Jivago Desanges

I used to get a cold every year when I lived in Los Angeles which has the worst air in the US. Now that I live in a small city in the low desert over 100 miles away from the smog and other pollution, I haven't had a cold in the last 4 years. Here is my recipe for when I used to catch a cold. At the first sign of a sore throat, I gargle with Listerine and warm water. Then I take bee propolis and astragalus, several thousand units of vitamin C (the body discards what it doesn't need) and I drink every day 2 to 4 quarts of hot herb tea mixed with fresh orange or lemon juice and lots of organic honey. I usually got rid of a cold in 3 or 4 days. You can Google the benefits of bee propolis and astragalus the later of which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Just call me Doctor Jivago. The movie, by the way, is one of my favorite films: Doctor Zhivago.
Stay healthy and happy,


Ah, those accent marks in French are so important. As I read the article about "la crève" I was mistakenly curious about it being the same word as flat tire, but that is "crevé." tricky. I always come back from Europe with a little cold. Mine was quick and I hope your crève is also.


Feel better soon!!! Get flu shot when you can.

Kristin Espinasse

Merci Doctor Jivago!

Trina from St. Petersburg, FL USA

Vegans don't eat cheese either. The recipe sounds yummy! I make a vege chili and add extra beans (usually mash one can for a thicker, creamier base) and ... sweet potatoes! You can partially boil, microwave, or sautee them first; whatever you see fit time wise.

Get well, Kristi! Stay well, everyone! Bonne chance, Jackie!

Brenda of SF


Now that is really "feeding a cold" with your fiery Chili;
So different from my family's mild, soothing Chinese chicken broth based congee remedy.
Whatever works...feel better soon!


Lee Isbell

I felt the tickle in the throat when I got on the plane for the US earlier this week. Despite mixing up a big bottle of fizzy Airborne to drink on the way home, the cough has hit full strength. It's hard to tell whether my nose is any runnier than the usual hay fever.
Melissa and I had a good rest-of-the-trip after we saw you, although our great visit to Ste Cecile was a bust. Trip Advisor was wrong about open and closed days, and the entire town was closed and empty when we got there, except for the Petit Casino, which is now called something else.
We loved our visit with you. Thank you so much for your hospitality. I hope I make it back to France again. It's year-by-year at this age.

Karen Rowlands

Wishing you a quick recovery Kristen....I'm in the middle of the 'couronne' process also, but my side effect is a large ulcer under my tongue 😩. Struggling, but not stopping me enjoying the delights of Provence....
Bon courage!

Andrea Hughes

Bon courage, Kristi! On sait toujours que ca va passer, n'est-ce pas! Du repos, c'est la meilleure solution!

Kristin Espinasse

Karen, oh, no ! That sounds painful. Bon courage 🌻

angela sergeant

Doh! I thought my comment had been posted.

Sorry to hear you are not well but I think that you have had a big upheaval in your lives this year - it'll time to adjust
and this always catching you out in some way. So, stay well and enjoy life. xx

Deborah Zajac

Ugh! I hope you all are feeling better soon!

I like both Kidney, and white beans in my chili then top with shredded cheddar cheese, and finely diced red onions. But when sick I like chicken noodle soup best.

Back when I started learning French I was taught the word rhume (nm) for cold. Crève is a new word for me. Are there rules for using one word over the other?


No onions? It can't really be called chili (of any stripe) without onions, no?

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Deborah, best to stick to rhume, crève is informal but very popular. 

Kristin Espinasse

Whoops! I thought I mentioned red onions--if not in the list, then in the instructions? 


Kristi - hope you feel better soon! Thank you for your chili recipe. I use a jar of black bean and corn salsa in my chili and a 1/2 can of packed pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling) in addition to the usual chili ingredients. Someone earlier mentioned putting sweet potato in chili.

Congrats to Jackie! You and Jean Marc are surely very proud parents.


I recommend Bee Propolis which was mentioned for colds, as a great help with mouth ulcers/canker sores. A little on a q tip at the first sign of a sore often stops it fast and if it has developed, I swesr it makes them go away faster. I get a little bottle of it at a health food store and dab it on many times a day. Miouth ulcers are so annoying!

Bruce Harry

Dear Kristi,

First, I wish Jean-Marc and all in your family bon rétablissement.

How much of the Herbes de Provence should one include?



Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Bruce--and a good tablespoon, for the herbes de Provence. 👍


What would the dreaded "man flu" be in French?
Better hope that doesn't realise - nothing worse!


Our dear Kristi,
Am so sorry to hear that you(all) are struggling to get over that miserable cold!Oh! MISERABLE is right!!!!
And, even worse, at the same time,crowns!!!
Sending prayers in full force to feel better and SOON.
But(!)despite all of this, what brought a smile to my face was your beautiful daughter offering you tea or food and nursing her dear maman to health again!!!
What a dear and loving thing to do!It just wraps itself around my heart!
(Something that has really been a help for us is using hand sanitizer every time we go the market or any public place where you touch stuff that other people touch.Do this all year long,especially in Summer,too,when the flu shots aren't in season.)
Thank you for this wonderful chili recipe!YUM!!Looking forward to trying it!
Must tell you that I made the nectarine crumble and it was heavenly!!!!
Natalia XO

Deborah Zajac

Ah, another case of Textbook French verses Real French speakers French. :) I do wish there was more "real French speakers informal French taught, b/c I think it would make speaking and comprehension a lot easier if both were in sync for learners.

That's my experience anyway.

Felicitations! To Jackie! I wish her all the best this year!

Jan Hersh

So long ago when I studied French I learned that a cold was called un rhume...nice to know a new word...if I ever need it. Feel Better Soon!


I find that October (you're only one day away, so I think it counts) is the worst time of year for colds! Hopefully you've just caught yours early this year and will soon have gotten it out of the way.

I find that sucking on zinc tablets at the first sign of a scratchy throat can help to short-circuit a cold. If you wait till the cold is in full force, zinc doesn't do as much. In the US I use something called Cold-Eeze; hopefully there's some sort of equivalent in France. The trick is to suck on the lozenges, not just swallow them. Give it a try if you can find them!

Here's hoping you and your family all feel better soon!

Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,

We so understand what you and Jean-Marc are going through. George and I have just recovered from serious colds. They knocked out his exercise schedule and put me in bed for two days. And he is having a crown put in after breaking a tooth! Seems these afflictions hit us no matter what age or location! You know you two will recover. I just hope it is painless from here on out and quick! Bless Jackie for her attentiveness. Wishing her a good experience at her new school!

Patricia Sands

Noooo! Get well soon, dear Kristi! Bon rétablissement!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Chris. I wil keep my eye eye for those in France. Jean-Marc has always used Fervex, from the pharmacy (no prescription required). It is a little envelop containing paracetamol and vitamin C and I dont know what else. I now use it too. 

Mary Eichbauer

Hi, Kristy,
I am a longtime reader of your blog (and lazy lurker, too, having posted maybe twice before). My husband and I spend a couple of months a year in France, usually in Paris, but this time we traveled south and stayed a week in Provence. We passed through La Ciotat. What a beautiful town you live in! When you're feeling all better, maybe you could introduce us to some of the neighborhoods and sites of interest there.

I hope you and your family recover from the "crève" very soon, before your delicious provençal chili runs out!

Suzanne Dunaway

Grind up fresh ginger, make a tea and sip it all day long. Bugs HATE ginger! But the chili sounds perfect, too. Being a Texan, I saw that it was definitely a la provencal....but really interesting.
Et bon rétablissement, bien sur.

Kim Arnold

Everyone here in Georgia is suffering, too! Quelle misère! I am on Day 9, and still coughing up unmentionable substances.

I totally agree with the Mind-Body connection. Our family lives in a state of fairly constant stress, living back and forth between opposite coasts because of health issues, among others. The stress was greatly exacerbated in August and September. The day after I returned from LA to GA, I was hit. My immune system had been wiped out by stress.

I think we stay strong and in "fight or flight" mode during immediate crises, but then, when there's some relief, our bodies scream "Enough!" Kristi, you have been through so much in the past couple of years; it is natural that your little body is begging for some "enforced rest."

Praying that you will be able to get some much-needed Sabbath rest, in addition to the physical rest.

I'd love to send you my oldest daughter's book (Hope Heals) for some get-well reading, if you're up for it. Please feel free to email me your new mailing address, and I'll get Amazon to send it.

Best wishes to Jackie on her new adventure!

Que Dieu vous bénisse,

Cindy Cripe

On dit: «Puis-je t’apporter du thé? au lieu de "amener du thé," n'est-ce pas?

Kristin Espinasse

Hi, Cindy, your example is correct. The way I have written is acceptable too, in spoken French. Next time I say this I will use your example, and impress my daughter :-) 

Bruce Harry

Merci, Kristi! I hope that Jean-Marc has regained full health!!!

Bruce Harry

Dear Kristi,

I have enjoyed your Chili Basta recipe immensely, and plan to prepare it several more times during our Winter! Thank you for sharing it with us.

Please forgive my next questions, but what is the literal French meaning of Basta (as in Chili Basta)? I believe in Spanish it means "enough" (and, you and Jean-Marc live closer to Spain than do I) but what is its meaning in French?

Merci, and Bon Appetit


Kristin Espinasse

Hello, Bruce, I am so happy to hear you like the chili. I made it again tonight, so we will have leftovers this weekend. As for basta, I hear it from time to time, from French speakers... but I believe it is Italian. I named my cold-be-gone recipe after it, to mean *enough! Scram! Get out of here!* -- in hopes the spicy chili would chase away la rhume, or la crève :-) 

Bruce Harry

Thank you, Kristi!

All my best wishes to you and your family, and best of luck in keeping away la rhume and la creve!

Warmest regards,


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