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French Mothers Day + J'ai la dalle - my son keeps saying this. What does it mean?

Hammock and Smokey
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Today's phrase: avoir la dalle

 : to be hungry

Click here to listen to the following sentence:

J'ai la dalle. J'ai la dalle. Maman, j'ai très très faim...il n'y a rien à manger dans le frigo! -Max
I'm hungry. I'm hungry. Mom, I'm really really hungry....there's nothing to eat in the fridge!


    by Kristi Espinasse

The eve of French Mothers Day, my son and daughter appeared. I had been making dinner for their father (due home from work at the wine shop in the next hour), when suddenly our omelette-for-two became an occasion to casser la croûte

As we shared scrambled eggs (my omelettes so often end up this way...) the kidults came up with ideas for Mothers Day morning:

"I'll get up early. We can have coffee together before I leave for work!" Jackie's offer conjured up a cozy garden scene, the two of us curled into chairs drinking café-au-lait, birdsong in the background.... "And we can go to the beach for a swim...." 

Not to be outdone, Max offered to take me to lunch, to Bandol, where his sister works. Talk about a perfect Mothers Day plan!

Max is 23 now and Jackie will be 21 in September
   Our kidults, Max and Jackie.

Mothers Day morning, Jean-Marc headed back to Marseilles for his Sunday shift at the cave à vin. Meantime, my daughter overslept...with just enough time to peck me on the cheek, before hurrying out the door....

Max was passed out in his bed after returning home from la boîte de nuit at 5 a.m. I'll let him sleep until 11, I thought, and then we'll head out to the restaurant. It'll be crowded in Bandol, but Max will drop me right in front of the establishment, in true Mothers Day favor!

En attendant, I decided to putter around the garden and enjoy my fête....and that's when I discovered our carport was empty. No cars! Oh, yeah, that's right: I'd forgotten the three of us are now sharing one car (ever since Max sold his, before he began his exchange program in Mexico!)

Oblivious to our stranded situation, Max lavished in his sleep while I began to wonder about lunch--and so did Smokey--my ever-accountable, always ready to celebrate 3rd child.

The restaurants in our area were booked for la Fête des Mères. I decided to décongeler a few hamburgers from the freezer. I began frying some onions.... Adding the viande hâché, and some rice, I let the ingredients cook through while collecting some salad greens from the garden beds (which are literally beds--made up of our son's old bed frame and its sliding drawers!) 

I woke my son in time to enjoy lunch out on the porch, beneath the flowering pepper tree. "It's delicious," Max said. I really love the sauce, he added.

"Those are caramelized onions with honey," I pointed out

"But, I have to tell you something, Mom...." Max said, staring into his empty plate. "J'ai la dalle!"

So that is what he had been murmuring all week, "I'm hungry!" Well, I don't feel too sorry for him. There's something called a frigo here in our house, and there's food in there. Donc, sert-toi, mon fils! 

casser la croûte = to break bread together
la boîte de nuit = nightclub
en attendant = in the meantime
décongeler = to thaw, defrost
la viande hâche = hamburger meat
j'ai la dalle = I'm hungry
le frigo = fridge
sert-toi = serve yourself
Kristi Espinasse (2)
Mon cadeau pour la fête des mères, from Max (Jackie gave me a beautiful bouquet, on American Mothers Day, a few weeks earlier)

Look at that bracelet! Max is forgiven for not taking me to the restaurant by cab, by bike (seated on the handlebars, wheee!), by piggyback, or by puce (we could've hitchhiked). This reminds me of something my belle-mère would've said, to make us all laugh. Which reminds me, encore, how much we missed Michèle-France on French Mothers Day, and every day. 

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