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Entries from July 2018

Grignoter & Cochonnerie: What it really means when your family says, "There's nothing to eat in this fridge!"

PPWTJuillet2018-Palma-ad
Thank you very much for clicking on the flyer above, from my friend and sponsor, Tess! Several of you have enjoyed her Paint in Provence tours. Hopefully more readers will discover Tess's colorful Provence! 

Today's Word: cochonnerie

    : junk food
    : mess, crap, rubbish, junk

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc pronounce these French words:

Les bonbons, les restaurants de nourriture rapide, les boissons sucrées sont souvent des cochonneries.
Candy, fast-food restaurants, soda pop...are often junk food.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

    by Kristi Espinasse


The fishmonger listens. She will come out from behind her stand and, before a table of 100 glazed-over eyes as our witness (fresh-caught sea bass, langoustines...), she will listen to your heart, your troubles big and small.
 
My Mom is here now, ” I began.
 
“I know,” the fishmonger said, her long yellow braid glistening like so many metallic cords on an old-fashioned switchboard.
 
"You know? Well..." I continued, "I found my mom standing in front of the frigo last night at midnight. 'There’s nothing to eat in here'...she said." 
 
Rien à manger? The words rattled me, as they do when my adolescents (now kidults) used to say them. After 21 years of making sure there was something to eat, I can no longer take this pressure. What's more, I'm supposed to be an empty-nester now. But recently, everyone--including my own mom, has flown home... And the pressure is on again! 
 
Shaking with frustration, I stood there, the moonlight shining into the kitchen window as I enlightened mom, who had a case of the Midnight Munchies.

"Mom, look! There's a roasted chicken. And there, over there--an omelet I made for you earlier today... And there is some mozzarella. You could slice it to go with the giant heirloom tomatoes right there on the counter... And I see three yogurts, two packages of Emmental, some jambon de Parme (admittedly a bit dubious in appearance...how many weeks old could it be? But then dried ham is immortel, isn't it?)
 
After I'd pointed out so much evidence of the bounty that was ours if only we would open our eyes, Mom looked as though she'd just been dragged through our garde-manger by the ear! (I admit I can be pretty intense when trying to get my point across! But Mom's next words softened my perspective...). 

"Honey, I can't see very well..." 
 
*    *    *
"Still, I just don’t understand," I said to the fishmonger, "why, after I’ve brought home 150 worth of groceries does my family still insist, "Il n'y a rien à manger"? 
 
The fishmonger shook her head in commiseration. 
 
"My daughter enlightened me," I continued, the fishmonger's attention ever rapt. "My daughter said, 'Mom, when we tell you there’s nothing to eat, what we mean is there’s nothing to grignoter. No ham, no surimi (artificial crabsticks!), no sliced bread, no chocolate pudding...'"
 
The fishmonger shook her head, summing things up. "What they’re saying is: Il n'y a pas de cochonneries a manger! (There's no junk food to eat!)
 
As if on cue, from behind the fish stand where he sat on a stool facing the portable fan on this sweltering day in July, the fishmonger's husband, cried out:
 
"Chérie, can you go next door to the supérette and get me some rum raisin ice cream?"
 
With that, my confidant and I burst out laughing, and kissed each other goodbye--I, on my way to buy cochonneries, and she, headed out for the same goal: simplement de faire plaisir à ce qui on aime, simply to please those we love, whether we agree or not with their tastes.
 
--
Post Note: As I read the rough draft of this story to Mom, she wanted to clarify something: "You know that "mozzarella"? Well, I didn't know what it was. When I picked up that package it felt really really creepy--like a body part, a breast or something!

I think Mom is referring to the way the ball of mozza floats in a sack of water. They don't sell it that way back in Mexico.... I leave you with a video of my Mom. (click on the arrow in the Instagram photo, below) You'll see some more news....

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le frigo = fridge
rien à manger = nothing to eat
grignoter = to snack
le garde-manger = pantry
jambon de Parme = Parma ham, dried ham
immortel = eternal, undying
cochonneries = junk food

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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It's all the rage, in French: Beer & Tarts (Tarte à la tomate et à la moutarde) A sure favorite so don't miss this!

Ecole-de-la-biere

Today's expression is inspired by a few choice words in the (clickable) flyer above. Thanks, Julie, Daniel and Arthur, of L'Ecole de la Bière in Nice, for a cool phrase to share in French. 

faire fureur

    : to be all the rage

Cela fait fureur. It's all the rage. Click the link below, to listen to this sentence 

Faire fureur

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

Mom arrives tomorrow. Demain! I need to tidy her room (she'll take Max's until we can move her into the wine cellar). I also need to figure out a meal plan and maybe bake a cake...or why not a tart? I just got the idea from Betty, who emailed me this:

Kristi,

I just made your La Tarte à la Tomate recipe for about the 20th time. Every time I remember the evening at the Shakespeare Bookstore. How wonderful that was. I’m going to try the gougeres recipe soon. I don’t do much cooking and I really appreciate the easy recipes. I hope everything is well with you. On ne s’ennuie jamais, c'est vrai.

--Betty Davis in Atlanta


Thank you, Betty! And for anyone reading, here's the link to this super easy tomato tart.

P.S. The last time I made it I was inspired by the Tarte Tatin method--in which you bake the pie à l'envers! This kept the crust nice and crispy. It also made a colossal mess in my kitchen... Next time, I will not change techniques midway through the process. (Imagine flipping a pancake--only you're flipping an entire pie. Aïe, aïe, aïe!

FRENCH VOCABULARY
demain = tomorrow
les gougères = cheese puffs
on ne s'ennuie jamais
= never a dull moment
à l'envers = upside down
Aïe, aïe, aïe! = ouch, ouch, ouch!

Tomatoes
Tomatoes from our garden, and Smokey Dokey--my happy gardening assistant.
Our son max fishing
Another picture of the beach I wrote about, in the floaters post. That's our son, Max, and his new harpon, or spear gun. He didn't catch anything, so it was rice and grilled veggies last night :-)

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Seeing spots? Relax, those are floaters! Les corps flottants et le champ visuel....

Paris postcards guy thomas hibbert
The unique sights, smells, and sounds of Paris are the luminous backdrop to these eleven tales, whose colorful characters are lured to the City of Light and Love, like moths to a flame. Available in paperback, here, or for immediate download on your Kindle, here.

Today's word: une tache

    : spot
    : stain, mark

une tache de rousseur = freckle
une tâche de vin = wine stain

The English translation follows below, in bold. Click to listen to the French:

Les corps flottants sont des taches sombres qui se présentent sous la forme de points, de cercles, de lignes ou de
toiles d'araignée et qui semblent se déplacer dans le champ visuel. (site: Inca)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

The beaches are so packed here in La Ciotat you cannot see the sand....so Jean-Marc led the two of us to a secret hideaway! There, on slippery flat rocks disappearing into the sea, we relaxed at sundown with Les Ciotadens, or locals (picture from JM's Instagram account...)

After my husband slipped into the sea I followed him from the shore, my eyes on his snorkeling tuba, until my gaze was lost on the blue horizon. That's when I began to see the spots. Qu'est-ce que c'est? Looking left, looking right, I noticed how the gray dots (over my eyes? or in the air in front of me?) floated off-center...until I could not quite focus on any one of them. Next, "stringy bits" began passing by adding to the flotsam in my eyes! 

Sitting on my beach towel my head turning slowly from side-to-side, my eyes chasing the (internal? external?) "shadows," I was stumped as to what I was seeing. An optical illusion? Brought on by low blood sugar or some kind of carence--like a lack of iron or something

As soon as my husband returned from the sea, and his oursinade, I told him about the "flying spots!" Realizing this must've sounded batty (come to think of it, I saw those too! ), I kept a low profile until I got my sister Heidi on the phone... 

(No, my sister confirmed, she had never seen spots parading past her range of vision....)

Worried I was becoming a hypochondriac, I hung up and googled "seeing spots" and voilà! A satisfactory answer: les corps flottants.

Floating bodies are dark spots in the form of dots, circles, lines or cobwebs that seem to move in the visual field.

WebMD goes on to say: Most floaters are small flecks of a protein called collagen. They’re part of a gel-like substance in the back of your eye called the vitreous. As you age, the protein fibers that make up the vitreous shrink down to little shreds that clump together. The shadows they cast on your retina are floaters.

I also learned these "floaters" can be connected to diabetes, which brings me back to blood sugar... No matter how much cinnamon-laced oatmeal I eat, my brain still feels "wrung like a sponge" by the time I have finished writing one of these posts. After four hours of brainwork, my cerveau feels starved, pressé comme une orange. Did you know nerves and the brain depend upon normal sugar levels to function properly?

Voilà. Today's post was a public service announcement--for those of you who may have, like me, worried you were seeing mouches or toiles d'araignées--in addition to all those spots. They're just floaters and you're ok! (Though you might have your vision and your blood sugar checked....)

Wishing everyone a lovely weekend. And thanks so much for reading!

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le ciotaden = a person from La Ciotat
un tuba
= snorkel
qu'est-ce que c'est? = what is it?
une carence = deficiency (vitamin deficiency)
une oursinade = hunt for oursins, or sea urchins
le cerveau = brain
pressé comme une orange = squeezed like an orange
la mouche = fly
la toile d'araignée = spider web 

Kristi and jackie at beach in la ciotat
With our daughter, Jackie. Read the Desiderata poem in French, in a post written for my daughter in 2014

Thank you so much, Kristin, for all of these wonderful years of French Word A Day. I'm a retired French teacher and regularly used your blog in my classroom. And now I read for my pleasure alone!! --Cheryl

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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Move Mom into the wine cellar? + France wins!

France wins world cup fracro soccer
Notice the cushion on the bench, left. More in today's story!

Today's Word: le but

    : goal

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following words:
Le but. Hier soir La France a marqué quatre buts pour gagner la finale de la Coupe du Monde de football. Goal. Last night France scored four goals to win the soccer World Cup.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

Homeless Wine and Homeless Widows
 (and the World Cup Win!)

    by Kristi Espinasse

There is no tranquil place to write today, so I'll dive right in--along with the pounding of hammers and hearts (just had a heart-to-heart with our 23-year-old, Max, who had a setback of his own). Now he's back on track and I can begin this Monday morning edition where I left off: wondering how to focus on writing whilst construction workers are swarming on the opposite side of this wall (and there goes the jackhammer! And here comes a request for a pencil, and could someone open the gate? So another truck can arrive? And, Madame, do you have a cup? For what? Coffee? Oh, I can make you that...).

Bon, bref: We are creating a cellar for Jean-Marc's soon-to-be homeless wine! This was the solution to Where to put our homeless Mom?...but back to wine:

Since we sold our vineyard and then moved to La Ciotat, all Jean-Marc's vin has been stocked in a converted garage-studio. We now need to clear the studio of its floor-to-ceiling vintages and place le vin somewhere else....Voilà for the little cellar that will soon piggyback our kitchen (walk out the kitchen door,  turn left and walk into the 2-meter wide caveau. It will be ready in 10 days. Mom will be here in 7... On ne s'ennuie jamais!)

Last night I looked across the living room. Thirteen of us had our eyes peeled on le grand écran as France led against Croatia in the 2018 World Cup. A ceiling fan whirled above us, moving the humid air in circles around our sweaty bodies. Our two couches were filled and a bench and chairs held the rest of us supporters.

I kept looking for Mom, wondering where we would put her in a scenario like this? Would our new colocatrice be watching the game with us? (It would depend on her mood. If down, she'd be under a pile of covers in the wine cellar (soon to be her studio). If she were feeling up, she'd definitely be watching the match with us, her cup runnething over with rosé!

But would she behave? That is always the question. And it's a moot point trying to answer it. The best I can do is ask myself the very same: Would I behave? Will I?

This is the entire fear I have behind Mom living with us, because, in the end, the only one we can control is ourselves.


To be honest, even I found it difficult to behave during the World Cup Match. Case in point: While daydreaming during the match of all matches, you've just thought up a way in which your guests could be a bit more comfortable. Wait! Do not suddenly spring up and search for seat cushions while everyone's eyes are on the soccer ball. God forbid you'd walk past the screen during a but, or goal, and block another's view!

As I learned last night, goals happen quickly and unexpectedly. And so do the changes in life--hammers, hearts and all. Perhaps the best we can do is not to block another's vision, whether our own, our guest's, or, ultimately, God's.

*    *    *

Heidi mom 2018
My sister, Heidi, and our Mom, Jules. I can't thank Heidi enough for flying to Mexico to help Mom during this transition...first to Denver, then on to France.

FRENCH VOCABULARY

le but = goal 
bon bref = in short
le vin = wine
le caveau = wine cellar
le grand écran = the big screen
le supporter = fan
la colocatrice (le colocataire ) = roommate, joint tenant, housemate
Kristi
Kristi here. Happy to announce a new way to support this French word journal: via check! If you are interested, email me at kristin.espinasse@gmail.com

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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When an expat's expat parent comes to live with daughter in France: After 25 years in Mexico, Mom is moving in!

Window and shutter in Mexico
Au revoir Mexique. Our Mom is about to begin a new chapter in France!

On ne s'ennuie jamais

    : never a dull moment

Click here to listen to on ne s'ennuie jamais

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE
A blow to her wings, not to her spirit! 
by Kristi Espinasse

My mom has been an expat in Mexico for 25 years (the same amount of time I've been in France). Now, following a recent coup dans l'aile, or blow to her wings, Jules will be moving into our nest and we are going to take things au jour le jour (just as the birds do!)

Petit à petit l'oiseau (re)fait son nid.
Jean-Marc and I will be researching the administrative side of when an expat's expat parent comes to live with American daughter and French son-in-law in France. (Kicking myself for not applying for French nationality after all these years. It would come in handy about now!). Meantime there are some non-administrative pépins, like where to put Mom...now that our two kidults have moved back in for the summer. As the French say: On ne s'ennuie jamais.

I'll be back with you later for an update. D'ici là, meantime, please send Jules and my sister, Heidi, (who just arrived in Puerto Vallarta) bon courage. They'll need it. They have two days to turn the page on a colorful chapter in Mom's life. On to the next! 

Jules in st-cyr-sur mer at la madrague
We may need a second bagnole now. How about this Méhari? Perfect for a sunset drive here in La Ciotat...

FRENCH VOCABULARY
un coup dans l'aile = a blow to the wings
au jour le jour = day by day
Petit à petit l'oiseau fait son nid = little by little the bird makes its nest
le pépin = glitch, hitch, snag
on ne s'ennuie jamais = life's never boring
d'ici là = meantime
bon courage = good luck
la bagnole = car 
la maman = mom, mother, mama...comme Mama Jules ♥ 

Heidi Kristi Mom Jules wedding day
Surrounded by my sister, Heidi, and our Mom, Jules at my 1994 Wedding in Marseilles.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


Even Cheese Puffs sound elegant in French: Gougères recipe and post by Ann Mah, author of The Lost Vintage

Ann mah the lost vintage novel in beaulieu-sur-mer France
Our family lived on two French vineyards during the last 10 years, beginning in this 2007 post. Ann Mah's book brought it all back--the sights, the sounds, and the scents--especially the beauty, the history, and the passion behind it all. I learned more about wine reading Ann's book, in addition to details of WWII (like the humiliating punishment for collaboration horizontale--or sleeping with the enemy!). The novel's modern-day narrator, Kate, is curious, funloving, and determined to pass her Master of Wine exam, a feat that brings her back to her family's vineyard in Burgundy where she discovers a hidden side of war and wine. Excellent summer reading! Order a copy here. 

Today's Word: Une Gougère

    : cheese puff

How to pronounce gougères? Click here to listen to the following example sentence
Une gougère est une brioche salée au gruyère. Il s'agit d'un mélange de pâte à chou et de fromage (du gruyère le plus souvent) que l'on cuit au four. A gougère is a savory brioche with Gruyère cheese. It is a mixture of puff pastry dough and cheese (usually gruyere) that is baked. --L'Internaute.fr


Gougères and The Lost Vintage

by Ann Mah

I fully admit that one of the reasons I wrote a novel set in a French vineyard was so I could linger there in my imagination. I've been enchanted by Burgundy's ever since I first visited the region in 2010 to research an article about Thomas Jefferson's favorite wines. And if I also sensed the presence of hovering ghosts, they only added to my fascination.

Burgundy is, obviously, famous for its wine - but the food is pretty fantastic, too. I have fond memories of eating Epoisse cheese so ripe it flooded the plate. There was beef bourguignon that melted under my fork, and snails drenched in garlic-parsley butter. But my favorite treat was the gougère - a cheese puff that is at once savory, crisp, and tender. As it turns out, hail from Burgundy where they traditionally accompanied cellar wine tastings.

Food and wine are a huge part of French culture and they play an important role in my new novel, The Lost Vintage, where they become a metaphor for all the issues that the characters are grappling with - questions of tradition, change, and how ( if) we should confront the past.

I hope you will enjoy The Lost Vintage - and if, like me, you're coming across the kitchen, I'm making a recipe for my favorite cheesy cheese puffs. Made of pastry cabbages, they seem mercurial to cook. In fact, they are ridiculously simple - so easy, I often bake them with my four-year-old daughter. Although some choose to blow the dough into mounds, I prefer to shape it with spoons, which creates a rough surface that turns golden and crunchy in the oven. Gougères pair beautifully with almost every kind of wine - and they also make a great cocktail snack for hungry book clubs. If you do these, however, beware: a batch does not last long!

I'm so excited to share The Lost Vintage with you! Happy reading - and health!

--
Many thanks to Ann Mah for the previous story and for the following recipe! 

Gougères French cheese puff recipe

Gougères / Cheese puffs
Makes about 35 puffs

2/3 cup (160 ml) water
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5 tablespoons (65 grams) butter
3/4 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour
3 large eggs 2/3 cup (75 grams)
grated Gruyère or Comté cheese

1) Preheat the oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Line with baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) In a medium saucepan, combines the water, salt, butter, and cayenne pepper. Heat the mixture until the butter melts and it begins to boil.

3) Immediately dump in the flour and stir briskly to combine. Continue to stir over medium heat until the mixture forms a ball and begins to film the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.

4) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to slightly cool. Add the eggs one by one, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon to fully Add the cheese and stir to combine.

5) Using two spoons, serving the dough into small mounds on the prepared baking sheet. Each mound should be about the size of a cherry tomato; Space them evenly to allow for puffing.

6) Bake for 5 minutes, then lower the oven to 375ºF (190ºC) and continue baking for 18-20 minutes until puffed and golden brown.

Note: Gougères are best hot from the oven, but still appealing at room temperature. To reheat, place them in the oven at 350ºF (175ºC) for 4 to 6 minutes.

Lost vintage 2
“Mah’s detailed descriptions of life on a family vineyard, how wine is produced, and how subtle differences in taste are discerned are so robust that a novice wine drinker may progress to aficionado status by the end. Engaging… will delight Francophiles and readers who enjoy historical fiction with a twist by such authors as Lauren Willig or Christina Baker Kline.” –Library Journal (starred)

Jackie in cap ferrat  ann mah the lost vintage
Our Jackie grew up on the vineyards in Provence and was once crowned Harvest Queen (at age 9) for diligently picking grapes each September. It is all a memory now. Reading The Lost Vintage one can still hear the flutter of leaves and the creaking of buckets brushing by the old vines. Click here to order a copy.

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here


A slang way to say "water" and when the French can't get good wine they make it in the hallway!

Dechet zero apero la ciotat
Jean-Marc and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary by picking up a fleet of ordures (garbage) along with other volunteers.  We joined Amélie (left of center, beside JM) in her One Footprint on the World initiative. I have never met so many joyful litter-pickers. (Facebook page here.)

Speaking of doings, a lot of stories are streaming by--a fleet of daily happenings both big and small. Both our daughter and son live with us for the moment, and soon we will have another family member onboard.... 

For now, I need to simplify this personal journal you are reading, this diary that disguises itself as a French Word-A-Day. Let's grab a random story and run with it before all the other little stories clogging my mind shut everything down.

Let's begin with today's word, presented in a streaming fashion... 

LA FLOTTE = fleet (read on for 2nd meaning)

I learned it Sunday night when Jean-Marc's parents' longtime friends came to stay the night. Nicole and Michel (if you've read Words in a French Life you met them in the chapter called "Casse-Croûte") have lived all over the world, but when in Libya, in the 70s, they found it difficult to find good wine. Unsatisfied with what was available, they quickly went into production--in the narrow hall of their apartment

Purchasing 10 liters of Joker grape juice, some sugar, and levure...I believe... but that's not the point...the point being by 2 am, with fermentation underway, loud popping sounds echoed throughout the building waking all the inhabitants! 

Even garage wine (or hallway wine...) needs to age, so it wouldn't be ready for Nicole and Michel's first dinner guests--and there was no way Nicole was going to serve Vin de Libie which tasted different from what the couple was used to in France (no offense to those of you who enjoyed 1970s Libyan wine!).

"What did you serve, then?" I asked.

"De la flotte! Ordinary water!" Nicole explained.

For once, the French preferred la flotte to la piquette :-)

Voilà the little story behind the French word, flotte (heretofore "fleet" to the rest of us). You can use this word among friends when asking for ordinary water. But don't ask for "de la flotte" at the restaurant, or le garçon may be offended.


Post note: I was supposed to write Part Two of our trip to Cap Ferrat, but then today's story would've gotten lost in la flotte of memories. By the way, my daughter and I never intended to get any tattoos (no tatttos still)! Also, for those who wrote in, that was a screenshot of me in my bathing suit and not a video.

On the walkway to cap ferrat view toward beaulieu-sur-mer

FRENCH VOCABULARY
le casse-croûte = snack, informal meal
la flotte = water (slang)
la levure = yeast
la piquette = plonk, ordinary (bad?) wine
le garçon = the waitor
Jean-marc nicole michel
Jean-Marc's parents both passed away. These are the best friends of his parents. I hope you'll read the light-hearted story Casse-Croûte, in my book. You'll learn, among other things, why the French keep their hands on the table and their unique way of pronouncing the word Tupperware. Order here and thanks for your support. It keeps this journal going!

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
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"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

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It began with tattoos... (our mother-daughter escapade to Cap Ferrat) + un attrape-rêve

Attrape-reve capteur de reve dreamcatcher in french
Do you own a dreamcatcher? We kept seeing these attrape-rêves last week--in the most unexpected places: La Ciotat, near Cannes, and again in Villefranche-sur-Mer. Coincidence? (photo of our daughter)

un attrape-rêve (also un capteur de rêves)

    : dreamcatcher

Selon la croyance populaire, le capteur de rêve empêche les mauvais rêves d'envahir le sommeil de son détenteur. Agissant comme un filtre, il capte les songes envoyés par les esprits, conserve les belles images de la nuit et brûle les mauvaises visions aux premières lueurs du jour. a dream catcher or dreamcatcher. According to popular belief, the dream catcher prevents bad dreams from invading the sleeper's sleep. Acting as a filter, it captures the dreams sent by the spirits, preserves the beautiful images of the night and burns the bad visions at the first light of day. (Wikipedia)


A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE

by Kristi Espinasse

Our 20-year-old returned for a second season waitressing at the port in Bandol. She will work "sept sur sept" or 7 nights a week (including 2 or 3 lunch services, double shift) until mid-September. But before Jackie begins the demanding workload, we spirited away for 3 nights to Cap Ferrat--a breathtaking peninsula next to Beaulieu-sur-Mer. This mother-daughter escapade would be a summer vacation with an underlying goal...

Because our daughter is floundering (continue her design studies or take a year off and work fulltime? Or move to the States!), I thought this drive up the coast could be the chance to practice positive thinking, to try some assertiveness exercises...and why not chat about le fric while we are at it (how will she make a living? Meantime, better save those waitressing wages!). As my goals for our trip unfolded, a lighter theme began to announce itself...

It began with tattoos (Jackie wants one...). We saw a young woman on the beach sporting a tatouage of an attrape-rêve....

A day later, on the road to Cap Ferrat, we passed a pick-up truck with a sticker of an attrape-rêve. "I'll bet we'll see another of those dreamcatchers on this trip," I said to my girl, grasping for some sort of meaning to our journey. Though a dreamcatcher in Amerindian culture is an object that catches bad dreams, the sound of the words "attrape rêve" could remind us to run after our own dreams....

Villefranche-sur-mer

Arriving at Villefranche, my daughter held on to the wheel with one hand, surreptitiously glancing at her GPS phone-map, which she held in the other hand. Her Citroen, newly mine 15 years before, jerked its way up the hill in a series of nerve-racking hairpin turns. "Give me that phone! Keep both hands on the wheel!" I begged.

Handing over her mobile phone, Jackie instructed me to "Hit recenter. Hit recenter!" Tapping my daughter's iPhone screen, I noticed how the map honed in to our location, making our exact whereabouts crystal clear. Génial! I suggested to Jackie we might, from here-on-out, hit our own "recenter buttons" when feeling stressed--whether during a series of hairpin turns up the hill or whether on a Sunday afternoon when, instead of enjoying an hour at the beach, we're rumination about a bunch of deadlines coming up this week....a week in which we also have guests to host, appointments, and a tax extension to deal with). Remember to hit recenter. Hit recenter and be in The Now Whereabouts (instead of The Future Whereabouts. We'll cross that road when we get there!)

Beaulieu sur Mer jumelee Tempe Arizona
Beaulieu-sur-Mer. What a coincidence this town is a twin city with my college town, of Tempe, Arizona, where I majored in French at ASU (alumni article here, click then scroll down the page)

 

Jackie in between beaulieu-sur-mer and cap ferrat
My driver, my daughter, my dreamcatcher


I'd do well to hit the recenter button now, instead of panicking over how to tie-up the rest of this story within one hundred words (if you prefer shorter posts, rather than long ones, let me know). So let's all take a moment to breathe and remember we have the rest of the week to get everything done. Whatever your workload, whatever your commitments--break it down. I hope this message was helpful to you (I know I needed it too!)

I'll be back at the next chance to tell you about our third sighting in three days of the mysterious attrape-rêves (aka capteur de rêves) not far from Beaulieu-sur-Mer, where for three full days I hit the recenter button while trying, all along, to help my daughter figure out her own next steps.

On the beach in Beaulieu-sur-mer

Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue writing and publishing these educational missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
 
♥ Send $10    
♥ Send $25    
♥♥ Send the amount of your choice


"I’ve really enjoyed reading your stories over the years & hope you will continue to delight us with your beautiful photos and thoughtful & charming antidotes of life in the beautiful south of France."
--Jacqueline

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP: Has a friend forwarded you this post? Sign-up to receive your own free subscription to French Word-A-Day. Click here