Sans plomb, essence, caoutchouc, and a gas station story on French nonchalance
My story: Political elections + friendship: The stakes are high (L'enjeu est de taille)

Recipe for Disaster & "To return the kindness" in French

Moonlight over le castellet
The perched village of Le Castellet, level with the moon

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Bananes flambées
bananes flambées
bananes flambées
bananes flambées

...that's how many times we ate the rum-drenched dessert last week (and tomorrow's guests are getting more of the same--or du pareil au même).

Now, I can hear of few of you chattering: "Rum-drenched bananas? Kristi's fallen off the wagon"...but I can assure you I am sober as a stick over here in La Ciotat--we've just had a very social week, and everyone knows that social in French rhymes with la bouffe. So when, last Tuesday, we invited two couples over for dinner, I needed to come up with a menu. Because our guests are excellent cooks (story here and also here), I was beginning to sweat it out, this tradition of "rendering the pareille" (very bad franglais. We'll straighten things out in the vocab section below....) So, I decided to knock two items off my side of the menu--and let Jean-Marc tackle those. One was le plat principal, the other was dessert! That left me to worry about an apéro, a salad, and a cheese plate--fastoche!

But, back when I was going to be responsible for dessert, I thought up a "tarte à la banane" in honor (or, in the necessity of using all) those bananas on our countertop. That is when, on second thought, a banana tart sounded terribly fade (and by that, I don't mean the dessert is "all the rage"--by fade I mean BLAND).

Then I remembered that one of the things my husband is good at (besides hunting for sea urchins, finding hidden beaches, and moving us to a new location every 5 years) is making bananes flambées. Ça y est! That is how Jean-Marc became in charge of dessert Tuesday night...and Thursday night (when we ate at Kathleen and Dean's--and offered to bring dessert), and Sunday (when my belle-soeur came for lunch) and again on Tuesday when we ate at Pascale and Patrick's--and again offered to take care of dessert...).

Now that we are (almost) done with an unusually social week, I can lower my hostess blinds and begin to reflect on all that cooked rum. What was I thinking? The only answer that comes to mind is one the French offer when admitting that dinner has "un tout petit peu d'alcool" in it: "...mais l'alcool s'évapore lorsqu'il est chauffé! But alcohol evaporates when it's heated" They always say!

Bref, that's the story of how things went bananas this past week. Maybe I should have stuck to tarts.

les bananes flambées = bananas foster
du pareil au même = more of the same
la bouffe = food, grub (slang)
rendre la pareille = to return the kindness
le plat principal = main course
un apéro = aperitif, drink (often with snacks)
fastoche = easy
la tarte = tart
fade = bland
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law
bref = anyhow

Banana tart

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