Today's Expression: Avoir un creux
: to be a little hungry, peckish
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
In the Golden List of Life Experiences I have something to add: J'ai dormi sous la couverture de Hitchcock! (I slept beneath Hitchcock's blanket!)
On Friday night, in a partly-converted barn in Lorgues--chilled from both the Mistral wind and from sleeping alone in the countryside--I fell into a deep slumber. It may have been the weight of so many couvertures piled on top of me, or the bouillottes Tessa gave me to tuck between the sheets--but I quickly fell to sleep despite all 'the scaries.'
The next morning I opened the creaky green shutters to a bright blue sky and to the immense relief of not having been murdered. My wild imagination was now being fed by softer scenes, thanks to a field of yellows and pinks: both the almond and mimosa trees were in bloom! I stepped outside onto a patio of giant pavers and went up the familiar stairs beside the old Tilleul tree whose leaves and blossoms I've enjoyed in many an herbal tea.
Hello Darling! Tessa greeted me in her kitchen, where the smell of coffee and the wagging tails of two little dogs made me smile. My friend and I looked around at the boxes we had packed the day before, and went over the game plan for the day: Let's start with breakfast in the salon, then pack the cooking and art supplies, then lunch on the terrace. And this, dear reader is some of what you need to know about my longtime friend and artist: delicious food, beautiful art, and the importance of meals beneath Cézanne's sky!
How quickly lunch arrived... Tess mentioned feeling peckish and I thought she was in pain (I myself had gotten a bloody paper cut from running my finger up the side of a cardboard box...)
(peckish = avoir un creux)
It turns out peckish means a little hungry ( I don't think we say this in American English?). And what a spread my English friend made, with pan-fried salmon over a bed of mesclun, avocados, and haricots rouge. Only Tessa Baker could manage a gourmet meal amidst the chaos and stress of un déménagement! I slathered salty butter over fresh pain complet and we settled in for a bite as the winter sun warmed the skin beneath our sweaters and jeans. Oh the feeling of a hot day in March!
Thomas looking down to the terrace.
With Tilly and Thomas and Bubbles (dogs and cat of the house) weaving in and out, we resumed packing. Tess has a lot of beautiful pottery from Provence and I carefully wrapped it in bubbles (not the cat...) although we used everything but the pets to cushion the china and the fluted glasses...
You can use these, too, Tessa offered. I was amazed to see a box full of fabric samples (for dressmaking? curtains? pillows?) in silk and satin and embroidered linen, each piece (of varying sizes) marked by a cardboard tag with information about the fiber and exquisite design. Ah well, they sure came in handy at a time like this... And how brilliant to be putting these antique threads to good use!
Having used the entire box of finecloth échantillons to wrap les faïences we turned to other possibilities for padding fragile items--everything from kitchen towels (both paper and fabric) to aprons to nappes and old blankets.
After filling a box with saucepans I looked around for something to cover the lot, when Aha! I ran back to my room to get that old blanket I'd tossed on the bed last night. Returning to the kitchen I went to throw it over the casseroles when Tessa's said, No, not that one. That was made by Alfred Hitchcock's daughter... and was a gift to my father.
I looked down at the humble blanket (it had reminded me of the afghans my Mom crocheted for me and my sister) and saw, in the afternoon light, the fine mohair...
As thrilling as it was to learn I'd slept beneath a blanket made by Alfred Hitchcock's own flesh and blood, had I known I don't think I'd have chosen this bedcover last night...when every creak and bump in the night gave me quite a fright!
*. * . *
Another discovery Chez Tess, was the beautiful voice of Ane Brun which filled the rooms as we packed. You might enjoy her music, here.
la bouillotte = hot-water bottle
la couverture = blanket
un échantillon = sample, swatch (fabric)
une nappe = tablecloth
avoir un creux = to be a little hungry, peckish
le mesclun = mixed salad leaves
Tilleul = Lime (as in lime-blossom tea)
le salon = living room
le haricot rouge = kidney bean
le déménagement = move
le pain complet = whole wheat bread
la casserole = saucepan
More in Mastering French Vocabulary
Tilly and Bubbles the cat. And, below, that's Thomas in the backseat and my friend Tessa, the artist behind the Paint Provence with Tess tours.
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