Saudade - Just what does it mean?
Freedom & Fer: L’homme est né libre et partout il est dans les fers.

Un coup de bol + ras le bol and recipe for "le pain en cocotte" (dutch oven bread)

Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith

A SPECIAL WELCOME to students who have just signed on to this journal. It is an honor to have you with us! This blog began in the South of France in 2002 when our children were 5 and 7, and I worked at a  Swedish-owned winery while my husband sold Italian wine bottling machines. (I am American and he is French.) We left our jobs, focused on writing and wine and eventually bought a vineyard of our own. Currently, we are sharing a more personal story and you may follow along as we write it: The Lost Gardens goes behind the scenes of this lighthearted, cheerful (in the style of today's column, below) blog to the dark and hopeless moments that punctuated our private life. Feedback on our memoir:

"A raw, honest, and heart-wrenching telling of a trying period. So vividly told." -Janet
"Your combined story is powerful..." --Chris
"This book will be a great help to others, and a testament to the strengths you have each discovered in yourselves." -Ellen 

Anyone who has ever chased a dream while trying to hold on to their loved ones will be moved by our book's dual narrative: my husband writes about his ambitious pursuit of winemaking, and my chapters focus on our relationship as our vineyard rises.... and ultimately falls. But that is not the end of the story.... Purchase the memoir here and begin reading right away.  

Today's phrase: un coup de bol

    : a stroke of luck, a fluke, lucky break

Sound File: click here to listen to the French phrase below

Un coup de bol... à ne pas confondre avec le ras le bol (ce qui veut dire " fed up").
A stroke of luck... not to be confused with le ras le bol (which means "fed up").


by Kristi Espinasse

"Wonder Bread"

Quelle Trouvaille! I was hunting through the second-hand shop, with Mom, when I stumbled upon a dutch oven. Le Creuset no less. The torn white sticker read 5 euros. But it weighed a ton! Did I really want to buy this empty canon ball?

Oh, but it was canon! A real knock-out as go dutch ovens. Cherry red. A slate-black handle (so handsome you'd forgive it the first time it blistered your fingers). The retro typography L E  C R E U S E T. The creamy enamel interior. Tu vas regretter, a little voice said as I began walking away. And so I turned on connâit la suite....

I am typing this with burnt fingers which reminds me to include the following disclaimer: pay attention when baking today's wonder bread and porter des gants!

Now that you've been warned, and you promise to be mindful while making this fastoche bread recipe--don't hold back! This is every bit as good as a French baguette and simple comme make.


Follow the simple video instructions at the end of this post for a no-fail loaf that will wow your family and friends! If you don't have a dutch oven and can't locate one second-hand, check out these dutch ovens on


le pain en cocotte = dutch oven bread
quelle trouvaille! = what a find!
canon = gorgeous
on connaît la suite = the rest is history
porter des gants = wear gloves
fastoche = easy
simple comme bonjour = easy as hello
The antique hachoir berceuse (rocking chopper) was another find at the second-hand store! You can find these new here

Even the underside is beautiful, reminiscent of the marbled French yogurt cake!

I've finally run out of farine, or flour, after making so many loaves :-) Latest obsession: to add Everything but the Bagel seasoning mix to the top. So good! I leave you with the video that simplifies the steps:

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution is vivement appréciée! Donating via PayPal is easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi
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"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle