Prenez soin de vous + Take care of your French with a dozen more words
Pâte Brisée : Jêrôme's 4-ingredient wine-based shortcrust pastry is easy, versatile, delicious for savory quiche or sweet, delectable pie!

Our mystery guest + le cafoutche = The "everything room" in France

Our cafoutche store room
Up till now, the best part of our cafoutche was the view. More about a few sweet and savory projects in today's missive. Thank you for reading and sharing this post with a friend!

Today's Word: cafoutche

  : storage room, cupboard

AUDIO FILE: click here to listen to the following quote in French

Cafoutche: De l’occitan cafoucho synonyme de cahute. A Marseille il désigne un petit placard où l’on met de tout et de rien. Peut désigner la cave, aussi bien qu’une petite pièce fermée ou un débarras. Cafoutche: from Occitan cafoucho synonymous with hut. In Marseille this designates a small closet where you put everything and nothing. May refer to the cellar, as well as a small closed room or storage room.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Not only is our guest on the mend, she is mending! Helping, that is, to fix everything from a punctual petit creux to our unruly store room--insisting all the while, ça fait du bien de travailler. What a positive way to look at work--as something that makes us feel better! I know this is true with my writing which I often put off to a later date, making the restlessness worse and stifling the atmosphere!

Rimbaud once wrote: La vie fleurit par le travail.

Life here is flourishing at the moment thanks to our accidental helper. My belle-soeur Cécile (our guest...had you guessed?) has been busy in the kitchen, making both savory and sweet tarts. So far she has made une tarte aux épinards, une tarte aux aspèrges, and two tartes aux fraises given it is strawberry and asparagus season here in France. Using her friend Jérome's recette, which calls for white wine and sunflower oil, ma belle-soeur made the most delicious crust I have ever tasted--so good I think I could eat just the crust for lunch! 

Between delicious meals, Cécile is eager to help us with le nettoyage de printemps. It's hard to stand by while my belle-soeur is sweeping our front and back porches, so I grab the dustpan and je mets la main à la pâte (which is more reasonable than putting my hand back in the pâte, or pie crust, no matter how addictive it is...).

Done sweeping, my belle-soeur has now offered to help reorganize our cafoutche, that room where the French put everything from tools to cat food--every machin-truc that does not have a home. Cécile, being a welder and furniture maker, is not only familiar with the bits-and-bobs that I cannot identify--from méches (a piece you attach to a drill, they come in many sizes...) to équerres--she will be able to make one of those organizational boards where we can hang all our tools! I can't wait to be able to see everything! To find a hammer and a nail when I need it!

Cords  chains old door
Before putting up the wonder board I've been wishing for, to organize all our tools, we made use of the back of the old door--arranging all the cords, wires, ropes, and chains there. Everthing by theme, everything in its place! Chaque chose à sa place.

As we begin the task of sorting through the rest, piling everything on top of the ping-pong table for easier viewing, dear Smokey appears, wagging his tail, and Jules is not far behind. Noticing all the activity, all the flourishing, Mom is full of praise:

"Cécile--we are never going to let you go!"

No way we're letting my belle-soeur go! Hors de question! I can think of a few more projects we could do together...plant a potato patch, make obelisks for the garden...oh, and we still need that pie crust recipe!

Speaking of tarts, having finished this story I'm now going to sneak down to the kitchen to see about the banana pie from last night. Bye just now and remember, work is good for the soul and pie tastes best after a good sweat. (Lots of sweating in writing...chiseling words from the brain is hard labor!)

    *    *    *

le petit creux = the munchies, a little hunger
ça fait du bien de travailler = it feels good to work
la belle-soeur = sister-in-law, step-sister
une tarte = a tart 
...aux épinards = with spinach
...aux aspèrges = with asparagus
...aux fraises = with strawberries
la recette = recipe
mettre la main à la pâte = to join in, to pitch in
le machin-truc = thingamajig
chaque chose à sa place = everything in its place
une méche = drill bit (also a lock of wavy hair, which a drill bit resembles)
une équerre = flat angle bracket, shelf bracket
hors de question = out of the question

Reverse Dictionary
On the mend = en voie de guérison
to put off = remettre à  plus tard, repousser
Banana pie
Ouf! J'ai bien galéré. Whew! What a struggle today's post was from beginning to end--owing to a few technical glitches at the blog, which have all been sorted out. Now to sort out that banana pie! Bye-bye!

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Spring cleaning is and was a great idea. Then, mon épouse got me going on mask making and spring cleaning will not get done in summer Provençal weather this year!

Enjoy the cleaning. Somebody has to like doing it.


I hope you will post Cécile’s pastry recipe - it sounds wonderful!

Stacy Lund

Dear Kristi,
It’s wonderful you have a guest who bakes and enjoys tackling projects. Pie is a wonderful motivator!
Lovely day to you!


Great story today! Love organization and helping hands ♥
Would also love les recettes de votre belle-sœur !

 Chris Allin

Dear Kristi,
Yes, I guessed! The moment you mentioned that your guest was helping,
from tartes to everything else, it came to me...Cécile! What a pleasure it
must be to have her with you. And she is so talented. Glad to know she is
doing well.

Diane Heinecke

So nice when a relative or other guest visits and pitches in. Bonne guerison, Celine! And many times they tell you of a solution they've tried to organize things. When a cousin visited, she told me how she organizes all the extra recipes we all cut out or print from someone. She bought a portable plastic file that holds standard size hanging file folders with plastic tabs to write in each category you want. She also gets some recipe-size plastic sheets made for a 3-ring binder, puts 8 existing recipe cards in those. So in each category you have your "tried & true recipe cards" and all the others you've snipped from magazines and elsewhere. I loved the idea and it sure works for me. Maybe a great COVID-19 project?p

Jerry Wood

Like my father before me I love making things and helping friends and neighbours. My dad always said helping others and expecting nothing in return is it’s own reward. I’m sure your wonderful belle soeur love helping too it’s her dopamine.
comme je suis prisonnier dans ma maison, tout est en attente pour l'instant

Sally Finkel

The banana pie and pie crust recipes please!! (Spinach, asparagus and strawberry ones too if you can:)
During the pandemic, I've been busy baking and cooking way more than usual.
A tasty pie (or two) would be the perfect anecdote for the COVID blues!

Lauren Golden

My husband makes a fabulous apple pie but you have piqued his interest in Cecile's various recipes. S'il vous plait!


Our dear Kristi,
Answered prayers that dear Cecile has recovered,and also that she--and you!!--continue to be such blessings,blessings full of love,in each other's lives!!Absolutely a gift!!
Like all your other readers,I would love some of Cecile's recipes!Come to think of it,I would love more of your recipes,too,dear Kristi!! Gosh ,what a wonderful cookbook that would make!!!
Happy week!! Health,safety and peace!
Natalia xo


Cecile is a saint! It is not kind of you to show that banana pie, Kristi, because I have nothing in the house that even
comes near to it so I will be obsessing about pastry pendant le pandemique! Good family is better than money in
the bank. We should all be as kind and giving as Cecile and the world would be a much, much better place.

Sarah LaBelle

What a great post, no matter how much work it was. Your sister-in-law is a breath of fresh air and new energy with great skills.Her recipes sound delicious. Her organization skills are wonderful.

Typo, Occitan not Occistan in the English translation of the French phrase.


What a delight it must be for you to have Cecile staying with you! I'm glad that she's feeling better. Those tartes sound delicious!

Kristin Espinasse

Thanks, Sarah, for catching the typo. Off to fix it.

Dawn Johnson

Would live the banana pie recipe, it looks délicieux

Kim Ferris


FYI, you spelled cafoutche two different ways in the story! I had to go look up the word as I had never heard it before. Local patois.

VANCE Anderson-Inks

Dear Kristen, please give my warm regards and sincere thanks to your belle-soeur, Cecile. I would still be wandering aimlessly in the French metro without her aide. I will never forget the fromage au figue she brought for Jackie's departure dinner when she was going to meet you all in Denver. Also all the help she gave me the day of my departure from your lovely home. She is a true miracle worker. A toast to Cecile. A woman of amazing skills.
Again, Merci, Cecile.

Marianne Rankin

I think the accent in "meche" is facing the wrong way- grave, not aigu.

Kristin, did you notice the book idea in one of the posts? A cookbook. After the memoir is done, of course, and you've had a break from writing.

Meanwhile, I think we'd all love to have one of the recipes. I'm intrigued by the crust made with white wine and sunflower oil.

Richard Kahane

When I lived in France (late 80s), the junk room was called le fourre-tout.

Chris Allin

I second those petitioning for a cookbook from Kristi. I have a collection of her recipes gathered over several years. Besides French yogurt cake, a favorite is oven roasted daurade, a wonderful combination of fish, tomatoes, lemons and potatoes. It was a recipe from Jean-Marc’s mother. I found it on a blog post by Ann Mah in 2012 when she interviewed Kristi. Years later I found the dish on the menu at La Diplôme, a Washington DC restaurant, one of the best meals I have experienced in a restaurant...a testament to the Espinasse recipe! So many more recipes. Have yet to try the pain en cocotte. A book of Espinasse recipes with accompanying photos...yes, please!

Kristin Espinasse

Richard, Thanks for fourre-tout. Great term!


But is Cécile going to share her recipes?? All that food sounds delightful. Glad she's on the mend and that you are all keeping well & busy during the pandemic.

Jan Goodloe

Quelle chance d’avoir une belle-soeur qui aime faire la cuisine et qui aide à ranger la maison! C’est bien vrai que “la vie fleurit par le travail.” Même quelques petites tâches. Bon travail et bonne santé, Kristi!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)