A sunny view from the village of Auriol, where Jean-Marc and I had lunch Wednesday. In these southern French towns you'll hear a traditional Provençal end-of-the-year wish: Bon bout d'an!
TODAY'S WORD: Bon bout d'an!
: Happy end of the year!
EXAMPLE SENTENCE & AUDIO FILE
Listen to all the French words in today's story via the sound file below. Then scroll to the vocabulary section and check your comprehension.
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse
Our family had a cozy, casual get-together here at noon on December 25th. After delegating all the cooking (l'entrée, le plat principal, et le dessert) I found time to attend church Christmas morning. But on my leisurely way out of l'église I was caught in my sneaky tracks. "Linger a little bit longer..." my friend Enzo said, "and all the work will be done before you arrive home!"
Haha! Enzo was reading my mind!
One thing my mid-fifties are teaching me is the ability to "assumer" or "s'assumer" (to accept and stand by my choices) and to laugh at myself. Having cleaned the house, set the table, and paid for the groceries, I felt no guilt in assigning the holiday cooking to my adult children. And by the time I finally returned from church, warmth and deliciousness filled the air. Our son Max had collected the 3-kilo chapon from the butcher and stuffed it with une farce. He instructed his sister, Jackie, to baste the bird every half hour, which she did in between reheating the tarte tomate she'd made for appetizers (to go along with the foie gras toasts we assembled on my return).
If Max was absent for the bird's basting, that's because he was doing some delegating of his own: he had his aunt Cécile and Uncle Jacques arrive several hours early, to his own apartment, to help put up shelves in his kitchen. Il es malin lui, comme sa maman! He's clever that one, like his mom!
Now the trio was arriving and between the hugs and kisses and oh que ça sent bon!, Cécile noticed Jackie basting the large bird.
"C'est un chaperon," Jackie explained.
"On mange un chaperon?" Cécile questioned.
"Oui," my daughter affirmed. "Un chaperon."
Cécile suddenly smiled in comprehension. "Non, ceci c'est un chapon. Un chaperon, c'est quelqu'un qui surveille un jeune couple amoureux. "No, this is a capon. A chaperon is someone who supervises young lovers."
"Oh!" Jackie laughed.
(Later, while typing this post, I would chuckle at the English definition of chaperon(e): a young woman's moral guardian. Come to think of it, humanity needs a moral guardian--24/24. None of us knows just how far we are from the next moral slip-up. We are, after all, only human.)
As sheepish as I felt sticking my family with the holiday cooking, it was worth it to overhear this funny conversation between aunt and niece. To think if I'd lingered any longer at church, I might've missed it, and so would have you!
Well, bon bout d'an! Happy End of the Year to the loveliest readers anyone could wish for. Thank you for tuning in each week and giving me a reason to show up and write. Merci, merci!
P.S. I leave you with a letter I received from my daughter last week.
Bon bout d'an = Happy end of the year!
l'entrée (f) = first course
le plat pricipal = main course
le dessert = dessert
s'assumer = to take responsibility for yourself
le chapon = capon (bird)
le chaperon = chaperone
la farce = stuffing
Il est malin lui, comme sa maman! = He's clever that one, like his mom!
oh que ça sent bon! = oh that's smells good!
My belle-soeur's starter was plate-licking good. Shrimp from Madagascar, sliced avocado, grapefruit, and coeurs de palmiers (hearts of palm). The secret sauce included raw egg and a special citrus fruit (a green combava, or kaffir lime?)
Sweet of the Week, No. 4: "Le Macaron." Max's sweetheart, Ana, made these mouth-watering salted caramel and chocolate macaroons for our collective holiday sweet tooth (do the French still use the term "bec sucré" for sweet tooth?) Having seen this popular cookie displayed in fancily wrapped boxes at high-end bakeries, I am amazed by those who make them at home. Bravo, Ana!
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety