Two Most important French words of the Year from the Champs Elysées
Bonjour from North Africa + A Gift from Strangers!

To Be Had: to Fall for Something Hook, Line, and Sinker in French

Early morning in the bay of La Ciotat. Happy Saturday to all. Jean-Marc and I have a surprise for you in the sound clip below: he reads the French term and I pronounce the English.

TODAY'S WORD: "se faire avoir comme un bleu"

    : to be fooled, to be had, to fall hook, line, and sinker, 

Listen to all the French words in today's story via the sound file below. Then scroll to the vocabulary section and check your language comprehension.

Click here for the sound clip

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

Last week, while opening Christmas presents, our 27-year-old thanked us for the money. "I need to buy an oven and this should help...un peu." 

Un peu? I wondered, but before I could question Max, he hinted: "Appliances are expensive these days."

"Well, just how expensive?" I asked. Just what does un four go for nowadays?

“3900 euros.”

"What?! Thirty-nine hundred euros  for an oven? That's crazy!" It must be due to all the shortages at the moment. Prices have skyrocketed! Mentally going over the price of milk, eggs, hamburger, and now ovens, I was about to elbow Jean-Marc, to signal to him that we needed to cough up some more Christmas cash if our son was going to be able to cook for himself over at his new digs. That's when Max began to snicker. 

Tu m’as eu! You really had me going, Max! You are SUCH a turkey!”

Or maybe I'm the turkey--the birdbrain for falling for it. The upside to all this trickery is that when I finally learned the cost of the oven Max is interested in, the price seemed like a steal. Un bon coup.  A real bargain! One I personally wouldn't want to see him miss out on. 

(Maybe that was my son's plan all along?)

I'm not sure when our son will buy the oven. Yet I know there will be many more meals for us, chez Max, once he is better equipped to feed his birdbrained investors. But I'm no dummy. I'm bringing a very big plate and lots of Tupperware to steal away with leftovers. What a bargain that will all add up to one day.


Thanks, Ana, for this picture 


Max invited us over for dinner Thursday night. No oven yet but he was a dynamo with his frying pan! He loves to cook and is a natural host and entertainer. Here he is with his godfather, Fred, left, wife Béné, and a few “investors” on the right. I forgot my Tupperware so I guess I’m not that smart after all. We devoured Max’s homemade spring rolls, and his fried Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings) and some simplified Jambalaya. Jean-Marc made bananes flambées for dessert, comme d’habitude.

se faire avoir comme un bleu
= to be had
un peu = a little
un four = oven
un bon coup = a great deal, a steal
la banane flambée = Bananas Foster
comme d’habitude = as usual

HISTORY of today’s  French Expression
The expression "se faire avoir comme un bleu" goes back to the XIXth century and comes from a military environment where the "bleu" (blue uniform) signified a young recruit without experience. Se faire avoir comme un bleu = to be had (like a new recruit).

Galette des rois
(Another) SWEET OF THE WEEK, No. 6: La Galette des Rois.
January 6th is Epiphany. Throughout France you will see the King cake in all its glory (or variation). Here is a traditional one just out of the oven where it was reheated. Photo taken years ago at Mas des Brun, with our golden, Smokey, looking in. Missing his innocent and sweet presence at our window.

Back to this traditional cake, reader Laurence S. shared some nostalgia in the comments:  “La Galette des rois. So delicious with its buttery phyllo dough and marzipan filling. And so fun also the tradition to have a little charm hidden inside. The one who gets it, is crowned with a golden paper crown. On January 6 the French celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem and it is also the day, we used to take down the Christmas decorations in my family. Happy New Year to all.”

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Patty Cargill

Ah, dear Smokey, dear Maxie, dear all our marvelous pets, past & endures. Cheers, Max, happy cooking!
From a cold Roanoke, with clouds drawing a bleu on bleu sky.

Kathleen Bidney

You are so lucky to have a son who loves to cook and invites you to dinner.. I guess that you taught him well. Congratulations!
I am considering making a Galette des Roi. The first one I made had the almond filling spilling out of it, but it did taste good. I want to conquer making this wonderful dessert. Bakeries near me don’t make them, so it is either order one on line or make your own or don’t have one.
Peace, Kathleen

K. J. Laramie

se faire avoir comme un bleu = to be had 🥺

This is a very useful phrase right now! … especially for us across the pond, considering what’s going on with disgraceful antics in politics! Very timely, indeed, on a grand scale, for people who’d like to see some balance return.

Annie Cipolla

Salut, Kristi!
I grow & sell delicious apple bananas in Southern Cal that I discovered while vacationing in Hawaii. may I learn how Jean-Marc prepares his bananes flambée?


Ah - dear Smokey - I miss his presence in your life/stories. Such a beautiful creature. What a delicious meal. Thanks for sharing.

Kristin Espinasse

Hi Annie. Jean-Marc’s no-nonsense instructions are to: fry the whole bananas until golden in a nonstick pan (no butter). Add rum. Set on fire. (I think some butter would be good :-).  Then serve with vanilla ice cream. 

Laurence S

Every year on January 6, I miss not being able to find in California a traditional French « Galette des rois ». So delicious with its buttery phyllo dough and marzipan filling. And so fun also the tradition to have a little charm hidden inside. The one who gets it, is crowned with a golden paper crown. On January 6 the French celebrate the arrival of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem and it is also the day, we used to take down the Christmas decorations in my family.
Happy New Year to All

Gwyneth Perrier

What a wonderful post to read on a cold San Francisco day - it is the perfect combination of humor and coziness!


That’s so great Max likes to cook -and just pbj sandwiches! And, he likes doing that for his family! You have done a great job, Mama! Like others, I like seeing that sweet Smokey face. Miss him!


NOT just pbj sandwiches!

Cynthia Lewis

What a lovely dinner prepared by Max and Jean-Marc! You are so fortunate to be able to visit him for a meal in his new "digs". :) I wish you and all of your family a Bonne Année along with my thanks for another year of beautiful and inspiring essays and photos. My very best wishes.


Hi Kristi,
So nice to have Max living close by so you can visit!
Love the photo of Smokey looking in the window!
Happy New Year!


Always enjoy traces of Smokey.
Hope you are off to a Happy New Year!

Joan Chardkoff

I enjoyed your sweet article. I used to live in Louisiana and recommend that Annie look up a recipe for Bananas Foster. It adds brown sugar and cinnamon to the bananas.

Cerelle Bolon

Kristi, dear, I remember YOU falling for Marc hook, line and sinker! That was a joyous event and I fell quite as suddenly for my husband, Bill, too. When you know, YOU KNOW! No need to play foolish games but marry the man you love. We were engaged six weeks after our first date and married 6 months later when my parents got to know him and I had finished summer school. Sadly, I lost him two months before our 50th wedding anniversary in 2013, but I am eternally grateful for the good years we had together. I loved that happy family photo of you all in this story. Blessings for you all in 2023. Hugs from your Arizona friend, Cerelle

Jeanine Woods

I love this journal. You are blessed to have Max so close and to have you over for dinner. What a treat! Ahh, Smokey, I miss your life lessons gras a Smokey and love seeing his sweet face in the picture. 'Se faire avoir comme un bleu' will come in handy- I love the idiomatic expressions you share, along with stories, of course. Bonne Journée!


Interesting that in English it's "green" to be inexperienced-- se faire avoir comme du vert?

Karla Ober

So nice to hear your voice again, Kristi ! You have a lovely speaking voice!

Sweet story. Thank you. Such fun to read all the things you share.

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