* Book signing at Crawford Doyle Booksellers: April 15th, from 4:00 to 6:00. RSVP here.
pépin (pay-pahn) noun, masculin
seed, pip, grape-stone
sans pépin = seedless
Serrer trop fort le pressoir donne un vin qui sent le pépin.
Where the wine-press is hard wrought, it yields a harsh wine, that tastes of the grape-stone. --Francis Bacon
:: Audio File ::
Listen to the French word "pépin" and hear the French translation of the quote:
Download pepin.mp3 .
Seedless grapes! Like Caesar salad,* Cheez Whiz, and corn tortillas, these plump and juicy raisins* "sans pépin" were partly responsible for the separation anxiety that I felt upon moving from Phoenix to France.
The French have anxieties of their own, mind you. One of them is waste. This is not a culture known for separating the wheat from the chaff. Instead, the French find a way, and not a waste, for everything. (Think Radish Leaf Soup.) So why should it have been so surprising to find their pips intact?
Then, just the other day, while pushing the grocery cart past several stands of brightly-wrapped chocolate eggs, I saw a sign! "Raisins Sans Pépins". How things change! Giddily, I filled the child-seat of my cart with the wonder grapes.
Cheese has changed over the years, too. When I was a kid, you could spray cheddar from an aerosol can just like you could spray your new Farrah Fawcett hairdo to a concrete halt. Just "point and shoot" to up your calcium intake in one Americana instant. Those were the days.
I marvel at modernity, where French grapes have lost their pips and American cheese its "zip". Fast cheddar is a faux pas. "Slow food" is in--and it had better be raw! I'm delighted to think that Real French Men may now be eating seedless grapes, but I'd make a concrete blond bet that they'd draw the line at spray-on cheese... or fromage* that flies!
salad = (it's the romaine lettuce part that's hard to find!); le raisin (m) sans pépin (m) = seedless grape; le fromage (m) = cheese
Book: Thomas Jefferson on Wine: (seedless grapes, and more, inside the book)
Colorful "French words" metal bucket with wooden handle - practical and stylish. Great for the beach or for gardening!
Antique red stripe pot holder and matching dishtowel set with ABC sampler (hand embroidered) French import
Jesus of Montreal -- French language film about a theatre-loving priest who decides to commission a contemporary Passion Play. Nominated for the 1989 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Mini Oilive Oil and 2 Vinegars Gift Set: includes a delightful burlap and wooden sack containing a fig syrup, balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil.
Handy, pocket-size: Moleskine City Notebook - Paris
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi