My mother-in-law's French is so colorful and I love to listen to her stories -- no matter how many times she repeats herself! Jean-Marc's mom, Michèle-France, has a great sense of humor and does not take herself too seriously, either. She is a real moulin-à -paroles, or chatterbox, but when my ears go numb I can always tell her to zip it! and she won't be offended. A little more about my belle-mère's recent visit in today's feuilleton, or sketch. (Picture, above, taken in the town of Sarrians.)
un feuilleton (fuhy-tohn)
: soap opera ; an essay or sketch
from feuillet sheet of paper (feuilleton is also a novel--or work--that is published in installments)
A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse
"What ARE you doing?" I say to my mother-in-law, who is seated in front of the TV. Suddenly she has that deer-in-the headlights look in her eyes as I pass by her on my way to the kitchen.
"I'm watching a feuilleton," she admits. "It is the only one I follow," she's quick to add.
My mother-in-law needn't explain her guilty pleasure. I used to watch soap operas too and feel just as embarrassed when caught. I would quickly switch channels to the news station when Jean-Marc appeared, as he inevitably would, at the climactic moment of revelation (was Brooke pregnant with her father-in-law's child? Would Taylor make it out of the Harem alive?) I could not blink an eye as I waited for the moment of truth... but that moment was occasionally interrupted when Bonjour! Jean-Marc arrived home early for lunch. Grrrhhh!
Amour, Gloire, et Beauté ("The Bold and The Beautiful," funny how titles are lost in translation...) was my weekday fix as a young, out-of-work expat. And if my then-boyfriend thought the daytime dramas were débile, he was unaware of their educational aspect. I learned street French thanks to the smut tube, and no longer spoke like a textbook. (i.e. Marie fait sa toilette. No she didn't! Marie got ready, however you said that in French. I listened closely to Brooke and to Taylor, who never uttered the humiliating-sounding French word. I hoped I never had to either!)
I don't watch TV anymore (which may explain the downward spiral of my French) but I have nothing against my mother-in-law watching her feuilleton--(Plus belle la vie is her nightly drug) especially while she is making our evening meal: a velvety pumpkin-ginger soup. She chops as she watches.
I study my mother-in-law with the deer-in-headlights eyes. The problem with being quick to admit guilt is that you inadvertently highlight another crime, one you might have gotten away with!
Pointing to the pumpkin I am furious. "You were supposed to wait for me to help you peel those!" I say, casually taking the seat beside the chef. "I used to watch soaps, too," I admit, "they're really language lessons..."
My mother-in-law's eyes are bright. "Yolo! yolo," she sings.
"What are you saying?"
"I don't know, but--yolo! yolo!--I hear it all the time," my mother-in-law says, pointing her knife to the smut tube.
"Yolo... yolo..." I practice as I chop. I am a little suspicious learning modern-day slang from my children's grandmother (had she heard correctly?) but who am I, a sous-chef, to argue?
Post Note. I just looked up yolo, a word all the French teens are using. Turns out it's an acronym for You Only Live Once. What will the Academie Française think of this latest "borrowing"?
(Yolo! Yolo! Please forward this post to a friend :-)
=>Read a favorite story about my mother-in-law
Michèle-France's Pumpkin/Ginger Soup Recipe:
My mother-in-law is an au pif or "by guesswork" cook. The following recipe was a last-minute inspiration and includes a combination of what was in the fridge (potatoes, ginger)--and what jumped out at us at the market stall (those vibrarnt orange potirons, or pumpkins!). To make this easy, delicious, and healthy soup you will need:
- cubed pumpkin, one large wedge (to visualize the size, think 1/4 of an American football)
- two medium onions, chopped grossièrement (coarsely)
- three carrots, no need to peel the organic kind, the skin has a lot of the vitamins
- ginger root - how much to use? We used four or five standard "olives" worth. Olives, footballs, how do you measure things?..) P.S. not sure if we peeled this one or not.
- two bouillon cubes (you may use a can of chicken broth? In France, that is hard to find... so bouillon cubes it is!)
- four medium potatoes, peeled (you can leave skin on if the patates aren't too clumped with dirt)
- cream is optional (sour cream or liquid cream... you could even put a little milk in? )
- salt, pepper i.e. all the usual suspects...
Put all ingredients in a deep pot and cover with water -- just enough to cover the surface of the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 - 45 minutes. Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments box, where you may also share your soup tips.
Let it cool a bit, then mix. If you do not already have one of these handy soup mixers, buy one now it will change your life! Also works for sauces, dressings, dips, and smoothies! Click here for more info.
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