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I search the kitchen for récipients. I pull a salad bowl from the cabinet—trop gros. I take a soup bowl from the armoire—pas assez profond. I settle on an old wine glass, a jam jar, a mustard jar, a see-through coffee cup and a tumbler.
As I organize the egg-coloring utensils, my daughter runs up to me. She is wearing a frilly dress with a black velvet haut and a white chiffon bas.
"You'll need to change if you want to help out!" I inform her.
"D'accord!" Jackie agrees, spontaneously obedient.
I measure out ten tablespoons of vinaigre balsamique, annoyed when I can't find the 79 cent bottle of ordinary vinegar. Meantime, Jackie returns with her brother. Both children are wearing faded pajamas, the ones they are allowed to salir.
Max tosses the orange and the blue tablets—one into the wine glass and the other into the jam jar. Jackie plops down the yellow and the red comprimés effervescents, one into the coffee cup and the other into the mustard jar. Three sets of eyes dart to the remaining green tablet.
"That one's mine!" I declare, snapping up the effervescent disk and dropping it into the tumbler.
We watch the tablets fizz in their bains de teinture. The colorful, bubbly display livens up our drab kitchen. Next, we take turns emptying half a cup of eau du robinet into each glass.
"O.K. Stir!" I say, and the kids each take a fork and whisk the water until the tablets are completely dissolved.
"Allez!" I say, bending the wire egg dropper (one egg dropper—two kids! Who put this egg-coloring kit together anyway?) and handing it to Max. Jackie and I watch with bated breath as Max lowers the cooked, brown-shelled eggs into the dye.
"Careful!" I say.
When Max reaches for a third egg, Jackie has a fit.
I have waited until the very last minute before beginning The Project. I estimate we are only about one-third of the way through....
"O.K. Now it's Jackie's turn!" I interject. "Doucement, Jackie..."
The eggs have settled at the bottom of the glasses. Time now to laisser tremper for thirty minutes. (Last year we followed the package instructions for "three minutes" and the eggs surfaced without color. The egg-dying kit is American-made, and it doesn't take into account brown-shelled eggs—the only kind we can get here in our French village.)
Then there'll be decorating to do!... My enthusiasm ebbs as I stare at the tray of messy peinture and all of those tiny stickers (I have a feeling they'll end up everywhere but on the eggshells!). I wish we could skip these next steps.
Just as I begin to get edgy, Jean-Marc pops into the kitchen.
"It's so nice what you do," he offers, as if I always had this kind of patience. I look down. My cheeks turn the color of the oeuf rouge.
le récipient = container
trop gros = too big
une armoire = cupboard
pas assez profond = not deep enough
le haut = top
le bas = bottom
d'accord = O.K.
le vinaigre balsamique = balsamic vinegar
salir = to dirty, soil
un comprimé effervescent = effervescent tablet
le bain de teinture = dye bath
l'eau (f) du robinet = tap water
Allez! = Come on! (let's get moving)
doucement = carefully
laisser tremper = to let soak
la peinture = paint
l'oeuf (m) rouge = red egg
Listen: hear the word 'tremper' spoken by Jean-Marc: Download tremper.wav
Terms & Expressions:
se tremper = to have a quick dip
tremper les lèvres = "to wet one's lips," to take a sip
trempé(e) = drenched
verre trempé = tempered glass
avoir une caractère bien trempé = to have a set character
être trempé jusqu'aux os = to be soaking wet
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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety