ArmenianrestaurantIn the Middle Ages the trade guilds of France--labor unions of that day--presented the first crude one-act plays. By the time of Joan of Arc these interludes, or farces, were "stuffed" or crammed in between the acts of the main performance. The French word farce is derived from farcir, going back to the Latin farcire which meant "to stuff."

--from "Word Origins: An Exploration and History of Words and Language" by Wilfred Funk

farcir (far-seer) verb
  to stuff

(photo: outside the Armenian table d'hôte)

On le sait que c'est l'intention qui compte, mais ça aide de la farcir d'un brin de discernement, de temps en temps.

We know that it is intention that counts, but it helps to stuff it with a bit of discernment, from time to time.
--Antonine Maillet

A Day in a French Life...
The hostess wore a floor-length gown, black as the hair pinned up above the nape of her neck. Her bangs fell over the curve of her brow, stopping short of the glittering earrings which dangled from her earlobes. Above the plunging neckline of her dress, her lips were unglossed and naturally red and they curled up at the sides as she told us about the Armenian delicacies that she had prepared for us.

"How did you hear about me?" our hostess asked, standing at the head of the unique table in her reservations-only établissement.* As she poured the Lebanese wine, first in rosé, later in red, all eyes settled on the English woman in the blue dress seated across from me.

"So it took a tourist to find me!" the hostess teased, chiding the group of locals at our table; "local" despite the countries we represented: Algeria, Russia, Norway, Morroco and Italy. Only one Frenchman was present, and he sat next to the American who sat across from her English friend (who isn't really a tourist I might add, of my pal Alicia, but owns a pied-à-terre* nearby) who had
made dinner reservations after spotting a sign next to the three recycle bins below our medieval village. An Armenian table* only six kilometers from here? Alicia was intrigued... and so were we.

Our Armenian hostess with the fiery eyes told us that she had always lived in the ancient hamlet of Les Nouradons, which her ancestors named when they settled there as refugees having fled Armenia in 1915. "Les Nouradons" is an Armenian term for "Bienvenue," or "Welcome," we learned, as we raised our glasses for the toast.

Over the course of three hours, we sampled a dozen or so recettes* passed down from our hostess's foremothers. The meza, or appetizers buffet, included Armenian pizza, okra stew, légumes farcis* and other savories, some rolled in home-grown vine leaves (carefully hand-picked and blanched by our hostess), others stuffed into baby eggplants or spread over lavash,* and still others dipped into garlic cucumber yogurt or dripping from our fingers, like the gooey Baklava that brought a sweet close to our meal.

At the end of the feast, we downed Armenian coffee and copied our friend Misha, who studied the "marc" or thick deposit left at the bottom of the cup. Apparently, a future could be read in the swirl of those grains. Inspired by the avenirs* we'd invented, we wobbled, stuffed as those baby eggplants, out the door and into the black but hopeful night.

References: établissement (m) = establishment; le pied-à-terre (m) = a secondary home; table (from "la table d'hôte") = a communal table for all the guests of a hotel or restaurant. To reserve this Armenian table, near Draguignan (dinner = 30 euros per person), call Mme Ohannessian at (33) (0)4 94 73 38 04; la recette (f) = recipe; légume farci (m) = stuffed vegetable; lavash = kind of flat bread, similar to pita bread; l'avenir (m) = future

French Pronunciation:

Listen to Max pronounce the word "farcir": Download farcir2.wav

Hear Max's sentence: "Ceci est une tomate farcie à la provençale." (This is a stuffed tomato, provence style.): Download farcir4.wav

Related Terms & Expressions:
la farce = stuffing
une farce = a prank, practical joke
un farceur, une farceuse = a practical joker
farceur, farceuse (adjective) = mischievous
tomates farcies = stuffed tomatoes
farci de fautes = littered with mistakes
se farcir quelqu'un = to put up with someone
avoir la tête farcie = to have had enough (of another's shenanigans, of one's own problems) Ex.: J'ai la tête farcie! = I've had about as much as I can take!

Verb Conjugation:
je farcis, tu farcis, il/elle farcit, nous farcissons, vous farcissez, ils/elles farcissent (past participle: farci)

Further insight into the term "farcir" in "The Hors D'Oeuvre Bible," by David Larousse. Discover David's book, here.

More references to the French word "farcir" in these books:

The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute
The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute by Michael Ruhlman

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection
The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman

Word Origins: An Exploration and History of Words and Language
Word Origins: An Exploration and History of Words and Language by Wilfred Funk

The Sauce Bible: Guide to the Saucier's Craft
The Sauce Bible: Guide to the Saucier's Craft by David Paul Larousse

The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond
The Post Card: From Socrates to Freud and Beyond by Jacques Derrida and Alan Bass

World Food France (Lonely Planet World Food Guides)
World Food France (Lonely Planet World Food Guides) by Steve Fallon and Michael Rothschild

Cool Restaurants Chicago (Cool Restaurants)
Cool Restaurants Chicago (Cool Restaurants) by Michelle Galindo, Rose Lizarraga, and Desiree Von La Valette

Doughs, Batters, and Meringues (French Professional Pastry Series)
Doughs, Batters, and Meringues (French Professional Pastry Series) by Roland Bilheux and Alain Escoffier

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