nom d'emprunt


Boats (c) Kristin Espinasse)
Marseilles is the setting for today's story. (Photo taken in the fishing village of Callelongue).

Who hasn't had the fantasy of leaving his or her old life behind to start over? What would happen if you gave up your job, city, state, and routine to move to another part of the world? Critically acclaimed writer and aspiring painter James Morgan does just that. Risking everything, he and his wife shed their old, settled life in a lovingly restored house in Little Rock, Arkansas, to travel in the footsteps of Morgan's hero, the painter Henri Matisse, and to find inspiration in Matisse's fierce struggle to live the life he knew he had to live. Part memoir, part travelogue, and part biography of Matisse, Chasing Matisse proves that you don't have to be wealthy to live the life you want; you just have to want it enough. Order "Chasing Matisse", here:

gober (go-bay) verb
  : to swallow, to scarf, to gulp down

se gober: to think a lot of oneself, to fancy oneself
un gobeur, une gobeuse = one who is gullible

And... ever heard of the word "gobe-mouche"? It means, literally, "fly-gobbler" and it is another word for someone who believes everything he hears. Can't you just picture those flies heading, one by one, into the mouth of the astonished (jaws dropped) listener of fantastic stories?

:: Audio File ::
Listen to my daughter, Jackie, pronounce "gober un oeuf" (gobble an egg): Download gober.mp3 .Download gober.wav


Hallelujah and Dieu merci* that I don't have to translate for a living. After re-writing my brother-in-law's story (originally penned in French), and sweating over certain words, I can certainly sympathize with any interpreters who have ever hiccupped before an unfriendly English equivalent....

The "Gober"* story held a wee dilemma or deux* in the translation department... c'est-à-dire*: what might sound all right in French, can sound altogether awkward in English. For this reason, I admit to having experienced a bout of creative amnesia (particularly near the last paragraph) while transcribing today's story. The convoluted truth is: I "forgot" the English equivalents to all of the doubtful words... and that is how they got dumped.

That said, you can see most of the story here now (in English)... or read the entire story (in French) here.

                         "Gober Un Oeuf" by Jacques Espinasse

Back in the beginning of the eighties, already 28 years ago, the southern quarters of Marseilles stretched out into the magnificent neighborhoods of "Mazargues", "Bonneveine", "La Vieille Chapelle", and "La Pointe Rouge"... not to mention "Le Parc du Roy d'Espagne" located near the hills of "Marseilleveyre" beyond which the famous calanques* of Sormiou, Morgiou, and Sugiton bring great joy to the Marseillais.

The neighborhoods, back then, were not yet exploited by those rich, unscrupulous property developers. Over time, though, the builders eventually bought up the great family farms where "natural" vegetables and fruits grew, and where chickens laid their eggs each day, eggs that delighted me twice each week.

My mother, between two piqûres* (she was a district nurse who made house calls) would stop by one of these farms to buy lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, artichokes... and seasonal fruit: strawberries, cherries, peaches, apricots... but what I looked forward to the most, each time she went to the farms, were those fresh eggs--laid that very day. In fact, when I was little, my greatest delight was to "gober un oeuf"!*

That might seem strange, but I did this with the help of a sewing needle, punching a little hole at each end of the egg, then sucking down the precious contents. It is really a very good treat and, what's more, it's all year long--as chickens don't have seasons!

These days, unfortunately, not one of the farms that my mother visited can be found... as apartment buildings have "grown" in the place of vegetables and fruit trees. Once in a while, though, I still have the chance to "gober un oeuf". Fortunately, in the arrière-pays* of Marseilles, one can still find a few of these fermes,* the owners of which knew how to resist the land developers who do not know the pleasure of eating a farm fresh egg.

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Pssst: If you liked Jacques' story, why not drop him a line and let him know? Email him at Jacques.Espinasse [AT]  (replace [AT] with @).

Dieu merci = thank God; gober = to gobble; deux = two; c'est-à-dire = that is to say; la calanque (f) = rocky inlet (from the sea); une piqûre (f) = injection; gober un oeuf = to gobble an egg; l'arrière-pays (m) = hinterland; la ferme = farm

Painless French: grammar, pronunciation, idioms, idiocies (culture) and more!

Songs in French for Children

Lego Make & Create Café Corner:

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety