Our new stagiaire even helps with the dishes! Alexis is helping Jean-Marc here at the vineyard. 

stage (stazh) noun, masculine

    : internship, training period

faire un stage = to do an internship
le/la stagiaire = trainee, intern

Speaking Bettery French  Speaking Better French: The Key Words and Expressions that You'll Need Every Day. Order here.


A Day in a (French) Life...  by Kristin Espinasse

While our son, Max, is making meringues and scrubbing saucepans at a local restaurant, another young man is interning at our farm! Twenty-year-old Alexis (Alex-ee) began un stage here at Domaine Rouge-Bleu on Monday....

While Jean-Marc can ease up a bit now that he is receiving extra help on the vineyard, I am back in first gear, climbing up a steep mountain of ménage. The souci isn't the extra laundry to do or the extra beds to make (Alexis is living independently, in his own garçonnière), no, the worry that I am referring to has to do with "le menu".

When it's just us folks to feed, the living is easy--and often cheesy! Indeed, a plate of fromage and homemade bread, yesterday's casserole (or Monday's instead?) will suffice. When you set aside pride there's suddenly a motley potley of possibilities just waiting to be tried!

But when an elegant young Frenchman issued from a family of fine taste arrives—here—to what might otherwise be known as a kitchen dive, who could blame the hillbilly hostess for wanting to run and hide?


Hélas, hiding in a closet won't get the noonday meal on the table: but a little effort will. I leave you now with this week's menu... before I dash off to roast some potatoes.

Les Petits Pois Cassés avec Jambonneau dans son Bain de Bouillon à Gogo

Split Peas with Ham Hocks in a Bath of (vegetable) Stock à Go-go

Les Pâtes au Roquefort accompagnés de "Wraps Laitue Fanée"
Roquefort Pasta with Wilted Lettuce Wraps

Le Poulet "Thierry Yaké" avec du Riz Collant Accidentelle
("Teri Yake" Chicken With Accidental Gluey Rice)

La Bolognaise, Assortiment du fromages... suivi d'une Tarte Aux Pommes-Peanut Butter

Bolognese (Hamburger) Pasta, an Assortment of Cheeses... followed by a Peanut Butter and Apple Tart.

Les Côtelettes de Porc Endormies dans Leur Sauce de Soja servi avec Pommes de Terre Provençal.
Pork cutlets Put to Sleep in Soja Sauce and Served with Provencal Potatoes. (Whoops! No time for fancy pancy potatoes. These may get wrapped in foil and baked!)

Voilà. A little bit gastro and a little bit goofy. Just the kind of comfort food that this accidental stagiaire—and mère—can share.

Here's Alexis talking to his Mom. Aww. On second thought, maybe he is telling her he has a stomachache from the motley potley peanut butter cake?

Le Coin Commentaires
Have your say about today's French Word of the day. Would you like to comment on the story? (Would you like to leave Alexis a message? Just click here. He'll enjoy that!)


Next Meetup: PARIS! On March 1st at Shakespeare & Company bookshop I will be talking about writing, publishing, and--bien sûr--blogging!  (Begins at 7 p.m.) See an excerpt from the talk, on video here.

French Vocabulary and Sound File
Hear my daughter pronounce the following French words: Download Stage

Alexis fait un stage dans notre domaine viticole.
Alexis is doing an internship at our winery

le stage = internship
le/la stagiaire = intern, trainee
le ménage = housework
le souci = worry
la garçonnière = bachelor pad
le fromage = cheese
la demoiselle = the young lady
la gastro (gastronomie) = gastronomy
hélas = alas
une mère = mother (note: this word is missing from the sound file)

Exercises in French Phonics Exercises in French Phonics, bestseller by Francis W. Nachtman, on French pronunciation and how to pronouce French words correctly!

French Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide

I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany

Learn French In A Hurry: Grasp the Basics of Français Tout de Suite


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


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Bill in St. Paul

Alexis, hang in there. Jean-Marc and the children don't look underfed so Kristin must be feeding them well.

So, Kristin, where was le mot "demoiselle" in the story? It's in the vocabulary but I don't see it in the story. Was some part left out? Who was the young lady and why was she omitted (he said suspiciously)?

(I'll post the French school web sites shortly.)


At first when you said menage, I didn't know that word meant housework!! Forgive me! It's always fun to have a guest. My family used to love it because they knew the meals would get better. Hang in there. It will be back to peanut butter and nutella next week.

Kristin Espinasse

Bill, you caught me! Yes, I did delete a certain passage (oh là là... well make this the mystery part!).

Jeanne, so true about cooking for the guests and the family... finally getting a good meal!

In other notes... I was surprised when several emails were returned to my inbox due to racial discrimination. This isnt the first time my newsletter has been filtered. I just wonder what the word was (maybe hillbilly?)



Bonjour, Alexis. Bienvenue to FWAD! It's always good to add new characters to our peu de coin of the world here.

How long is Alexis with you Kristin. How long will you have to keep up the pretense that you eat pomme de terre Provençal and Le Poulet "Thierry Yaké" every day **smile**? By the way, why does that menu item have an asterisk by it?

Bon chance, Alexis.

It's cold (of course) here in Missouri this morning and the sky is threatening snow this weekend.

mary paulson

you had me laughing out loudly at 5;00am when you referred to yourself as the "hillbilly hostess"! oh my sides are hurting. Thank you for starting my day. I am a new subscriber who appreciates your wonderful site! Mary in beaverton

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Mary. I am someone assured--but still not certain--that hillbilly is politically correct.

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Ah, Les Petits Pois Cassés avec Jambonneau dans son Bain de Bouillon à Gogo! Winter weather brings out the split pea soup even in the States. After digging out of another 16 inches of snow in Central New Jersey we had homemade split pea soup avec jambonneau et carrots. Our friends, Dave and Linda had homemade split pea soup with popovers on the side.

Alexis, tell Kristin there is a nice gourmet variation on split pea soup that I first had at a restaurant in San Francisco which is supposed to be a Belgian. Puree the soup, serve with a dollop of creme fraiche on top and a shot of sherry on the side for diners to gently stir in for individual taste. The restaurant was called Au Bonne Pain and from its windows you could view the Golden Gate Bridge and SF Bay!

Sarah Towle

Dear Kristin,

You mean if I get a stagiare, I will become a gourmet cook too?

Sounds like some good eatin' going on in your house! Enjoy it, Alexis.

Kristin, please come visit me at my new site:

Looking forwarding to seeing you at Rouge-Bleu in April!


I undertook a Stage in 1978 at a restaurant in Strasbourg. Unfortunately, the kitchen was extraordinarily unsanitary, even by my young, 28-year-old standards, and after the first week I hit the road. I looked for a spot in the kitchen brigade at Le Crocodile, a notable restaurant also in Strasbourg, and even asked the owner of Taillevent (in Paris), if he had a place for me in his kitchen. No success, malheuresement... so I spent the rest of the summer running around Europe, then went back to San Francisco and took over the kitchen of L'Orangerie, a notable downtown restaurant.
From 1999-through-2003, I worked on a series of private yachts in the Mediterranean, and always spent a month or two in Paris after the season, taking language classes, and generally soaking up the culture, food, wine, and Euro life. I also mounted my first art show at L'Espace Griffon, a municipal gallery in Le Maris, April 2005.
Thanks for reading....
D.P. Larousse

Sharon O'Neal

Bon chance Alexis! And for Kristin, if you have a microwave, you can bake potatoes wrapped in paper towels (pierce them all over first!) in about 4-5 minutes! Your Peanut Butter and Apple cake sounds divine. Sharon, Apex, NC Postscript: Moving to Paris this summer -- indefinite stay!

Jules Greer

I can imagine that Jackie has a few meals cooking in her pretty little head also. I can remember when my oldest brother Bruce (he was 20 when I was 12) would bring his college friends over to our home. I would always have on my favorite outfit and ask them for dance lessons. How is Jackie reacting to having such a gorgeous guy at the vineyard...I'm sure she is at lunch on time this week.



Martine Simmons

Merci pour tous les mots du jour, mais attention à la «gastro» dont pourraient souffrir ceux qui font trop bonne chère !

Sarah Wilcox

Thanks, everyone, for the language school ideas on Wednesday. There really doesn't seem to be anything in the southwest, but I guess it wouldn't kill me to spend a few weeks in Antibes or Provence!

Jacqui McCargar

I hope Alexis has a s much fun as I did there although I know the work is hard too! You don't give yourself enough credit for your cooking Kristi, everything I ate was good and I especially loved the Tapenade and Tomate Tarte. I can see in my memory Jackie and Max at the kitchen table spreading Nutella on their baguettes, lol...BTW, I like to bake potatoes (scrubbed and pierced, of course) in the oven sans foil but oiled with olive oil, the skins get nice and crispy and that, bien sur, is the best part!

Mary Deignan

Kristin, a vocabulary question: When I look up cambuse, I get responses like "store-room" and "galley." Is la cambuse a catch-all term?

Mary in snow-packed Gettysburg


Forget the stagiare, I am totally in awe of you for having planned a whole week's are a genius! I am glad Jean-Marc is getting a break even if Houston is hardly a break. Have a lovely weekend all of you!



Thierry Yaké.....brilliant!!!


Sharon and Jacqui - thank you for the recipe tip (and, Jacqui, for your very kind words!). I ended up making Philippe Pins "steamed" potatoes (Philippe passed away several years ago. He was married to Jean-Marc's aunt). Marie-Françoise, Philippe's sister-in-law, gave me the recipe which consists of "steaming" the halved potatoes on a thick layer of herbes Mom, isn't he gorgeous? Yes, Jackie has been present for every meal! Loved your story about Uncle Bruce and your dance partners!

de provence. That's all--and a old fry pan! 20 minutes later and you'll be in heaven!

Mary, re what is a "cambuse": good question! I saw the word in the dictionary this morning and thought I'd try it out. Waiting for Newforest to tell us if it is correct--in this context (as an apartment or "flat") or not.

Mona -- thanks! I did it day by day. Now to figure out what to cook next week....


Kristin - many years ago I had a girlfriend from rural Appalachia (Pennsylvania), and I asked her about the word 'hillbilly.' She had originally (first) said 'I'm a hillbilly,' and I asked her if 'hillbilly' was an acceptable term. She shrugged, and replied, 'Among ourselves. So long as you don't use it against us.' So I never used the word. That's probably the source of your returned emails, although any reasonable person knows that you didn't have malice in your heart.

Patty Beynet

Kristin, Love your plays on words and creative spellings! You always make me smile. You are so clever! Patty B

Marianne Rankin

Alexis, je vous souhaite un stage formidable chez les Espinasse! Ce sera une excellente education en viticulture, je suis certaine. Allez-vous preparer le sol, ou que ferez-vous en cette saison? Nous nous interessons a vos activites.

David Larousse, you have done several impressive things. Good going!

Kristin, it's surprising you served a dish with peanut butter, since it was used for the word "Beurk" (yuk) in the book "Words in a French life." Or is a little bit OK?

Good going with the week of meals. As one of the thousands trapped in the blizzards which hit the East Coast, I learned to make do with whatever is in the house. I assured my son that if we ran out of beverages, we would still have water! And if the fresh and frozen foods ran out, we still have canned goods. We could probably survive for a month without going to the store if we had to, even if our meals were odd combinations of things. A friend e-mailed me a recipe for carrot soup, but since it included turnips (something I didn't have on hand), I'll have to make it some other time.

If you feel like posting the recipe for Tapenade, I'll try to make it.

Whatever various filters think of "hillbilly" as insulting or not, I always thought it referred only to people in the Eastern to Central mountains (HILL-billy, after all), not to folks in the Southwest. Kristin has called herself a "desert rat," which isn't flattering enough; maybe "desert flower" would be better?

joie  carmel,ca

I could not imagine a bad meal at your maison. All french food is good. If you have little potatoes, toss them in a little olive oil and minced rosemary or tarragon and bake in the oven for about 15 min....yummy, and you can pick at them all day. Is there a french word that would be similar to "yummy"??? I have just started a kitchen renovation in my tiny house, so my kitchen is now in a bedroom...refrig in the LR...that is only 17x13 and the contractor took half of you meals sound sublime to me.

Lee Isbell

So elegant that French can turn "pea soup" into Les Petits Pois Cassés avec Jambonneau dans son Bain de Bouillon à Gogo.

dorothy dufour

Bonjour Alexis et tout le monde!

I just remembered one of my favourite French expressions - "manger au bout des dents" which
I'm sure doesn't happen chez vous.

Speaking of Teriaki, remember that song from the fifties? It wasn't about food at all, but was a lovesong by Kyu Sakamoto, and the only Japanese song EVER to be on the American hit parade.... He died in a horrible plane crash, and is revered in Japan like Elvis.
Cheers, Dorothy in Abbotsford; mild but not sunny.

maureen bober

I am a 42 years old american girl looking for a nanny/housekeeper job in france, I have many years experience with child development education, as well as on the job training. Worked with 2 families for many years and am looking to relocate to France. I also love animals and have many wonderful references for you. If interested please email me at [email protected], I would love to talk with you and know I could be a great addition to you and your family. Am available for short term or long term employment.'
thanks Maureen

Jennifer Jaffe

Is it too late for Jean Marc to do a wine tasting for us in the Wine Country ? Santa Rosa to be exact. Our favorite wine store Traversos can't keep his wine in stock for too long because it is so delicious!! When we give it as gifts people always come back for more.
We laugh because it comes in and goes right out again. I have talked to the owners of Traversos about having Jean Marc do a tasting and they were in agreement because of the excitement and the following of his fans. They were going to talk to the distributor and I was going to write you to ask if it were possible. We didn't realize there was already a trip planned for the US.

Karen in Towson, Md. USA

Kristin, when do you get un stagiare?

Alexis, at the Espinassi's, it's not what's on your plate that counts - it's the whole meal (a metaphor).

Ellen Sue Pilger

I shared this story with my husband and he said it reminded him of me when we are hosting a dinner or guests over night. I always want to make sure everything is tasteful and beautifully served even though we are quite casual people. It is the good cheer that is always the best ingredient. I can tell that there is a plethora of that spice at chez Espinasse. I'm searching for Domaine Rouge Bleu in Santa Barbara and am awaiting news of Jean'Marc's visit to Los Angeles so I can add that wonderful touch to my next soiree.


Here in Florida it has been an unusually rainy and cold winter and we are eating more substantial foods this year and I am doing more baking than I have since we moved here. I have never heard of peanut butter cake. What is it?

I am from East Tennessee originally and "hillbilly" is okay to use. Many people there refer to themselves as "hillbillies?. If someone uses it with the intent to demean another then it is not okay. All in fun!

Jill in Sydney

Kristin I had to laugh when I read your story. Our former French exchange student has returned to stay with us as he has found an internship in Sydney . Last time he was here he raved about my cooking, so the presssure is on. I too have planned my week's menus in advance and this morning was out early to do the shopping. Here is what Florent from Marseille will be eating this week in Sydney.
Saturday: pesto lamb with roast vegetable salad
Sunday: tandoori chicken
Monday: stir fried pork and tofu
Tuesday: gnocchi with capsicum pesto
Wednesday: home made burgers
Thursday: pasta carbonara
That's as far as I got! Hope it's up to his standard!! Oh and I nearly forgot, being French he loves his fruit and cheese after dinner, so as it's stone fruit season here he will be eating peaches and some Tasmanian cheeses I also bought this morning. And as he's now 22 I guess there will be some good Aussie wines thrown in as well. Hope you have enjoy the company of your intern as we will enjoy Florent's

Kristin Espinasse

Karen, thank you for pointing this out! Did you want to apply to be my stagiaire? :-) Lets see, you would need to be skilled in the areas of.... on second thought, you are a mom--so you instantly qualify!

Sharon, glad you asked about the cake recipe (which is actually a tart recipe--only I used the word cake in my story because it rhymed).

Peanut Butter Pie
one store-bought (or homemade) pie crust is needed, along with peanut butter, apples (any kind, or pie kind...), and applesause.

Directions: spread peanut butter (we had crunchy on hand) over pie crust (thick or thin layer, to your taste). Set sliced apples on top, in a design--or in a haphazard fashion, depending on your patience level (mines low...). Add a few heaping soup-spoonfuls of apple sauce and spread over the apples. Bake for 20 or so minutes.

The pie is flat. I cut ours with a pizza roller. It was delicious (and not as bizarre as I thought it might be). Backstory: we had three expired pie crusts on hand... as well as peanut butter and apples... Voilà! Peanut Butter Pie was born of necessity!

Kristin Espinasse

Jill, I just saw your menu for the week. Cant we all just come over to your place? What delicious plans! Enjoy you time with Florent.

Candy in SW KS

I'm trying to picture (being the visual person that I am!) "sleeping pork", "GoGo sauce" and "accidental rice"! How nice! Sounds like a recipe from the 60s! ha! Just goes to show ya that everything sounds better in French :) Bien fait, Kristin!

Matt Mahon

Bonjour Alexis, C'est bon apprendre quelchose nouveau et surtout avec la famille Espinasse. Bon chance. Matt

Christine Dashper

Hi Kristin,

I am fascinated by the Peanut Butter and Apple pie! Hmmm... yum. You sound like my kind of cook, 'flexible' with recipes, do you change ingredients too?

By the way I made the Cake aux Olives (Madame Delhome's) from the recipe in your book. We all loved it. Les enfants (16,22) were a little doubtful at first, but it won them over.

Alexis, enjoy your time as un stagiaire, bon chance.

Stay warm all, it's foggy, soggy and humid in Melbourne today. :)

all the best

Jennifer in OR

I didn't know there was such a thing as a "racial discrimination" filter. My dad was very proud to be a "hillbilly" from West Virginia and I can't even begin to count the number of times he referred to himself as such. I actually used the word "hillbilly" in my post today, so maybe it won't pass through some folk's filters either! :-)

Enjoy your time with Alexis!


I must tell you how much I enjoy this blog I feel as thought I have learnt to much. I really look forward to each of your post. I find them very insightful and interesting. I have a question regarding a French Vocab, and I was curious if you could help. I have this phrase 'Vos lèvres sont plus douces que le miel' and I was under the impression it meant 'Your lips are sweeter then wine', but I realise the literal translation of 'le miel' is honey (unless I have been mistaken). Mainly I was wondering which was true, and do you say this gender neutral when you are saying it to one person?

Have a wonderful time!


Love your blog... and I finally (finally!) found a copy of your book Words in a French Life. I'm getting ready for my trip to Paris the end of July. I hope you will be making an appearance at Shakespeare and Co. sometime in late July or August!


Weekend away so, joining our Coin commentaires a bit late. Sorry about that.

I couldn't possibly miss the point made by Jacquelyn, 2 posts above mine -> 'Your lips are sweeter than honey'.
The French word for “honey” is definitely “le miel” and not “le vin”. ('honeymoon' is "lune de miel"... not .... 'de vin'!) The French translation is -> “Vos lèvres sont plus douces que le miel.”

You may come across the expression where the article “le” in front of the noun “miel” has been omitted.
-> “être doux comme miel” = “être doux comme le miel”. (= to be as sweet as honey)
-> plus doux que (le) miel = extrêmement doux.

The adjective is:
- “doux”, with a masculine noun - either singular or plural
- With a feminine sing noun, the adj “doux” becomes “douce”.
- With feminine plural, which is the case in your sentence (as it applies to “lèvres”, feminine plural), “doux” becomes “douces”.

If the problem of 'gender' you mentioned is related to the word "miel" -> you can be sure that "miel" is a 'masculine' noun. Whether you address your sentence to one personne or to several, there would be no reason for the noun "miel" to become... 'neutral'.

Hope it helped.


Hi Mary in Gettysburg,

You are right, “une cambuse” is a store-room.
The word, originally, belongs to the navy: it is the room in a ship where they would store food and wine. The men in charge would distribute food to the crew (their daily ration). Food was cooked in the nearby kitchen. La cambuse was often dark and lacked ventilation.

In a different context, the word “cambuse” got attributed to a canteen for people working on a large building site, workers in a big factory -- or, to a restaurant (rather cheap, crowded, and of very low standard).

It has become a pejorative word for a place where you can eat and drink.

It is also used as a slang / familiar word for a bedroom that looks more like a junk room where everything is on top of each other - also used for a miserable bedsit, a small, uncomfortable & untidy house.


Salut Alexis,

Mille excuses pour mon retard à te souhaiter la bienvenue...

J'espère que tu es maintenant rodé à la vie du Domaine Rouge-Bleu: travaux sur le terrain avec Jean-Marc, repas et pauses avec la charmante famille Espinasse.

You are a very lucky student and I wish you all the best.

Have a brilliant week! (how many more to go?)

Kristin Espinasse

Joie, you asked about a French word for yummy. Has anyone mentionned miam-miam?

Newforest, thank you for the miel info and for cambuse. Yikes! Id better find another word (for it is Jacques apartment that Alexis is staying in... and I know Jacques took the time to tidy up and leave a welcoming place to our stagiaire). And, darn, I was really liking the word cambuse, hoping it would mean pad (bachelor pad). Perhaps I can change it to garçonnette?



Un garçonnet is "un petit garçon", "un jeune garçon"
so, I'm pretty sure you meant:
---> "une garçonnière" (petit appartement de célibataire)
which would be a perfect word in this context.

In fact, not knowing the place in question was Jacques' flat, I thought poor Alexix was actually living not too far from your place, in a very messy room / bedsit .

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