jeu de mots


In the lava land of Lanzarote, the Canary Islands, Spain... where we relaxed after the latest grape harvest.. 

creux (creuse) [kreuh, kreuz] adjective

    : hollow, deep, empty

le creux (inv) = a hollow, a dip, a slack period
La Creuse = name of a French river and of a Department in central France 

French Idioms & Expressions

avoir un petit creux = a little hollow in one's stomach (an empty stomach), to feel peckish
les heures creuses = off-peak hours
avoir le nez creux = to be shrewd

There are many more interesting "creux" and "creuse" expressions. Would you like to help out by posting one here, in the comments box?

Sound File: Listen to Jean-Marc pronounce the following words:
note: the sound is problematic... working on this... Download MP3 or Wav

En cas de petit creux, j'ai prévu des petits sandwiches à grignoter....
In the event of a little hunger, I've planned for a few sandwiches to munch on....


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

"The Sandwich Maker in Spain"

Every morning we would line up at the resort's breakfast buffet, Jean-Marc, with his shirt à l'envers, Max and Jackie, with sleepy eyes, and I with an eye on the three stomachs ahead of me.

"Jackie, did you notice the green melon?" I'd suggest, when she reached for the milk and the cereal. We could always have cereal back home, but honeydew melon!
"And did you see the bacon?" We never had bacon for breakfast and this was the chance to sample things we wouldn't normally eat this time of day, back home in France.

"Max, did you leave some for the others?" I'd remind our 15-year-old, who piled his plate with sugary viennoiseries

And Jean-Marc... "JEAN-MARC!!!!"  I'd screech. Presently my husband was making sandwiches! And I knew just what sort of trick he had up his sneaky sleeve... only any self-respecting trickster would cache the object of his trickery. Not this one! Jean-Marc was making a picnic lunch via this breakfast buffet -- comme si de rien n'était! As if everything were A-OK!

Oh no you don't! Don't you start that up here! You did that back in Madrid, for the 15 euro buffet, and, OK, it was quite expensive and you did get your money's worth... but you're not going to start pocketing your picnic here! My mind was arguing up a storm. I could just imagine what would happen to our restful vacation if my husband began to take from the daily breakfast buffet.  Peace would go out the door... along with quite a few of those pancakes, to be sure!

Meantime, Jean-Marc, calm as the cucumbers that were not present (after all, this was a breakfast buffet and not a 24-hour diner!) just kept on building his sandwiches: A little bit of sliced bread... and why not a sesame roll? Inside went the scrambled eggs, some breakfast sausages, oh, and did he fancy a tomato? They had those, too! Other sandwiches were more creative: some hash browns, ketchup, and sliced cheese on wheat (hash browns on wheat??? fried potatoes on toast. Well, whoever...!).  

I was horrified when the fellow vacationers strolled by, sure they had one eye on our sandwich-making monopoly and the other on the manageress, who had checked us in earlier, at the front counter. Would she be sending us a check once she caught sight of our "extra bite"?

"Well, what are they going to do?" Jean-Marc questioned, amused. "Throw us in prison?" With that he would look at me with soft eyes:
"Would you like me to make you one, Chérie?"

"No. No! No! No! I do not want one of your sandwiches."

I thought about my strong reaction, wondering whether my good citizenship was only a cover... for questionable qualities of my own. Finally, I decided that it wasn't pride. No! It was principles!

"Well, you'll wish you'd said Yes," was all the sandwich-maker would say. "Tu vas le regretter...."

And of course he was right. Later on at the beach, around 10 a.m., I would look enviously at the sandwich man. There he sat, beneath the "borrowed" shade (can you believe he even swiped the hotel parasol? "but I did it for you, cherie..."), staring out at the Atlantic sea, the crested waves slapping foam against the sandy beach with its black-ashed sable from volcanic eruptions of long ago. He ate with glee and reverie, those sumptuous sandwiches that now had even me dreaming.

"Would you like a bite, Chérie?"

"No, I would not like a bite!"

And with that I would roll over and pout into my book about a French woman, Gervaise, who was going to pot after "sweeting" to the slow, slovenly, saturated life. My stomach would grumble and I'd turn the page... only to read about yet another smorgasbord. 

The next morning at the breakfast table (and the mornings thereafter) it was the same industrious sandwich-making enterprise.
"Jean-Marc!!!" I began, as usual. "Tu exagères!"
"Peut-être je vais les vendre sur la plage! I might sell them on the beach!" he teased. "It might pay for our vacation!" he went on, taunt after taunt. And like that, I'd steam, right there in my seat.

             The Sandwich-maker in Spain, aka "Chef Grape on Harvest Holiday"

But those sandwiches were looking good. And, true, if you reasoned a certain way, then, really, what was the difference? What with eaters like me -- who took only a piece of toast, an egg, a piece of bacon, and a slice of melon.... one of each, as opposed to the two or three of each as did the man at the next table. Why... one could rationalize! Yes, one could reason, therefore, that a little extra sandwich made from the buffet leftovers (for it helped to call them that) would do no harm....

By day three I began to make suggestions to our sandwich maker.
"I might like some fried egg and some bacon... if that one were mine..." Jean-Marc took the hint and made me up a mid-morning snack. Meantime, Max made himself a mini casse-croute (a modest ham and cheese sandwich on white... and an apple for dessert). Jackie steered clear of this shady sandwichery... preferring to wait for 2 p.m., when respectable Spaniards ate -- and paid -- for their midday meal.

By the end of our vacation my rigid rules were loosening... along with my belt... as I began putting in orders to the sandwich man, instructing Jean-Marc to go light on the sausage... or to avoid the cheese altogether. But I still could not get up the gumption to make my own sandwich. I guess this time you'd have to call it pride.  As for those "principles" I mentioned, I'd lost them somewhere between the clipped ketchup and the heisted hash brown potatoes.


Two Strongly Recommended Books!

While I remained glued to Emile Zola's L'Assommoir, the story about the downward spiral of the working class in 19th Century Paris (owing to alcohol, gluttony, and a fancy for free time...) Jean-Marc was in rapture with the latest book by Robert Camuto, Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey. I thought I might shove two of those sandwiches in my ears if Jean-Marc kept going on and on and on about his love for this book! But then, when my own book ran out of pages, and I'd finished L'Assommoir, I couldn't help but see what all the fuss was about... and steal glances at Jean-Marc's copy of Robert Camuto's latest. Wine and Italy lovers,  don't miss it! 

French Vocabulary

à l'envers = inside out

viennoiseries = pastries

cache (cacher) = to hide

comme si de rien n'était!  = as if nothing were amiss!

Chéri(e) = Darling

Tu vas le regretter! = You'll regret it!

le sable = sand

Tu exagères = you're overdoing it!

le casse-croûte = snack


Family on vacation: Jean-Marc, Jackie, and Kristin

                                                                                                                    15-year-old Max

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