Bonne Année: How to say Happy New Year in French

Gourmandise in French means "a fondness for food"

Chairs, Tiles, Bouteilles (c) Kristin Espinasse
If you have not yet done so, you must read Robert Camuto's book "Palmento" (as Jean-Marc does, in the following story!). Read the rave reviews. Photo taken last week at the iCedri B&B in Sicily....

gourmandise (goor mahn deez) noun feminine

    : a fondness for food

J'ai mangé par gourmandise et non pas par faim. 
I ate for the fondness of food and not for hunger. 

Audio File: Listen to today's word and example sentence: Download MP3 or WAV


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

I am sitting cater-corner from my husband, on the edge of the B&B bed. I have covered the hand-sewn lace bedcover with two small bath towels. I would not want to drop so much as une miette anywhere in Vittoria's chambre d'amis, prepared with such care and hospitality.

Outside, the camellias are in bloom and the fresh scent of citrus perfumes the air. Only in Sicily! It is wintertime but the flowers in southern Italy are blooming like well-nourished souls, which brings me back to my mission: le dîner.

As for the evening victuailles, it is each to his own or chacun pour soi tonight, especially since we have enjoyed a copious lunch, one that lingered on into the afternoon.... Jean-Marc, at the head of the bed, is reading, but that won't keep me from eating. I reach for the paper bag, wondering how to say "delicatessen" in Italian? I should have paid more attention to the names above the shopfronts but my eyes were trained on the colorful cauliflower (in purple!) and the plethora of prickly pear, or fichi d'India, that decorate the streets this time of year.

Currently all of my attention goes into opening this paper deli sack as quietly as possible.  I try to be discreet because I can't bear it when my husband stops to watch me eat. He always has to make such a big deal about it, as do all of the French with their vocal voeux of "bon appétit!

Jean-Marc Espinasse (c) Kristin Espinasse
                     I stole away to Sicily last week... with him...

With Jean-Marc completely absorbed in his book, I reach into the noisy sack. I notice that my husband has bought two kinds of cheese, quelques artichoke hearts in olive oil, two typical bread rolls (one covered with toasted sesame), a box of bruschetta crackers, and two chocolate bars....

I begin with a hunk of piquant cheese -- one teeming with black peppercorns! I break off some bread to cool my mouth. The second cheese must have chili peppers inside... for more broken bread is needed to temper these taste buds!

So busy am I unwrapping cheese and bread that I forget about the commotion that is being made. Jean-Marc sets his book down and smiles like the devil.

"Ma chérie," he begins, "t'as une petite faim?

Et vas-y! Go ahead and tease me! I nod my head, "and how's your book?" I inquire, in an attempt to divert his attention. It works: Jean-Marc returns to his book and I reach back into the bag for some olive-oil-drenched fonds d'artichaut.... Heavenly!

The crunchy bruschetta gives me away this time....

Jean-Marc raises his eyebrows. "Encore faim, ma chérie?" and there goes the devil, teasingly.

Calmly, I respond. "No. I am just eating slowly!" (the insinuation being that it may appear that I have eaten a lot, but in fact, I have not!)

My feathers are ruffled but this won't keep me from dessert. Nevetherless, I wait, once again, until my husband's eyes are wrapped around the words in his book. With that, I reach for the candy bar....

It takes several minutes to quietly unwrap the bar of white chocolate... in the end my efforts are in vain.

"Et ben! Tu as faim, mon amour!"

Bon, ça suffit, I give in!... 

"No. As a matter of fact, I am not hungry!" Emboldened, now, by the chocolate bars that beckon, I admit, "Je n'ai pas faim du tout! JE MANGE PAR GOURMANDISE!"



une miette
= crumb

une chambre d'amis = spare room, guest room

le dîner = dinner

les victuailles = food 

chacun pour soi = each to his own, fend for yourself 

le voeu (plural: voeux) = wish (more on voeu, here)

bon appétit! = enjoy your meal!

quelques = a few

ma chérie. Tu as une petite faim? = My darling? A little hungry are you?

    * see faim entry, here

Et ben! Tu as faim, mon amour! = Well, would you look at that! You're hungry my love!

Bon, ça suffit = enough is enough!

Je n'ai pas faim du tout! = I'm not hungry at all!

Je mange par gourmandise! = I'm just eating for the pleasure of it!

*reading: while I devoured the food, Jean-Marc devoured the book Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey (At Table)


golden retriever puppy and mother dogs
Smokey (one year ago), learning to wait his turn for les bisous, or kisses, from my brother-in-law, a.k.a. "Uncle Jacques". Oh, it's so hard to wait, so hard to wait! I might just chew on this lace to pass the time...

Speaking of time, do you have a minute for another story? Thanks for taking the time to read about a friendly fisherman-artist in Marseilles. Click here to see photos of Jean-Marc and Camille and read the latter's story.

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


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Bill Facker

In Paris and first to reply - two treats! Enjoyed Mistral here & feel the highest praise I can give your writing is that it equals the incredible wine your husband creates. Superb! Aloha & the happiest 2011 to a truly gifted husband & wife!

Bill in St. Paul

Great pictures and story, Kristin. A belated Happy New year to all, now that our grandchildren (and their parents) have returned home. Smokey has come a long way in a year.

Diane Dainis

I love that story Kristin, been there done that. Sometimes you eat just for the sheer pleasure of it all. Please tell Jean Marc that we had Mistral with Christmas dinner and it was fabulous! Now I just have to concentrate on getting his wines into Massachusetts!!

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

I enjoyed both stories but especially the image of JM teasing you about enjoying the delicacies he bought! When I close my eyes I can taste those fond d'artichaut.

Ophelia in Nashville

Fabulous story, and I love the expression manger par gourmandise. All sounds heavenly!

Eileen deCamp

I love the story today Kristin! I'm sure you enjoyed a beautiful getaway to Sicily!
Did you go into the herbalist's shop, "La Verbena"? The shop where I work carries L'Erbolario products from Lodi, Italy. Verbena is so popular!

Teresa Engebretsen

Quelle belle histoire, Kristin!
Merci! Oh, Jean-Marc, le vilain!


What a treat to be in southern Sicily in the winter. Where were you?

Delicatessen: "La salumeria" is the store where sausage, sliced meats, and often cheeses are sold. The word for cold cuts is "i salumi." A more general word for footstuffs or groceries such as you had in your goody bag is "gli alimentari."

By the way, I smiled at the picture conjured up by the typo in this sentence: "I try to be discreet because I can't bare it when my husband stops to watch me eat." Not quite what you intended to say, right!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

If there is any of the fond d'artichaut left after you’re finished, Suzanne and I will finish them “in abstentia”. I also love them!

I had to look up cater-cornered. I’ve always used catty-cornered. Turns out that catty-cornered and kitty-cornered are variations.

You sure got my taste buds revved up with your story. This is good because tonight my wife and I are going to Sophie’s French Bistro in Phoenix to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I’m thinking. . . Magret de Canard.

À bientôt

Marianne Rankin

I firmly believe that eating is one of the great joys in life - eating, that is, not just refueling. Americans don't always take time to "really" eat, which should, whenever possible, include the company of others. A word I learned in France, and saw in practice, was "deguster," to savor. J'essaie de deguster non seulement les plats, mais toute la vie.

The story about the fellow with the driftwood was also interesting. Did you make art out of any of it?

Julie F in St. Louis, MO

I feel for you in your attempt to engage in the very American habit of eating un casse-croute in a country with such food discipline. When with my French girlfriend I'm always wanting to stop to eat just to taste something new, but she doesn't even eat bread more than once a day and she made my recipe for Christmas fudge and was overwhelmed by the sugar in it. She could actually eat only one or two truffles from La Maison du Chocolat and be satisfied. I need to memorize the phrase "Je mange par gourmandise" and then drop the American guilt.


I agree with Marianne that most Americans don't take the time to enjoy their food. When I spend several hours preparing a 7 course meal, I want my company to enjoy every bit and savor each morsel of food.
Too many people wolf down their food, but then again they are probably eating prepared foods which don't have any taste.
It doesn't take much time to prepare a meal from scratch, which excites the taste buds, has many different textures and pleases the eye.

Frank Levin

For Christmas my sister gave me,"Secret Ingredients, The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink." a wonderful book about eating for the sake of eating. Your story would fit in there nicely.


Oh, I love this story--what a wonderful gift to run away to Italy. Happy New Year.


I received Palmento as a gift (after dropping numerous "hints." Loved Corkscrewed. Your story is beautiful. I can almost smell the camellias and verbena. Thank you so much!


Chocolate is pure pleasure in every sense of the word, but so is the man you love taking you away to Italy!



Kristin I can relate to this situation. My wonderful significant other (he's French) is constantly accusing me of being a "ventre sur pattes". I eat every 3-4 hours to manage a stomach issue. I too have to "sneak" food so as to not draw attention to my dining. Of course, his teasing is all in good fun but I have to say, your story struck a note with me.

Stacy, Applegate, Oregon

I too can relate! My love would be engrossed in something while I would just have to snack on such oh-so-tasty treats!

Thank you for this few minutes escape today as it was just what I needed. This morning’s farm chores in the freezing temps had me dreaming of a warm vacation. I love the idea that somewhere camellia and citrus scent the air...made even better knowing you enjoyed such a delight.

I love the photos and look forward to seeing more of Sicily. Must put on my new years to do list: obtain passport! :)

Pat Cargill

Lovely image of you two relaxing, enjoying quiet times together, food, wine, good books, the love of one's life nearby. Ah...

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you for these wonderful words!

Bill, Diane, Julie S.: Jean-Marc and I are so pleased to read your stories/feedback about the wine! Many thanks!

Eileen: no, we did not stop into the shop. I was tempted to... but redirected such temptation to the shop windows, where a little "lèche-vitrine" or "window licking" was a safer bet!

Passante: we were in the Catania area, near Trecastagni. We visited Nicolosi, Viagrande, Caltagirone, Linguaglossa, the seaside town of Acireale...

Marianne: re the driftwood: we never made art out of it, but saved it as a souvenir.

Stacy: I hope you'll get your passport soon! Bon courage with the farm chores this time of year!

Herm: Bonne fête! Hope you and your wife had a wonderful celebration.

gail bingenheimer

Florence et Venise sont de véritables villes musée.
The cities of Florence and Venice are true museums.

Lisa@ Tarte du Jour

I loved this tale of your husband's gentle teasing. I great slice of life story indeed! Bonne Année!


Happy New Year to you all.
I loved today's story. Shame on Jean-Marc teasing you like that!
The snacks sound delicious!


Oh dear! I think there is an unintentional double entendre in the comment that you cannot"bare it" when your husband watches you eat--you perhaps intended to say "bear it" which has a rather different meaning.
I enjoy your commentary and photos very much. Just had to tease you a bit.

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