Une sequelle: The aftermath or scars after an accident
Un meli-melo - a collection of miscellany, hodgepodge

Un feuilleton: French for soap opera + recipe for Pumpkin-Ginger soup

bird cage, window, france, clock, Les Cages aux Oiseaux (c) Kristin Espinasse

My mother-in-law's French is so colorful and I love to listen to her stories -- no matter how many times she repeats herself! Jean-Marc's mom, Michèle-France, has a great sense of humor and does not take herself too seriously, either. She is a real moulin-à -paroles, or chatterbox, but when my ears go numb I can always tell her to zip it!  and she won't be offended. A little more about my belle-mère's recent visit in today's feuilleton, or sketch. (Picture, above, taken in the town of Sarrians.)

un feuilleton (fuhy-tohn)

    : soap opera ;  an essay or sketch

from feuillet sheet of paper (feuilleton is also a novel--or work--that is published in installments)

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE... by Kristin Espinasse

"What ARE you doing?" I say to my mother-in-law, who is seated in front of the TV. Suddenly she has that deer-in-the headlights look in her eyes as I pass by her on my way to the kitchen.

"I'm watching a feuilleton," she admits. "It is the only one I follow," she's quick to add.

My mother-in-law needn't explain her guilty pleasure. I used to watch soap operas too and feel just as embarrassed when caught. I would quickly switch channels to the news station when Jean-Marc appeared, as he inevitably would, at the climactic moment of revelation (was Brooke pregnant with her father-in-law's child? Would Taylor make it out of the Harem alive?)  I could not blink an eye as I waited for the moment of truth... but that moment was occasionally interrupted when Bonjour! Jean-Marc arrived home early for lunch. Grrrhhh! 

Amour, Gloire, et Beauté ("The Bold and The Beautiful," funny how titles are lost in translation...) was my weekday fix as a young, out-of-work expat. And if my then-boyfriend thought the daytime dramas were débile, he was unaware of their educational aspect. I learned street French thanks to the smut tube, and no longer spoke like a textbook. (i.e.  Marie fait sa toilette. No she didn't! Marie got ready, however you said that in French. I listened closely to Brooke and to Taylor, who never uttered the humiliating-sounding French word. I hoped I never had to either!)

I don't watch TV anymore (which may explain the downward spiral of my French) but I have nothing against my mother-in-law watching her feuilleton--(Plus belle la vie is her nightly drug) especially while she is making our evening meal: a velvety pumpkin-ginger soup. She chops as she watches.

I study my mother-in-law with the deer-in-headlights eyes. The problem with being quick to admit guilt is that you inadvertently highlight another crime, one you might have gotten away with!

Pointing to the pumpkin I am furious. "You were supposed to wait for me to help you peel those!" I say, casually taking the seat beside the chef.  "I used to watch soaps, too," I admit, "they're really language lessons..." 

My mother-in-law's eyes are bright. "Yolo! yolo," she sings.

"What are you saying?"

"I don't know, but--yolo! yolo!--I hear it all the time," my mother-in-law says, pointing her knife to the smut tube.

"Yolo... yolo..." I practice as I chop. I am a little suspicious learning modern-day slang from my children's grandmother (had she heard correctly?) but who am I, a sous-chef, to argue?  

Post Note. I just looked up yolo, a word all the French teens are using. Turns out it's an acronym for You Only Live Once. What will the Academie Française think of this latest "borrowing"?

(Yolo! Yolo! Please forward this post to a friend :-)

  =>Read a favorite story about my mother-in-law

Michèle-France's Pumpkin/Ginger Soup Recipe:

My mother-in-law is an au pif or "by guesswork" cook. The following recipe was a last-minute inspiration and includes a combination of what was in the fridge (potatoes, ginger)--and what jumped out at us at the market stall (those vibrarnt orange potirons, or pumpkins!). To make this easy, delicious, and healthy soup you will need: 

  • cubed pumpkin, one large wedge (to visualize the size, think 1/4 of an American football)
  • two medium onions, chopped grossièrement (coarsely) 
  • three carrots, no need to peel the organic kind, the skin has a lot of the vitamins 
  • ginger root - how much to use? We used four or five standard "olives" worth. Olives, footballs, how do you measure things?..) P.S. not sure if we peeled this one or not. 
  • two bouillon cubes (you may use a can of chicken broth? In France, that is hard to find... so bouillon cubes it is!)
  • four medium potatoes, peeled (you can leave skin on if the patates aren't too clumped with dirt)
  • cream is optional (sour cream or liquid cream... you could even put a little milk in? ) 
  • salt, pepper i.e. all the usual suspects...

Soup wandNext...
Put all ingredients in a deep pot and cover with water -- just enough to cover the surface of the vegetables. Bring to a boil. Simmer 30 - 45 minutes. Did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments box, where you may also share your soup tips.

Let it cool a bit, then mix. If you do not already have one of these handy soup mixers, buy one now it will change your life! Also works for sauces, dressings, dips, and smoothies!  Click here for more info.


Chez Marie (c) Kristin Espinasse
Photo taken in Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes.


Aubergines (c) Kristin Espinasse
picture taken in Suze-la-Rousse. 

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Eileen - Charlottesville, VA

Hi Kristin,
I have never heard YOLO before! I love the photo of the bright yellow building and the birds. Are they cockatiels? Of course I noticed the lavender on the window ledge too! The one soap opera I used to watch all the time as a teenager was Days of Our Lives. I don't watch that much TV now.


You can tell your mother-in-law that I sometimes get the chance to watch Plus Belle la Vie here in San Diego on TV5 Monde. I have recorded certain episodes to for my students to listen to more current, authentic French. It is a great way to listen to the language and the kids definitely pay attention. I have to be careful to preview episodes though before I show them in class!!


Our dear Kristi,
You not only captured my imagination (again!) with these beautiful pictures, but also by sharing your daily life with us.
I so enjoyed hearing more about your dear belle mere, and how the bond between you becomes more cherished. What a gift(!) as it is for us, your privileged FWAD readers.
Your words paint such wonderful descriptions!
Love, Natalia XO


Here in California, I haven't heard yolo either, but I will have to ask my teenage daughter.

"All My Children" used to be my guilty pleasure in high school and college. Then "General Hospital" during the Luke and Laura heyday. Haven't watched soaps in many years. I think most of them are disappearing.

I checked Jean-Marc's schedule, and when he is in my area, I will be out of town. So sad.


Kristin... Can you share more of the current slang your children and other teens use.

Candy in CO

Merci, Kristin! YOLO - love it! My mother, who now lives with me, loves "Young and Restless" and has watched it for years. I, on the other hand, had not had the "luxury" of watching daytime tv so was not "au courant" with this soap. I had to educate myself (via the internet) on all the characters and storylines so I can help my mother, whose eyesight has been stolen by macular degeneration, figure out what's going on. It's certainly been interesting, if not entertaining :-)

Julia ~ Falling Off Bicycles

I love the photos, Kristin! Especially the adorable bicycle one... of course!

Bisous bisous

Bill in St. Paul

Years ago when I was working downtown, I was walking through a department store's electronic department and stopped in front of a new model TV that was on, showing a soap opera. As I stood there in front of the TV considering the size, cost, etc. of it, I heard this clearing of the throat sound. I turned around to see a woman squatting down, out of the way, but in full view of the TV, looking at me with a withering look which made me realize, heaven forbid, I was blocking her view of the soap.


I would love to have the recipe for pumpkin-ginger soup


The picture is worth to be seized in watercolor or oil - so cheerful and yet peaceful it is! Not even that timepiece, nor the caged birds, interrupt serenity of the moment! Love! Thank you, Kristi.

Herm in Phoenix, Az

Salut Kristin,

Best not distract the knife-wielding chef! She already has her attention divided.

I think there's a typo after the last photo. . . . . When my computer "fried"

A plus tard

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

Your mother-in-law is a lovely guest -- she makes dinner for you!

That is impressive that you learned common phrases by watching le feuilleton.

A nice story today.



I loved your story today.




Ha! I also watch Plus belle la vie. Hard for me to follow with all the argot, but at least it has no subtitles. My excuse is that I need to develop my 'ear' for spoken French. I used to watch Sous le soleil, just for the views of St. Tropez ;). Love that TV5!

Wells Edmundson

Over the years the name Billy Clyde Tuggle bubbles up in a pejorative vein("The Young and Restless" ?) as a reminder that no matter how worthless a man can be, some woman will still take him in...a real 'chien mechant'...he made us average guys look like real heros in our personal relationships !

Kitty Wilson

Psst, a small usage boo-boo RE this sentence:
"Jean-Marc appeared, as he inevitably would, at the climatic moment of revelation"

That should be 'climactic' with a C, having to do with the dramatic climax of the episode and nothing to do with the climate! Love knowing what 'lolo!' stands for, and love even more the source of this knowledge being you and your beloved mother-in-law!

Bill Facker

My dear stepmother, Mama Rose, came home from her job every weekday to watch her favorite soap .. heaven forbid anyone should say one word at that time! I can hear the echo of her admonishing the bad guys or gals on those programs .. they truly were a part of her life. I wish she was still here. I would happily sit down and watch General Hospital or Days of our Lives, just to enjoy an hour of her company. Enjoy your Mother-In-Law as she enjoys her show ... and listen carefully to her voice...one day that experience will be a part of you. Aloha, Bill

Bill Facker

Forgot to compliment your photos today .. Nice! Ditto the writing!


Hi Kristin,

What is the humiliating-sounding French word?


My daytime vice used to be "Days of our lives" till the storylines got much too absurd and they started recycling some of them!! It's SO nice that you have such a good relationship with yourMom in law...so often theres an underlying jealousy that gets in the way.......Hmmmm I'm also womdering what "that" word is too ?

Maureen from Freiburg

I think Kristi means "toilette"?
Cute story. I never got hooked on soapies - they always come across as soooo inauthentic. But yes, TV is fab for learning a language - total immersion technique!

Jan  Hersh

Yes - please clarify the word or words you find to be unmentionable.
My friend, Cathy, was filling my ears with a sordid story during a long drive back in my college days. The ending was so sad that I started to weep.
"How do you know those people?" I sobbed.
"Oh, it's my soap opera called All My Children!"
I groaned with a mix of shock and disgust.
Later that week she was at my apartment and insisted upon turning the show on. Of course, I got hooked and didn't get cured until 1984 when we bought a house that had no cable connection.

Kristin Espinasse

Fran, I will try to share some teenage slang -- I had been keeping a list... now to find it!

Bill in St. Paul, Yolo... I mean LOL... enjoyed your story about the woman in the TV salesroom!

Ellen, I will get that recipe up soon.

Kitty and Herm, thanks for the helpful corrections.

Bill, Aw, such a sweet scene you paint with Mama Rose.

Aitch, I was referring to toilette. But I could have found a better example. Only little kids get embarrased by such words. (The French word cacahoutte comes to mind. Oh, how the little kids dissolve into giggles when saying the French word for peanut! Those first four letters are so entertaining for them :-)

Diane Young

I remember watching "As the World Turns" back when I was home from college in the fifties. TV was just getting going then. In later years, my husband and I refused to watch "Dallas" and yet, years after it ended, we got hooked on it in reruns. Don't watch the new version. Some of the current programs resemble soap operas but I don't watch any real soap operas, only hour long shows that are on once a week. Your pictures are always wonderful. What a great eye you have for photography. It brightens my day. Merci.


I hate YOLO. While riding with my teenage son he declared that before making a left hand turn into traffic. I told him he's not to use that phrase any more while driving.

Gordon Lyman

Kristin - charming post today.


I JUST RETURND for downtown - shopping for new paint, plus a new snorkel mask that I can use in France...Kristi I will bring you one also.

I must say Jan Hersh - you had me laughing with your comment. I love the comments box, I check it several times a day, it is my soap-opera. I am so happy everyone is starting to open up with their own funny stories - and also the touching heart-wretching stories that came in a few days ago. I love all of you.

Kristi I am home now if you want to call me.




Offtopic probably, but anyways.. I have found this one of your earlier editions I never saw before, and think the picture of JM is just BEAUTIFUL!


Could be a good idea to paint a family portrait precisely that way - where the picture of JM filleul could be replaced with his own son Max's picture, and the picture of you, Kristi, could be just "in the picture on the wall". That would be a very contemporary way to celebrate your family life.. or maybe it could be even a good present to JM next birthday.. or anniversary..?

:-) ..hope Mama Jules is reading! :-) .. and has got her perfect color palette ready.. if she gets inspired enough of course.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Francesca. What a cool idea for a family portrait. Mom would think so too :-) P.S. That is Jean-Marcs godson, who is now 10 years old.


Sure.. :-) sometimes I am brimming with ideas! :-)

However, to keep your daughter Jacky involved and not a bit offended by the separation (I guess she wasn't even born when Max was at the curlin-up-in-arms-tender-age) it may be a good idea to think out a sequelle (wasn't this word from our previous lesson?) right away before even starting the painting, where she, Jacky, would be portrayed beatufully(!) for sure, and very included by all means among all other family members.. is Mama Jules included too? Sometimes it is a very good idea for the future generations to have elders in the memorable mementos. In some cases it even proves to be priceless.

Best of all to you and to your entire family!

Christine Dashper

A lovely story as usual! I love YOLO in any language! Thanks Kristin :)

Marianne Rankin

One must be selective when watching TV, as there is never enough time. I never watched soap operas, partly because I was usually at work when they were on. I would never want to be like one of my relatives, who refused to go anywhere (this was before VCRs/DVRs) when her show was on. I saw one episode of "Dallas," and thought J.R. was a jerk, I was very distressed when I last went overseas in 1982 and found that in country after country, people were watching "Dallas" - sometimes with subtitles, and sometimes not even fully understanding the story without them. It gives a very inaccurate picture of life in the USA. Nevertheless, as I've told numerous immigrants in this country, TV is great practice, not only because of the slang and idiomatic expressions, and the way that meaning can often be figured out by the action one sees, but because the speech is so fast! If one can understand English spoken so rapidly on TV, chances are one can understand it almost anywhere else.

I might very well watch a French soap opera if it were available and at a convenient time, though I think the quality of movies might be better.

Does anyone know if "Les Miserables" has a French version?

Betty Adams

What about that French handwriting like in the photo from your archives? I always see it in the markets and in restaurants. Is that type of penmenship? taught in school? I love that style of script. Is there any way to learn the French method? I have looked online for help with not much success. Do you have any books available for purchase so that I can get started on my "French" handwriting and have my menu for a future dinner party on a blackboard?

P. Sellers

I am in SD as well. Which provider offers
TV5 Monde?

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