How to say 'forgetful' in French + today's giveaway
The French word "tomber," the cops, and my mother-in-law

The French word "sous-vide" + Win "Flirting with French"

Mediterranean sea

To enter to win today's book--a copy of Flirting with French--tell me your favorite thing to eat. Click here to enter.

Today's delicious fish caper begins somewhere near the sea in La Madrague, east of La Ciotat.... but before we begin, a question for those who have had difficulty viewing these emailed posts: how are things looking today? Thanks for reporting any formatting issues to [email protected]

le sous-vide (sew-veed)

    :  vacuum-sealed (in a plastic bag)

emballé sous vide = vacuum-packed

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc 
Download MP3 or Wav

Le poisson était présenté en sachet sous-vide.
The fish came in a vacuum-sealed bag.

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

Sunday morning was quickly turning into a day of galère rather than a day of repos. There was my husband--lying on the floor wrestling with the dishwasher--my clean kitchen now teeming with screwdrivers, filters, even the vacuum cleaner (what in tarnation was he going to suck up this time?)

I took a deep breath, pivoted on my heels, and was on my way back out to the strawberry patch to continue planting all those leafy offshoots, when I heard the victory cry: "Ça y est! Je l'ai réparé!"

Jean-Marc had located the imposteur: a morsel of broken wine glass that had lodged itself into the dishwasher motor.  "Je suis assez content de moi!" my husband declared, holding up the shard for an admiring glance.  Examining it, I was contente too (we wouldn't be forking out $$$ to the repair man this time!).

This got me thinking...

"Why don't you go to the farmers market and get some daurade to barbecue for lunch?! You could stop at the lone fisherman's stand. His is more expensive--but it's local!"   

"D'accord!" my husband agreed. He was in such a good mood I might have asked for lobster, too, but le homard not something you find here, in turquoise blue Mediterranean waters--though you'll find plenty of sea urchin, now that oursin season has begun! (Don't remind my husband of this fact, for no delicacy compares to his beloved oursins, which taste even better when you hunt for them yourself!)

As luck would have it, we were not having those damned urchins today. No, not we! And by the time Jean-Marc had cycled back from the farmers marché , Jackie and I had set the picnic table, adding a bowl of greens from the potager and a tray of new fromages to tide us over until le pièce de résistance! 

My daughter and I were now seated table-side on the front patio, picking at our salads and cheese--en train de patienter--when Jean-Marc hurried by, pausing only to yank several branches of rosemary from the bush behind my chair.

"What's that for?" I asked, remembering he only used romarin for mussels. "I thought we agreed on sea bream?"

"C'est pour faire parler les bavardes!" Jean-Marc snickered. "It gives the chatterboxes something to talk about!" 

"Ha ha! How much longer?" I shouted as The Rosemary Thief ran down the path on his way to the barbecue.

"Cinq minutes!" came the answer as an unusually giant bundle of herbs disappeared around the corner.

Ah, the famous five minutes! Jackie and I looked at each other when both of us automatically began betting.

"I'd say this particular five minutes translates to..."

"Twenty!" Jackie guessed, beating me to it.

A little while later Jean-Marc returned with three grilled daurades, which looked so good my daughter and I forgot to check our stopwatch.

"Wow!" I cheered as Jean-Marc lowered the platter and three entire daurades were grilled to perfection. Their silver skins cracked with a light charcoal finish and their eyes looked right up at the cook... who would soon eat them--as would his daughter (just as her great-grandmother did and the generations before her who'd lived through war et revolution. Fish eyes were nothing to throw out! Fish cheeks neither!)

"Voilà. Just what you asked for, ma chérie." Jean-Marc purred, serving the crispy-skinned fish. "Daurade sauvage."

"Oh, yes! I can tell it's wild. It looks so... sauvage!!"

"Mmm mmm!" Jackie agreed adding a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of citron before taking another bite. The meat was moist, tender, and faintly sweet. Jean-Marc had obviously spared no expense! 

"I know it's a little more expensive," I admitted, setting down my knife to savor the next bite, "but it's so worth it! Don't you agree?"

"Only the best for my chérie!" Jean-Marc insisted. I could tell he was in an especially good mood, which was strange given he'd just emptied his pockets to pay for high quality. 

"Au fait, what did it cost? I wondered.

"Trente euros."

"Thirty? For three fish?! Ten euros each... Well, no wonder it's so good! None of that farmed fish! Besides, you get what you pay for!"

Jean-Marc smiled as he listened to me go on and on about fish quality and how, anyway, it was less expensive than if we were eating daurade in a restaurant--where a single fish could cost up to 27 euros! Just ask my unsuspecting Dad, who treated us to lunch (seaside in Cassis) when he was here last month.

"Well... maybe we could serve this when Sophie comes over next weekend?" I suggested, taking advantage of the generous atmosphere to milk it some more!

"Anytime," Jean-Marc laughed--admitting he'd bought all three fish on sale at the grocery store!

Jackie and I dropped our forks.

"They were out of daurade at the fish stand, so I rode my bike to the supermarket. Found these sous-vide! They were fished in Greece, and are now on special--three for 14 euros! When I got home I removed the packaging, tossed it behind the bushes and put it on a platter.

I looked over at the rosemary bush, his partner in crime. And had he also used its branches to camouflage the taste of cheap fish?

But the fact was, the fish was delicious--and Jean-Marc deserved the well as a reminder:

"Next time, let's make it local. Better for the environment!"

That smirk returned to my husband's face. Uh-oh, I know what that meant. Prickly sea urchins! And lots of them (the season is now open through April!). My husband would be only too happy for any excuse to go underwater hunting--for the love of les oursins. 

"On second thought, Greece isn't so far away...."


*    *    *

To respond to this story, click here--and be automatically entered in today's drawing. See below...

French Vocabulary
la galère = pain, chore, hell
le repos = rest
je suis assez content = I'm quite pleased
la daurade = sea bream
d'accord = OK
le homard = lobster
l'oursin (m) = sea urchin
le potager = vegetable garden
en train de = in the middle of
patienter = to waiting, waiting
le romarin = rosemary
le citron = lemon
chérie, chéri = darling
au fait = by the way

New rental in Provence. In the charming village of Sablet--this spacious home is the perfect place to return to after sightseeing, bicycling or hiking.See photos here.

 Capture plein écran 03112014 104029
"Laguiole" (with the little bee on the handle)! Did you know you can get these popular French knives online? Click here.

Jackie daurade

Jackie, enjoying the not-so-local daurade, or sea bream.

The winner of Friday's giveaway is Rhonda! Rhonda, your name was drawn randomly, and your reminder, "Pets can be such a comfort for those suffering from Alzheimer's" is a good one.  I will contact you today, so get your address ready so I can send you your book.

Meantime, for all readers, here's another chance to win another book.....

Capture plein écran 04112014 105925


In today's story we learned about Jean-Marc's great-grandmother, who ate the eyes right out of the fish on her plate! We learn even more about French culture--via the language--in William Alexander's latest "Flirting With French". 

To enter, simply share your favorite delicacy (if not fish eyes!) Click here to share and enter. 

Meantime, I'm taking advantage of the rain to plant many more seeds... and to divide these. Chives! Lots of them. Can't wait to see all the purple flowers some day. In front of the chives, I've planted fraises--strawberries (all free, given they were shoots from the mother plant!). Also planting fèves, or fava beans, pois chiches, or chickpeas, and more comfrey.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
2. A bank transfer via Zelle, a great way to send your donation as there are no transaction fees.

Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Rev. Sami Williams

Steamed Crabs (from the Chesapeake Bay)


broiled shrimp with just a touch of garlic butter!


French Macarons...I make awesome ones!


Despite menus and menus of marvels, I am happiest with a good French baguette and... good butter. Simple, sublime and soothing.

Debbi from New Jersey

Mushroom risotto...yum!

Geoff Morgans

Chocolate raisins


Wellfleet oysters on the half shell!


Fried Hokkien prawn mee (noodles) from Singapore!

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
Love this post! Jackie looks like she is enjoying her lunch! I've never tasted sea bream or oursins. Do you eat the oursins raw? We have a freezer full of salmon from my husband's fishing trip in August. I have been trying new ways to cook it!


Large crevettes with rose wine and crusty french bread in the sunshine!

Bruce in northwest Connecticut

As with the cheeses, it's really hard to pick just one. Homard, perhaps. Or bluefish (don't know what it's called in French). Or the seafood fra diavolo at the restaurant down the road from me.

Now I see that Nancy mentioned French macarons. They're definitely my favorite. The texture is incredible, and the various flavors can be bewitching. On the other hand, I also love anything made with pate a choux — cream puffs, religieux, profiterolles, etc. Or tapioca pudding, but only the real kind.

I make a braised duck that's pretty darned incredible, if I do say so myself. But I also love a juicy, flavorful cheeseburger. And venison steak.

Y'know what? I give up. I can't do this. Just give the book to someone else.


Tielle - the little 'octopus pie' of Sete, ideally dripping hot from the tiny 'take away' off the old market square. I've travelled all over, but this is the most sublime 'fast food' I've ever tasted, and after years of thoroughly enjoyable practising, I've just about mastered how to make it myself.

Barb Friedman

Any good that is organic and that I prepare myself

Jane Govatos

A baguette, a great goat cheese!

Arlene Monroe

Tobouli Salad. It is why I grow herbs. It makes my insides sing! Fresh mint, fresh parsley,, lemon, cucumber, la, la llaaaaaa.


Right now all I can think about are Krispy Kreme doughnuts!
Thanks for the chance to win this book.


my favourite thing to eat is CERTAINLY NOT fish eyes! the idea makes me want to gag...of all the french food available this would be my last choice (along with tripe, frog, and cheese with mites as per other posting).
Being more positive, the croissant comes very close to being tops...simply eaten but hard to make well. Also an incredible Normandy sauce from a meal with chicken experienced 40 years ago but never forgotten...

Nancy Zuercher

The darkest semi-sweet chocolate, preferably Lindt, in double dark chocolate ice cream with added chocolate crunch. A small scoop of coffee ice cream tops the dish.

Sandy Wirth

Crepes.. nearly any kind. Everything is better in a crepe!

Teresa Johnston

A good baguette, toasted,then butter,and apricot preserves..and a cup of coffee!


Hi Kristin (& J-M & J),
What a lovely post. Great photos too. I really love griddled Halloumi cheese; still looking for it in Bretagne!


Mousse au chocolat. 'nuf said.

Ginny McCann

Lobster dripping with lemon butter or NY cheesecake dripping with raspberries??? I'm just a girl who can't decide!


Enjoying your posts from France. I must practice my francais!

Elizabeth Moon

I love street crêpes with Nutella. Nothing is more delightful and faux-pas than walking down a street in France, cradling an oversized crêpe dripping with warm Nutella. I would always end up with more on my chin than in my mouth.
I now teach French and have yet to once again savor a crêpe in France, so for La Chandeleur I borrowed burners and pans from the culinary arts department and made crêpes with my students. It was so wonderful (and messy!) to share that experience with all of my students and to let them taste a slice of France.

John L Barbato

My favorite food is a warm buttery tasting croissant with cafe au lait in the morning.

Melanie Schmidt

Crab stuffed mushrooms

Muir Dean

Steamed lobster with melted butter - best was on the coast of Maine picked up at the docks, taken home and steamed in a pot with rocks on the bottom, then seaweed then water boiled and eaten straight away.

Peggy Wright

Ice cream. No one can frown while eating ice cream.


J'adodre les crepes ~ a Sunday morning family tradition for over 60 years.


A fresh apple !

Lisa Kennedy

Hi Kristin, I just read today's post while eating my breakfast. Your delicious meal certainly made the oatmeal seem terribly bland! My favorite meal - Ratatouille, accompanied by a crusty baguette which is (a) great for "mopping up" and (b) part of the second stage of my fave meal ... Délice de Bourgogne and sliced pears!




Brillat-Savarin fromage!!


Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt

B. Beebe

Can i have two choices? In France.....Brebiou......just love it but can't always get it! My other choice? ..a succulent Mango!


My favourite thing to eat is gulyásleves (Goulash soup) a chunky beef/root vegetable soup with caraway and lots of paprika. With the cold weather coming the broth is so so good. Plus I have a big emotional connection as this is something I learned to make from my father. Que je manqué mon père qui es décédé ils y a presque 12 ans.

Ann McClure

Chocolate, in any country ... And when living in Paris as a teenager, I cannot tell you how many petit pain au chocolat I ate over all those years.. Thinking of them still makes my mouth water.

Sheryl Powell

Dark chocolate in any shape or form!

Lacie E.

My favorite thing to eat is Julia Child's "Reine de Saba" Almond Chocolate Cake !!!

Denise Givens

king crab legs with melted butter!

Maggi Barth

Lobster and foie gras!!

Nancy Stilwagen

Garlic makes everything a delicacy! Don't forget to plant some in your potager!

Mike Young

Here in South Africa, I live just south of a semi-arid area called the Karoo. Its unique vegetation provides grazing for lambs which gives the meat a very distinctive flavour, so I have to choose Karoo lamb chops.

Lisa Kiely

cheese enchiladas with red chile sauce - my favorite comfort food

Nancy Lilly



Foie gras for a treat; raspberries in the summer; bread any time!

Tood Moxley

Tomatoes....There's nothing better than tomatoes in Provence! Eat them like apples, with balsamic vinegar, with mozzarella cheese...on and on. They are magnifique!

Ruth Williams

Ile flottante : so exquisite!


Without doubt or favorite thing to eat is escargot, preferably from the Bourgogne region!


Pickerel cheeks, delicate, no bones, sautéed in sweet butter with a sprinkle of lemon!

Tish Tyler

Fried green tomatoes topped with pimento cheese!

Sue J.

I seem to be in a tilapia rut (quite happily!)

June Shenton Turner

There are several reasons we love ratatouille.
The first time we went to Provence we rented a
house in Ste Maxime and the owner, Mdme Rabbia,
taught us to make ratatouille the Provencal way. The secret is layering the ingredients in a heavy casserole, garlic at the bottom, olive oil, lid on and let it cook slowly on the top of the stove. The garlic warms up in the olive oil and gradually the aroma seeps up through the vegetables to he top. Cook slowly for about 2 hours. Out of this world!

David rooks

I love Broiled Shrimp with Seafood sauce and Raw Oysters on Half Shell with Tarter or seafood Sauce.

Kathy A

Fresh fruit! Mangoes, oranges, and strawberries oh my!


Whenever we are at the seashore, my favorite is Les Moules, Mussels braised in white wine and scented with garlic and chives. Delicious!

Erica Simoneaux

grilled cheese with tomato basil soup! Yummm! Perfect for fall!

Del Lancaster

Crawfish étouffée. It is a local product. I grew up eating it My grandmother cooked it. My mom cooked it and I cook it. Additionally, both my sons prepare crawfish étouffée for their families. You can boil crawfish, steam crawfish, make patties or crawfish cakes, but they always have to be Louisiana crawfish.


Risotto!!! Always! Preferably a mushroom risotto!

Crystal Pfeffer

Salmon piccata 😊


Wild black raspberry pie

Audrey Wilson

Souris (.No Not mice but lambs shanks !) low roasted on a bed of vegs with wine poured over them before roasting Yummy

Alan Miller

Looks like another great book about France. I would look forward to reading it and dreaming of returning to my favorite overseas location.

Beth Bright

Oh by far my fav is "Salad Nicoise"
I use salmon, tuna, shrimp or just leave it vegetarian. Love it everytime. Here is a fun recipe to try for all your foodies out there ~

Credit: Todd Coleman

1 clove garlic
Kosher salt, to taste
⅓ cup olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lb. small new potatoes, boiled until tender
6 oz. yellow baby beets, boiled until tender, peeled
6 oz. red baby beets, boiled until tender, peeled
8 oz. haricot verts, blanched
12 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup black Niçoise olives
8 small radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
8 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and drained
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
3 (4-oz.) cans high-quality oil-packed tuna, drained
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
½ cup loosely packed basil leaves, to garnish
¼ cup thinly sliced scallions, to garnish

1. Make the dressing: Mince garlic on a cutting board and sprinkle heavily with salt; using a knife, scrape garlic and salt together to form a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a bowl and whisk in oil, juice, mustard, shallot, and salt and pepper; set aside.

2. Make the salad: Arrange all ingredients in separate rows on a large serving platter; drizzle dressing over all ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and garnish with basil and scallions just before serving.

Monica G

Gorgeous baked, pitted black olives...Ummmm
Bought at the Fresh produce market in Oranjezicht, Cape Town........
Or just about anything bought from Suzanne's French shop of gastromonic delights and washed down with a delightful champagne sourced by Suzanne!

Josephine G.


Caroline B

Foie gras de canard with tiny square toasts. C'est delicieux!


Gratin dauphinois is my fave. I took my students to Chamonix where we were served a huge dish of it. I made them move it to the other end of the table because I couldn't stop having "just a little more"!


Bruschetta with pesto, thinly sliced salmon, capers, minced red onion and a drizzle of olive oil! Followed with a glass of light to medium bodied red wine(I know - salmon calls for white or rose, but I like red!) C'est parfait et délicieux!

Brenda A


Paula H

A really moist Alaska King Salmon.


About eight years ago we stayed in a lovely small village outside Carcassonne and spent two weeks roaming the Languedoc region. This previously undiscovered area of France was a fantastic revelation. Everywhere it seemed the plat du jour was magret de canard. I'm still dreaming of and missing it. Maigret de canard with any potatoes and that iconic French salade verte with vinaigrette.

Ellen S



I wish we could post photos as in comments on Facebook so I could show you what I love to eat. I'll go with shrimp pastis for this contest.

Chris Allin

Artichokes! Comme Nancy Lilly...although Theresa Johnston has described my favorite breakfast. Actually Bruce in nw made me laugh! Too many choices! My family loves the daurade recipe you once gave us from Marie-France. Here in the middle of the U.S. I have to use tilapia instead, but the flavors all blend together and make it sooo good.
For Sue J.~Google Mama's Supper Club Talipia Parmesan...a yummy recipe. You always energize us, Kristin, when writing about food!

Angela D.

Homemade perogies & moose sausage.

Michelle Willumsen


Sherwood Parker

okra, lightly dusted with cornmeal and fried with potatoes

Randy Komisarek

Without a doubt it.s moule frites mariniere with a fresh crusty baguette (to soak up the sauce of course) and a glass of chilled rose. OMG

Randy Komisarek


There are too many French foods that I love to eat, when we're in Paris, to be able to list them all, but pain au chocolat, a good baguette, goat cheese, fresh croissants, fois gras, French mustard on roast chicken, Ratatouille, and Banana/Nutella crepes are a few favorites. I can't reproduce all of them at home, though I have found good French mustard -- Maille and Amore -- and now there are two Le Pain Quotidien bakeries in Chicago where I can get good croissants and baguettes when we visit. I don't think it's as quite as good, but I can find goat cheese, and I attempt to make Banana/Nutella crepes, and with more success, Ratatouille.

Good for Jean Marc for finding the piece of glass lodged in the dish washer motor! That saved you all more than enough to pay for the fish :-)


Deborah Page

Dulce de leche--Argentinian milk caramel, introduced to me by my Argentinian father. I think of him with every sweet spoonful. And it is so sweet and delicious!

Carol Carney

Steak with Sherry Oyster Sauce! I don't make this often, but when I do, i'm transported to heaven!
Carol Carney
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin


My grandmother's meat pie. She called it La Normandie as it looked like a ship as it was rectangular and she put 3 "smokestacks" on top (made with heavy paper) that were used to add some of the marinade from the pork during cooking. YUM!

Marti Hinman

My favorite dish is, Bouillabaisse!
I am sure, Marc would add some
urchins to my recipe :-)
Palm Coast, Florida


J'aime manger des lentilles et du riz


Cherry tomatoes right off the vine wrapped in a basil leaf. Nature's candy!

Pat N.

Sorghum on a toasted, buttered bagel is a great way to start the day!

Ilona Martin

So enjoyed your family story, I felt that I
Was there with you. My favorite food
Memory was eating freshly found
Mushrooms sautéed in butter, with
Little potatoes. My hands stained from
Rubbing the mushrooms, runny noes,
Dirty boots from the wet hills, this was in
Northern Germany 1949. Thank you
Bringing this memory back. Ilona


With Thanksgiving right around the corner I'm already dreaming of the buttered and browned skin of the turkey - thus the guests receive a mostly naked bird, but I do try to leave some! :)


My favorite food of all is lobster (at least the tail, and preferably more), either steamed or roasted.

Don Christian

I can't choose. I love food so much, life would be Hell if I had to choose just one item.


Oh! These comments are making me SO hungry. There are many favorites here, but my first impulse is to say buttery croissants and any of the soft cheeses in France made from UNPASTEURIZED milk - brie, camembert, madeleines? I have been known to eat these things for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I first arrive to France, but always come home weighing the same since I walk non-stop while I am there! This winter the salade niçoise will be tempting me while I spend a month in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Tom H

Zuquini Mediterranean style, sautéed with fresh onions, fresh tomatoes and seasoning.
Goes well with grilled or poached salmon. Try it in season.

Janine Cortell

Moules mariniere-I first had them in La Grande Motte and it has been my love ever since my friend Michele made them for me.

Kathy LaForce

1/8 of a Fresh baked banquette -crispy thin crust and soft in the middle-pull out enough soft middle (and eat of course) and fill with 4 squares of Swiss milk chocolate. Best eaten in the afternoon during a hike break. Called a


AND Poulain 1848 Noir Cafe Eclats de Cacao. I always bring home about 20 of these delicious dark chocolate bars, give some away, and try to make the rest last until I return to France again for a new supply. One or two squares every 2-6 weeks is the perfect amount for me. As a matter of fact, I think I had better have one right now with my coffee!

Louis Flohr

J'adore des mille feuilles! Mais je n'en ai trouvee aux Etats Unis.


Oh for a great dish of bouillaibaisse. there are so many different recipes and so many combinations of fish one uses. An yet, I've never had one that I didn't like. Going to Provence next year and planning to eat my way through as many variations as possible.


sauteed leek & mushroom baked with chevre in pasrty dough.

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