How to say Rabbit or Bunny + Easter in France
Come to our winetasting Apr. 20th + Smokey's lump

Rabbit recipe + How to say DEADLINE in French?

French Word-A-Day goes out twice a week, but the stories continue in pictures over at Instagram. This snapshot, above, is subtitled "Following in a musician's steps, in Aix." I had been hurrying along behind the stranger, on my way to a meeting, when a little voice whispered: Snap out of it. Sometimes we are so clamped down on our track to the future that we are incapable of experiencing the present moment. This is also the theme of today's story. I hope you'll enjoy it.

la date limite

    : deadline, cut-off date

date limite de consommation = best-before date
date limite de conservation = expiration date
date limite de publication =  publication deadline

Listen to Jean-Marc read the following sentence in French: Download MP3 or Wav file

La date limite d'utilisation est une date indiquée sur l'emballage de certaines denrées au-delà de laquelle leurs qualités ne sont plus garanties. The expiration date is a date indicated on the package of certain foodstuff beyond which their qualities are no longer guaranteed. (French sentence from Wikipedia)

Improve your French pronunciation with the Exercises in French phonetics book. Click here. 

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

This month marks two years since I began writing the back page column for France Today magazine. In addition to Le Dernier Mot, I have been given the chance to write a three-page feature for their June edition! Though I have finally adapted to a regular deadline (getting lots of practice here in my blog) I am panicked about this week's due date and my tendency is to clamp down and shut everything else out. Like this, I recently missed the chance to meet friends in Cassis, and I missed my dear friend Tessa's painting class. C'est dommage. The friendly breaks would have surely had a positive effect and would not have caused my little publishing empire to come crumbling down! 

By Wednesday this new deadline was looming when another date limite (you need to say those words with a French accent: DAT LEE-MEET) crept into the picture. That is when I remembered the skinned rabbit in my refrigerator

Mon Dieu! It was time to cook it or see it expire for the second time! That would be inimaginable after what Annie--and the rabbit--went though! 

Surfing the internet, I found recipes and diagrams on how to cut up a rabbit. Gosh! I hadn't gotten to that last part yet, couldn't it be cooked whole, like a roast chicken? In the middle of this dilemma, my husband walked in and there, I saw a solution...

Jean-Marc and I stood side-by-side in the kitchen, one of us holding a dull knife (I tried sharpening it), the other waving an instructional diagram through the air, in vain. (Jean-Marc will have nothing to do with convention.) 

In 9 no-nonsense whacks, the rabbit was now ready to be sauteed in pieces... For this, I did as Annie had instructed earlier, when that very morning I had flagged her down in her car as she drove past our house. Reaching for me from her car window, she held my hand as she relayed La recette grand-mère pour Lapin à la Moutarde.


               (Rabbit, covered with shallots, thyme and ready to cook)


  • Saisir or fry the pieces in butter
  • coat them with good mustard
  • add fresh thyme, salt, pepper
  • sauteed shallots if you like...
  • a little water into the shallow pan, or a bit of white wine (or both)
  • and into the oven at 175c for 45 minutes, turning several times, during cooking, to coat the rabbit in the pan juices

Squeezing my hand a few more times for courage, Annie added, "When the lapin is done, gently scrape off all the mustard and mix it with cream (I used sour cream), then recoat the morsels with this thick sauce and reheat, adding more liquid if necessary, so the meat doesn't stick to the pan."

As Annie drove off, I reached down and plucked up several branches of flowering thyme and headed back to the kitchen. I was a little confused as to why Annie's recipe called for only 45 minutes of cooking, and most of the online recipes called for hours and hours of slow cooking. And then, by coincidence, a guest last night (Marie, see her vineyard here!), whose son-in-law raises rabbits, explained: old rabbits are cooked longer, to make civet. Young rabbits are cooked quickly).

Bon, back to our story. There remained one question: when to serve Annie's rabbit and to whom


Because we had two helping hands here at the moment (including Gilbert, who you met here in the asparagus post, along with his dog Inès de la Frange remember her...) the answer was easy. But would there be enough rabbit for three hungry men and one curious cook?

Amidst all the questioning, the thought of how can I ever thank Annie returned. And then I remembered a comment I had read from the morning's blog post, wherein so many of you were writing in with tips and encouragements on what to do with Annie's rabbit.

Cynthia wrote: By all means, do make a rabbit stew and invite Annie for dinner.

Mais bien sûr! This would be the perfect way to thank my neighbor! The only question now was: would there be enough for 5? Annie accepted the invitation and wanted to know if it would be alright if she brought her daughter along....

"Oui, oui!" I insisted, mentally watching our rabbit stretch itself to accommodate lunch for 6. Jean-Marc had cut up 6 pieces hadn't he? And there went my worries, back on the hamster wheel: round and round... 

Returning to the kitchen to finish preparing the rabbit, a miracle occurred. Just like Jesus and the fish, the rabbit multiplied! There seemed to be more pieces than before....


When it came time to sit down for lunch, our garden worker friends were famished from four hours of débroussaillement (clearing the jungle of bushes from our driveway).  Annie and Margot, Annie's daughter, were exhausted from pulling up the lilac bush and an exotic plant from their own garden (which they gifted to me). 

Returning to the kitchen to pull the rabbit out of the oven, I prayed the pieces had not shrunk from the cooking. Arranging the servings with economy, I sent Jean-Marc out with the plates and careful instructions: this one's for Annie... this giant piece is for Roland... and this little one's for you!

At the table I studied everyone's faces until Annie spoke.

"Bravo, Kristin! C'est délicieux!"

Thrilled with the compliment, and seeing my guests' plates were empty (good sign indeed!), I returned to the kitchen to serve up more rice. Peering into the oven I saw another miracle. Three servings of rabbit remained.

Crawling into bed for an after-lunch nap, I relived the previous moment in my mind's eye. There had been two ways to spend my morning: nailed to my keyboard, overworking my story (due in a few days...), or preparing a meal for some lovely characters.  

The true miracle was to have chosen the second. 



Sitting down to lunch with my guests.

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


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Sally Bainbridge

AND...must add that you look lovely.

Geraldine Ventura

Kristin, how many times do we make more food than is needed? You sound like you got it just right with another meal for just you and Jean Marc. Love rabbit, but it isn't readily available in our stores in Valparaiso, IN, but I will certainly keep this recipe just in case!

Gary Rodan

Marvelous writing Kristin, You are really a beautiful French Woman now, n'est-ce pas?
Jean-Marc is lucky to have You,(and You him). You may tell him how jealous I am. His male ego should like that!
Love to You and Your whole family, including dogs! We , Your readers, love You-all!!


I so agree with Geraldine. We ate rabbit with polenta when we were children because my father hunted. I have not been able to buy it locally.


Bravo, Kristi! I once made rabbit and it was a tough stringy disaster. I need to try your/Annie's recette! Love this story of taking risks. xo

Michele Fraser

well done, brave girl!! xoxox

Eileen deCamp

Great story Kristin! I've never eaten looks delicious! I love your watercolor scarf

Kate Dickerson

We'll be renting a place in Collioure, in a week. I look forward to getting a spring rabbit and following your recipe - thanks so much!

P.s. In what was obviously a Freudian slip, I read your word morsels as "morels" and thought how delicious this would be with the addition of "les morilles"…LOL - might try that!


Brava!! That lapin looks gorgeous, and thank you so much for posting the recipe!

Angela Bell

Kristin, I just loved this post for so many, many reasons. I can identify completely with the deadline pressure after so many years of writing. I continue to learn from you, identify with your struggles as wife, mother, daughter, and writer (I hope that doesn't sound self-involved), and admire your fortitude. You have many gifts, but perhaps the greatest is that generosity of spirit I see manifested so often in your charming tales of daily life in the glorious Provencal countryside. Bit by bit, you are writing a truly amazing record of life de jour en jour. God bless! Angela

Sandy Farmgirl

My grandmother and grandfather were immigrants from Poland/Ukraine to the the early 1900s. They bought a farm outside of Niagara Falls, NY near Lake Ontario and raised their 6 children there. I am the oldest grandchild. I remember my grandmother saying that they tried raising rabbits, BUT she could not slaughter them and eat them, they were so cute. So they gave up rabbit raising, and grew lots of fruit and vegetables, and raised cows for milk, not eating. My grandmother's remarks about the rabbits influenced me greatly. To this day, I have never eaten one, and never plan to! Bonne courage to those who can.


Kristin, when I looked from the kitchen window and saw a rabbit leaping from the garden, I wondered what to do. I will save this recipe for when I have a solution!

JAHde Vos

Beautiful story, beautifully written. I'm so glad I recently found your blog! Your writing is so full of personality, reading it is like a chat with a friend. Thank you!


Kristi that photo of Aix brings me back so many years! I studied in Aix (think I told you this when we met a few years back) and this church was down the street from the hotel we stayed in the first few days. I felt like I was there again!

julie camp

Your stories speak from your heart and your brain perfectly places each chosen word. I've learned much from reading YOU, and re-reading. Thanks Kristi. You look so beautiful in today's photo, and so does your scarf! love/julie

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

"When you rush through life it becomes a race, but when you enjoy each moment, it becomes a beautiful journey." Author unknown (at least to me). This from a little card with a lovely watercolor of a bicycle with basket of flowers. Sounds like you slowed down to enjoy the journey :)

Anne Irons

Kristin, Vous avez la joie de vivre. Vous etes la joie de votre famille et de tous les liseurs de votre blog. Il est impossible pour moi faire les marques accents avec mon ordinateur. Excusez moi, svp.—accent aigu, circonflexe et grave. Merci pour l'anecdote de M. Lapin.

Chery in STL

I love your story today and am delighted to have your "new" recipe! Rabbit is a favorite of mine and I often cook it like a coq au vin, so this sounds easy and wonderful. look so cool and calm in the photo!

Devra Long

Your story touched my heart! You are more beautiful than ever; inside and out!


It turns out that you didn't have to be "quick as a rabbit." There must be a French equivalent to that phrase, n'est pas?

Reflecting on your photo...Kristen, you are becoming a French woman. Look how French you look in your scarf which is so artfully tied!

Joanne Ablan

Comment je vous admire! Kristin, I could never, ever, attempt a new
recipe and serve it to guests without a rehearsal! Un coeur joie n' a pas de limite. Joanne, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA


Ah - Dieu est bon et gentil! Bravo cher Kristi!

Teresa Meek

I love your plate! What is the pattern?

It must have been hard to prepare a bunny to eat. When I was a small child, my dad used to go rabbit hunting. Then he would bring home the rabbits full of shot, and my mother had to clean, dress, and cook them. It must have been very hard for her, a cat lover. All this was done out of my sight. When they served the meal, covered as I recall with a red sauce that must have been tomato-based (unless I'm confusing it with a later school lunch recipe called "blushing bunny"), they told me it was hare. I'm sure I would never have touched it if it had been called rabbit or bunny. I never did make the connection between Daddy's rabbit hunting and dinner, or wonder where the rabbits were when he came home.

Mary-Audrey Mellor

Living for 3 months with a French family in Paris in 1952 our first meal was rabbit. The thought did not appeal at all but was surprised that it was quite good.

Not as good as yours looks. Good job!, Mary-Audrey, Scottsdale, AZ

Stacy - Sweet Life Farm

Your courageous choice = lovely story + beautiful reminder.

Joan L.

Bonne poste! Salut a tous!


Our dear Kristi,
What a wonderful post and pictures!You are not only elegant in your scarf and hat,but lovely
as well,from the inside out!
I feel like we've been treated to an incredible meal in a gorgeous setting,beautifully prepared and served.What pleasure!
Natalia. XO
PS Ines is a cutie!
PS 2. How is Braise?

Sue in Seattle

Bonjour Kristin . . . do you know the name of the church in the picture? While in Aix a few years ago, I visited there but cannot remember the name of it. Thank you!

Sarah LaBelle near Chicago

A great story of being so neighborly, and it is wonderful how Jean-Marc steps in to help with perparation.


Well done! My attempts at rabbit (notice the plural) have been disastrous. There are always too many bones! Congratulations on a difficult job well done.

Jo Ellen

Well done! Living in the moment and trusting your instincts! Brava!

Rand Walker, Taking French Classes at age 66

France Today magazine - I was pleasantly surprised to find this magazine and when I was almost ready to put it down, who do I find on the next to last page - Mon auteur préféré (my favorite author). I look forward to every issue and the June special.

Cynthia P. Lewis

Annie and her daughter must have been so happy to share this beautiful meal with you; a special neighbor like Annie is to be cherished.

I, too, must add what a lovely photo of you in today's post! I hope all deadlines will have been met while you have taken the time to share this charming story with your readers. Thank you and best wishes......

Koula Louras

Kristi, yet again you delight us with your generosity, humour and eloquent story telling !! Thank you

Brenda Prowse

Oh I love this story and this lovely serene photo of you, Kristin. Thank you for posting and cooking, sharing your meal and mainly for being you. Bisous

Bobo Vian

I like your selection of words and expressions, but sometimes I feel I must double check. This is what happened this time, regarding "date limite". According to the Office de la langue française, the media does not use "date limite" (anglicisme). They use "date de tombée". "Date limite" is indeed correctly used for expiration dates, but the French uses as many ways to express "deadline" as many different "end dates or hours" there are.
e.g.: échéance, date d’échéance, limite, dernière limite, date limite, heure limite, date butoir, heure ou date de tombée (dans le monde des médias), date d’expiration, délai, dernier délai, délai de rigueur, date de clôture, clôture des inscriptions, terme, délai butoir, heure ou jour de bouclage (dans le monde de la presse)

adeline richarson Ile de La Réunion

Even if very very very far from your place.... il sent drolement bon ce lapin!

Mahee Ferlini

Great story amazingly written!!


So good to be able to enjoy your stories again. I have missed so many. Now I know I will have joy in my heart being connected with you again. We are so lucky to have you and the family seeing your success and wonderful insights of French life. Super recipes also

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